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Inside Washington (05/16/2011)
* WASHINGTON (5/17/11)--In a letter to lawmakers outlining how it has interpreted its authority under the Dodd-Frank Act, the Office of Comptroller of Currency (OCC) maintained that its 2004 preemption rule is still valid for national banks. Some Democrats and state regulatory officials argued the 2004 rule was overturned by Dodd-Frank. State rights advocates maintain the OCC misinterpreted Congress’ intentions in Dodd-Frank (American Banker May 16). Dodd-Frank appeared to overturn the OCC’s preemption rule, which said that national banks do not have to comply with any state laws that “obstruct, impair or condition” the business of banking. This is known as the Barnett standard, a reference to a landmark 1996 Supreme Court decision related to preemption. Dodd-Frank appeared to overturn additional language used by the OCC in its 2004 preemption rule. While the agency said the new language was an attempt to "distill" the Barnett standard, many state officials said it was an attempt to preempt additional laws. In the letter sent to Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) and other lawmakers, the OCC admitted the new language should be removed from the 2004 regulation, but the agency said it does not substantively change its position. Carper said the provisions do not create a new preemption standard, but clarify that the preemption tests laid out by the Supreme Court in the Barnett case still apply .. * WASHINGTON (5/17/11)--House Republican lawmakers on Friday introduced seven more bills designed to break up the government-sponsored enterprises. That makes 15 bills total that seek to dismantle Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The bills cover everything from the GSEs’ legal expenses to a cap on their liabilities and subjecting them to the Freedom of Information Act (American Banker May 16). Rep. Don Manzullo (R-Ill.) said the incremental approach is good public policy, integrating opinions, suggestions, and criticisms from a variety of sources within the financial system. Of the new bills, one measure introduced by Manzullo would prevent the Treasury Department from decreasing the 10% dividend that Fannie and Freddie are required to pay taxpayers to ensure the two companies continue to repay on their public debt. Two other bills would cap Fannie's and Freddie's liabilities to limit the cost to taxpayers bailing out the GSEs and shield taxpayers from the growing legal expenses of the two companies. Another bill would require that if the Freddie and Fannie are put into receivership, they would be wound down, and no new entity with taxpayer backing would be established …


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