WASHINGTON (3/11/08)—The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) will underscore the “staggering regulatory burden” on credit unions at the second national forum on regulatory fairness sponsored by the Small Business Administration (SBA) Wednesday. Mary Dunn, CUNA senior vice president and deputy general counsel, said she will note in oral and written testimony the following arguments:
* Credit unions are subject to the same consumer protection laws and regulations as other financial institutions, similar safety and soundness requirements, and are subject to the increasing requirements of the Bank Secrecy Act. * In addition, credit unions are subject to more restrictive capital requirements than those that apply to other types of financial institutions, field-of-membership and member-business-lending restrictions, as well as a usury ceiling, limitations on loan maturities, and stringent limitations on their investment options.
CUNA will also delineate the need for prompt corrective action reform to provide a more risk-based system for credit unions and the importance of allowing credit unions to offer more small business loans to their members. Both regulatory improvements are addressed within the language of the Credit Union Regulatory Improvements Act (H.R. 1537), and are expected to be included in a Senate version of the bill whose introduction is said to be imminent. CUNA will also address improvements in the SBA's processing of applications. In February, CUNA President/CEO Dan Mica and SBA Administrator Steve Preston met to discuss credit union participation in SBA lending. The meeting marked the five-year anniversary of when the agency expanded its guaranteed loan program to all credit unions, regardless of charter. Currently, more than 385 credit unions participate in the SBA 7(a) program, yet they accounted for only about 1% of such lending in 2007. Mica praised the SBA for improved paperwork processes, but said the agency should continue to improve efforts at speeding applications, a point Preston acknowledge and pledged to improve. SBA National Ombudsman Nicholas Owens said in a release that last year’s regulatory fairness hearing was “a great success, as groups explained the challenges their small business members face when trying to comply with regulations within their respective industries.” He added, “We would like to build upon last year’s hearing, and continue to successfully identify those federal regulatory enforcement actions that are excessive — rather than effective — for small businesses across the nation.”