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Reg accountability online gambling hearings lead week
WASHINGTON (10/25/11)--With senators returning to their home districts until Oct. 31 and no financial services-related legislation on the House docket, credit unions will want to watch a trio of House hearings for potential action.

Two of these hearings will take place on Tuesday. The first of these hearings is scheduled for 10:15 a.m.(ET) before the House Judiciary Committee. That hearing will focus on the Regulatory Accountability Act of 2011 (H.R. 3010), legislation that would reform the process by which federal agencies analyze and formulate new regulations and guidance documents. Business owners and academics will testify during the hearing. 

Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Tex.), the chief sponsor of the bill, in a release said the bill would reform the current rulemaking process to lower the costs and improve the quality of new regulations and require federal agencies to hold formal hearings to test the assumptions and evidence on which the costliest new rules are based. A separate regulatory reduction bill has also been introduced in the Senate.

Reducing regulatory burden for credit unions is a top Credit Union National Association (CUNA) priority, and CUNA has frequently called on the National Credit Union Administration, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and other federal agencies to ease the working environment for credit unions.

CUNA is also keeping an eye on Tuesday's House Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing entitled:  "Internet Gaming:  Is there a Safe Bet?" Legislation that would allow the U.S. Treasury to license internet gambling operators and would permit approved operators to accept bets from U.S. citizens was offered in the House earlier this year by Rep. John Campbell (R-Calif.), with Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) serving as its main co-sponsor.

The House bill would ease the compliance burdens imposed by the Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act (UIGEA) by supplying a list of approved Internet gambling providers that financial institutions could use to help determine what transactions to validate. While many transactions that are made with illegal gambling operators are blocked, the UIGEA regulations do result in a large number of false positives, creating issues for both credit union members and credit unions. Frank introduced identical legislation last year, and that bill gained House Financial Services Committee approval in July, but did not come up for further vote in the full House.

The House Financial Services financial institutions subcommittee has also scheduled a Thursday hearing on a U.S. Internal Revenue Service proposal that would require credit unions and other financial institutions to report on their Form 1042-S interest of $10 or more earned annually on deposit accounts held by nonresident aliens who are residents of any foreign country.

CUNA strongly opposes this regulation, and earlier this year asked the Internal Revenue Service to withdraw a proposed rule that would expand reporting requirements for interest paid to nonresident aliens, saying that the proposals costs to financial institutions and consumers will far outweigh any benefit to the IRS.


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