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Texas legislature ends with big CU wins some losses
AUSTIN, Texas (6/3/09)--The 81st session of the Texas Legislature, which meets for five months every two years, ended Monday night with some wins for credit unions and some losses, the Texas Credit Union League (TCUL) said. This session, the TCUL Bill Analysis Team met weekly and reviewed captions and contents for over 7,000 filed bills, flagging over 400 for possible impact on credit unions. The team ultimately monitored more than 120 bills in the final weeks of the process (LoneStar Leaguer June 2). Texas credit unions had high hopes for the session, and most of those hopes will be rewarded, TCUL said. Among the victories for credit unions includes the passage of the Credit Union Department Sunset bill, which will allow the Texas Credit Union Department (TCUD) to continue as a separate, independent regulator of credit unions for another 12 years until 2021. Also, the Texas budget bill, SB1, fully funds the credit union department over the biennium, including providing all requested funds for examiners’ salary progressions--something that did not happen in the 2007 session, said the league. In a last-minute move over the weekend, State Rep. Drew Darby (R-72) helped pass HR 2900, a product of a conference committee going “outside the bounds.” The original bill HB 3870 and SB 2238 had died from procedural impediments. This revived bill will free the state financial regulatory agencies, including the credit union department, from being under much of the two-year appropriations/budget process in the future. Thus, TCUD will now become a semi-“self-directed” agency, with its budget set by the Texas Credit Union Commission. It is important for credit unions to make sure the commission holds the line on any unwarranted or unnecessary examination fee increases moving into the future, the league said. Credit unions also were relieved to see several bills fail to pass. These would have changed laws regarding acceptance of presented powers of attorney, and provided new penalties for internally mishandling child support lien requests. On the loss side for credit unions, two bills of interest did not get passed. HB 345, a data security breach bill, was set as the last bill on the calendar in mid-May on a procedural deadline. This is the second session that data security legislation failed to cross key hurdles in the face of business lobby opposition. Not a single vote was cast against it by a lawmaker. Democratic lawmakers, wishing to kill a Voter ID bill that had to pass May 26 or die, began to delay by eating up time talking (known as “chubbing”) on a Local and Consent Calendar for hundreds of bills. Voter ID legislation failed to make procedural deadlines and died, sinking many other pending bills, including HB 345, further down the legislative calendar. TCUL is preparing a complete legislative summary of the session, which will be made available to members in several weeks once the governor’s period to sign or veto bills has expired on June 20.


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