WASHINGTON (2/15/13)--President Barack Obama's recent cybersecurity executive order and cybersecurity legislation introduced this week were both discussed during a Thursday House Intelligence Committee hearing.
The hearing focused on the state of cyber threat information sharing between the U.S. government and private sector, and cyber information sharing within the private sector.
Committee chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) in prepared remarks said his cybersecurity bill, H.R. 624, "provides positive authority to the government to provide classified cyber threat information to the private sector, and knocks down the barriers that impede cyber threat information sharing among private sector companies, and between private sector companies and the government. It does all this with strong restrictions and safeguards to protect the privacy and civil liberties of Americans."
The bill, also known as the Intelligence and Sharing Protection Act, is cosponsored by ranking committee member C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.). Similar legislation was supported by the Credit Union National Association last year and passed the House last spring.
Hearing witnesses included:
- Former Michigan Governor and current Business Roundtable President John Engler;
- Baltimore Gas & Electric President/CEO Ken DeFontes;
- BITS President Paul Smocer; and
- Kevin Mandia, CEO of MANDIANT Corporation.
For more on the hearing use the resource link.
WASHINGTON (2/15/13)--Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), who at 89 is the Senate's oldest member, announced Thursday that he has decided not to run for re-election next year, it was widely reported.
Lautenberg, a World War II veteran, is expected to make his formal announcement in Paterson, his New Jersey hometown.
Lautenberg first served in the Senate for 19 years from 1982 to 2001. He retired briefly but was re-elected when he decided to run again in 2003.
He will retire when his current term ends in January 2015.
WASHINGTON (UPDATED: 2/15/13, 1:30 p.m. ET)--House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) will join Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) on a high-powered 2013 Credit Union National Association Governmental Affairs Conference lineup.
Hoyer, the second-ranking member of the Democratic leadership, served as House Majority Leader from 2007 until 2011, and has been a member of the House since 1980. He told 2012 GAC attendees he has always been a supporter of the credit union movement, and he praised credit unions for the "remarkable'' role they have played in helping make the middle class's "lives and dreams possible.'' Hoyer's mother was a credit union employee, so the legislator said he learned the importance of credit unions at a young age.
"People live in a more stable and prosperous country because of the work you do,'' he said.
Hoyer will speak in the late morning session on Tuesday, Feb. 26.
Other legislators on the GAC speaking schedule include: Democratic National Committee Chairman and credit union supporter Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), and credit union champions Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.), Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.) and Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.). House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), House Financial Services Committee Ranking Member Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), House Financial Services Committee senior member Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.), Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) and Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-Mo.) are also slated to speak at the 2013 GAC.
CUNA's 2013 GAC will take place Feb. 24-28 at the Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C. This year's GAC theme, "Powerful Cause, Positive Effect," reflects the credit union commitment to the 95 million working Americans who rely on credit unions every day.
For more information, follow the @CUNAverse twitter hashtag #CUNAGAC. Use the resource link to register for the GAC.
WASHINGTON (2/15/13)--This morning you see a new look for the News Now headlines e-mail. It has been re-designed to improve delivery of the top credit union news in an easier-to-read format.
The updated layout is just part of the changes that the Credit Union National Association has made recently to its free, daily online news service.
"CUNA has always been at the top with the depth and breadth of coverage of credit union news. Now our delivery system better organizes and prioritizes how we get that news to readers," said Paul Gentile, CUNA executive vice president of strategic engagement and communications, announcing the change.
"News Now readers let us know that they value what we deliver, but that they can be crunched for time. With the new headlines design, readers can better determine at a glance what stories most impact their work lives," added Lisa McCue, CUNA vice president of editorial communications and News Now editor.
CUNA also recently expanded the scope of its delivery, broadening its reach to 50,000 readers. News Now will continue to provide the latest on legislative, regulatory, policy and compliance developments, the top news of the credit union system, as well as key issues in the markets and innovations in products and services.
ALEXANDRIA, Va. (2/15/13)--Final rules addressing Treasury Inflation Protected Securities (TIPS) and rural districts will lead the day when the National Credit Union Administration holds its next open meeting on Feb. 21.
The NCUA in September 2012 released a proposed rule to allow federal credit unions to purchase TIPS as a permissible investment. Currently, TIPS are not a permissible investment because TIPS reprice their value based on changes in the consumer price index, which is currently a prohibited index for variable rate instruments. However, the agency believes that TIPS will provide an additional investment portfolio risk management tool.
Allowing such investments, as proposed by the NCUA, will allow credit unions to protect against inflation and manage interest-rate risk, Credit Union National Association Deputy General Counsel Mary Dunn has noted.
The rural district final rule follows a September NCUA proposal that would provide more flexibility to federal credit unions serving rural areas by expanding the rural district definition to geographic areas with 200,000 or fewer inhabitants or less than 3% of a given state's population.
Dunn last fall said the NCUA proposal does not go far enough to provide meaningful relief to those credit unions that provide services to rural communities. She urged the NCUA to allow as much authority as legally permissible to federal credit unions to facilitate their presence in these areas of the country that are often are in serious need of financial institution services.
The quarterly insurance fund report will also be presented by NCUA staff.
The open meeting is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. ET.
A final rule addressing NCUA employee conduct is the lone item on the closed meeting agenda. The closed meeting is scheduled to begin at 11:15 a.m.
For the full NCUA agenda, use the resource link.
WASHINGTON (UPDATED: 12/15/13, 10 a.m. ET)--A bill that would make significant improvements in privacy notices for consumers was just reintroduced in the House. Reps. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-Mo.) and Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) introduced "The Eliminate Privacy Notice Confusion Act."
The House unanimously passed an identical bill before the 112th Congress adjourned, but the Senate had not acted on the legislation. Therefore, the bill must be re-introduced for consideration in both chambers this year.
In a letter of support for the privacy notice change, CUNA President/CEO Bill Cheney noted to the bill's co-sponsors that consumers are rightfully concerned about the protection of their personal financial information, and it is important for them to understand how their financial institutions handle this information.
However, Cheney warned, under current rules, credit unions alone have sent an estimated 1 billion annual privacy notifications to members since 2001.
"A recent voter survey indicated that fewer than one-quarter of consumers read the privacy notifications they receive, and over three-quarters of consumers would be more likely to read them if they were only sent when the financial institution changed its policy
"This suggests that the public policy goal of privacy notifications would be better achieved if the notices had more meaning to consumers. We believe your bill achieves this end," wrote Cheney.
Yesterday, two key pieces of legislation that would enhance the credit union charter were introduced in the House: One bill that would address the credit union member business lending (MBL) cap, and another to improve credit unions' access to secondary capital. (See today's News Now for more on that development.)
WASHINGTON (2/15/13)--The membership of the 11 bipartisan groups set up by the House Ways and Means Committee to craft separate areas of a tax code overhaul includes lawmakers with a good understanding of credit union issues and the credit union difference, Ryan Donovan, senior vice president of legislative affairs for the Credit Union National Association, observed Thursday.
"Those who understand credit unions and understand the public policy reasons for the credit union tax-exemption also know that it is something to protect for the sake of consumers.
"Credit unions are the best option for consumers to conduct their financial services, but taxing credit unions would eliminate this option entirely," Donovan said.
Preserving the tax status of credit unions is a top CUNA priority. Under the Federal Credit Union Act, federal and state-chartered credit unions are exempt from federal income tax because they are cooperatives operated for and by their members, and because credit union shares are essentially members' deposits. The tax status has been re-affirmed periodically by the U.S. Congress and is supported by many lawmakers.
The Ways and Means working groups each will be led by a Republican House member with a Democrat as vice chair. They will focus on the following areas:
- Charitable and exempt organizations;
- Debt, equity and capital;
- Education and family benefits;
- Financial services;
- Income and tax distribution;
- Real estate; and
- Small business and pass throughs.
The groups on financial services and on exempt organizations are the two most likely to study the credit union tax status. The financial services group will be led by Rep. Adrian Smith (R-Neb.) and vice chaired by Rep. John Larson (D-Conn.) The charitable and exempt organizations group is headed by Rep. David Reichert (R-Wash.) with Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) as vice chair.
WASHINGTON (2/15/13)--Two key pieces of legislation that would enhance the credit union charter were introduced in the U.S. House Thursday: One bill that would address the credit union member business lending (MBL) cap, and another to improve credit unions' access to secondary capital.
"Credit union membership grew by at least 2.4 million in 2012--the greatest membership growth in 15 years," said CUNA President/CEO Bill Cheney. "These two key pieces of legislation represent tools that will give credit unions greater options for serving their growing memberships--including small business owners in search of credit to keep their businesses and their communities thriving."
Reps. Ed Royce (R-Calif.) and Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y.) introduced the MBL legislation, H.R. 688, which would increase the credit union MBL cap to 27.5% of assets, from the current 12.25%-of-assets level. The bill, if enacted, would help credit unions lend an additional $14.5 billion to small businesses in just the first year after enactment. This money, which would be made available at no expense to taxpayers, would in turn help small businesses create around 158,000 new jobs.
"Small businesses are the backbone of our economy and it is critical that Congress look at proposals that help them to grow, thrive and hire," Royce said in a release. McCarthy added: "We must support America's small businesses as we continue to grow our economy. This bipartisan bill will help small businesses grow and hire new workers at zero cost to taxpayers."
The supplemental capital bill was introduced by Reps. Peter King (R-N.Y.) and Brad Sherman (D-Calif.). That bill would permit the National Credit Union Administration to allow credit unions to raise capital from sources other than retained earnings without putting in jeopardy the 'one member, one vote' principle that is the bedrock of the credit union ownership structure. "As credit unions emerge from the financial crisis, this legislation would improve the safety and soundness of credit unions by allowing them to develop a supplemental cushion to reduce risk to the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund," Cheney added.
"Our thanks to Reps. Royce and McCarthy, as well as Reps. King and Sherman for bringing these important measures forward," Cheney said. "More than 4,000 credit union representatives will be in Washington the week of Feb. 25 for the CUNA Governmental Affairs Conference, and these bills will be at the top of the lists for many as they discuss legislation for credit unions in the 113th Congress."
For CUNA letters to Congress on both bills, use the resource links.
ALEXANDRIA, Va. (2/15/13)--Credit unions providing tax assistance services should be mindful of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) for certain, qualified taxpayers, the National Credit Union Administration reminded Thursday.
For the 2012 tax year, the EITC can return up $5,891 to eligible taxpayers, helping to improve the financial situation of low- to moderate-income families, the agency said in a release.
The EITC was created in 1975 as a means to offset the burden of Social Security taxes. The tax credit is intended to help low- and moderate-income families cover living expenses, rebuild their savings or invest it in their local communities.
NCUA Chairman Debbie Matz said, "We hope credit unions that have members who qualify for the credit will carry this message, especially those credit unions that participate in NCUA's Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Initiative."
Under the VITA Initiative, NCUA has provided 2012 grants up to $25,000 to credit unions starting or expanding their tax assistance programs. The funds are used to offset the administrative and operational costs associated with these services.
The NCUA reported that during the 2011 tax session, credit unions that participated in the VITA program completed 23,979 tax returns and returned $13,961,738 in EITC to their members.
Use the resource link for more information on the EITC.
WASHINGTON (2/15/13)--Noting that "there is a very scattered and disparate approach" to financial literacy education right now, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Richard Cordray said his agency wants to work with the U.S. Congress, other federal agencies and states to address the issue.
The CFPB director spoke during a Thursday Senate Banking Committee hearing entitled "Wall Street Reform: Oversight of Financial Stability and Consumer and Investor Protections." Cordray was one of seven regulators that discussed Wall Street reform implementation during the hearing.
Basic Financial literacy "is something that we've lost… and something we need to focus on," Cordray said. The CFPB Director said the agency is working with 15 or 20 other federal agencies to address financial literacy issues.
Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) noted there are 56 different federal financial literacy programs, and he asked Cordray to analyze the programs and make a recommendation to congress on which programs could be eliminated. "With 56, if we start another one or another two or three and don't change those, we're throwing money out the door," the senator said. Cordray said he would follow up on the issue and work with Coburn.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) also spoke during the first banking committee hearing of 2013, asking witnesses why their agencies had not pursued more court cases against Wall Street banks. Many of the witnesses said banks had reached financial settlements with the government, but were not taken to trial. "I'm really concerned that too big to fail has become too big for trial," Warren said.
Warren also joined 53 Democratic and Independent senators to sign a letter commending President Barack Obama's decision to re-nominate Cordray for the CFPB Director position. The letter cosignors said they would support Cordray's nomination, and they oppose and structural changes to the CFPB.
A group of 44 Republican senators have said they will oppose Cordray's nomination unless structural changes are made to the CFPB.
For more on the hearing and the Senate CFPB letter, use the resource links.