VANCOUVER, Wash. (9/30/10)--Eight credit unions from the Vancouver, Wash., area met Tuesday with a congressional candidate to talk about how changes in federal regulations could allow them to play a bigger role in reviving Southwest Washington's economy. Democratic congressional candidate Denny Heck is an Olympia-based business entrepreneur who once worked for a Vancouver-based credit union. According to The Columbian (Sept. 28), credit union leaders provided Heck with "an earful" about being excluded from the federal Small Business Lending Fund Act, which provides funds to community banks to provide credit for small businesses. Many CEOs at the event said they already are bumping against their member business lending caps, currently set at 12.25% of total assets. Credit unions have been pushing to raise the limit to 27.5%. Among those saying credit unions want in on the federal program were Larry Hoff, president/CEO of Fibre FCU, Longview, and Roger Michaelis, president/CEO of IQ CU, Vancouver. Others said regulators have overstepped in the wake of the mortgage lending crisis, with Dave Spaulding, president/CEO of Red Canoe CU, Longview, noting that some credit unions are being forced to do cash calls on second mortgages. About 35% to 40% of local credit unions' loan portfolios are in home mortgages, and credit unions told the candidate they work closely with members to avoid foreclosures in stressed mortgage situations. Al Ralston, a consultant to Tukwila-based BECU, said no one from the state of Washington is on key financial service committees. "I don't think we need any more friends," he said, adding, "We need champions" with clout to change laws. For the full article, use the link.