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Inside Washington (03/14/2011)
* WASHINGTON (3/15/11)--Nearly 100 Ohio credit union leaders were in Washington, D.C., Feb 27-March 3, for the Credit Union National Association’s 2011 Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC). Advocating for the delay of the Fed’s interchange proposal topped their list of priorities, said the Ohio Credit Union League (eLumination March 9). Ohio credit union advocates also asked their congressional representatives to consider legislation that would increase credit union member business lending (MBL) authority and allow credit unions to generate supplemental capital. Rep. Steve Stivers (R) re-iterated his support for member business lending and informed the 4,000 credit union leaders in the audience of his recent letter to the Fed asking for delayed implementation of the interchange rule. House Speaker John Boehner (R), the first Speaker to attend the GAC since Newt Gingrich in 1998, praised the work of credit unions, but offered no specific promises. During legislative meetings on Capitol Hill, Ohioans received consistent support on interchange. Congressmen Steve Austria (R), Steve Chabot (R), Bill Johnson (R), Jim Jordan (R), Dennis Kucinich (D), Steve LaTourette (R), Jim Renacci (R), Tim Ryan (D), and Stivers all voiced support for delay of the proposed rule. The group also discussed the measure with Sen. Sherrod Brown (D), who serves as chairman of a key Senate banking sub-committee. Special guest Congresswoman Marcia Fudge (D) joined the Ohio delegation for a dinner hosted by the league. A member of Taleris CU in Cleveland, Fudge was introduced to the group by the credit union’s CEO, Robin Thomas … * WASHINGTON (3/15/11)--The Federal Housing Finance Agency has extended the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP), a refinancing program administered by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, to June 30, 2012. The program was set to expire on June 30 of this year. In addition, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will make these adjustments to their programs: Freddie Mac will exempt HARP loans from their recently announced price adjustments and Fannie Mae will conform their eligibility date to May 2009. The program expands access to refinancing for qualified individuals and families whose homes have lost value. Through 2010, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac purchased or guaranteed more than 6.8 million refinanced mortgages. Of this total, 621,803 were HARP refinances with loan to values between 80% and 125%. This is up from 190,180 in 2009, when HARP began … * WASHINGTON (3/15/11)--Both of Michigan's U.S. senators announced
their support and co-sponsorship for The Small Business Lending Enhancement Act introduced in the Senate on Wednesday, said the Michigan Credit Union League (Michigan Monitor March 14). The bill would raise the cap on member business lending by credit unions from the current 12.25% of assets to 27.5%. League CEO David Adams lauded Sens. Carl Levin (D) and Debbie Stabenow (D) for their support. “Michigan desperately needs more capital for small businesses,” Adams said. “Our senators have given great momentum to this important legislation and we thank them.” He also noted that this MBL support also comes at a time when both Levin and Stabenow have pledged to look hard at credit unions’ No. 1 issue: the delay, study and fix for the debit interchange legislation that threatens to eliminate free checking accounts for consumers. “Both Senators Stabenow and Levin have expressed concern regarding potential harmful effects on credit unions and unintended consequences of higher fees on checking,” Adams said. “We will continue to seek our senators’ influence and action in the Senate as we seek to prevent the very negative effects of the debit interchange legislation on consumers. Raising the MBL is the MCUL’s next highest federal legislative priority, Adams said. As it was in the fall, the bill’s primary sponsor is Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.). U.S. Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif., plans to introduce a companion measure in the House. “We applaud Sen. Udall for reintroducing legislation that will help not only credit unions but our nation’s economic recovery,” Credit Union National Association President CEO Bill Cheney said in statement. “Economic conditions may be improving, but the nation is still in need of more jobs, and small businesses are still in search of affordable and accessible options for capital. Credit unions can help on both fronts.” A recent CUNA study found that lifting the MBL could provide up to $13 billion to small businesses in the first year alone and create over 140,000 new jobs at no cost to taxpayers …


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