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New Tools Fuel Today's 'Don't Tax Tuesday' Two

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WASHINGTON (9/10/13)--It's "Don't Tax Tuesday." Today credit union advocates welcome the U.S. Congress back to town, after a five-week District Work Session, by lighting up social media with a unified message to lawmakers: "Don't Tax My Credit Union."

Today's major online advocacy effort launches round two of the major social media push, which uses Twitter, Facebook and the Credit Union National Association's own DontTaxMyCreditUnion.org website to reach out to legislators.

"It is our hope that this campaign will keep pressure on Congress, as many key members of the House and Senate are committed to comprehensive tax reform," said Paul Gentile, Executive Vice President of Strategic Communications and Engagement at CUNA. "This is an important time for credit unions and we want to make sure our message is heard loud and clear."

CUNA is encouraging credit union supporters to create their own simple messages, incorporating the "hashtag" symbol #DontTaxMyCU.

The DontTaxMyCreditUnion.org site has also been enhanced with new functionality: Site users can access a plug-in that will allow credit unions and their supporters to enter their contact information, resulting in a pre-drafted tweet and Facebook post that will automatically fill in the handles of that user's lawmaker.

And, new to the advocacy campaign, CUNA has produced a Spanish-language version of the Don't Tax site, www.NoImpuestosAMiCU.org, to tell Congress "No Le Cobren Impuestos a mi Credit Union." Also, new on cuna.org is a Spanish language toolkit, video message, and action center.

#DontTaxTuesday is a part of CUNA's larger "Don't Tax My Credit Union" campaign. Since launching in late May, the CUNA site has received over 1 million hits and the campaign has generated over 810,000 messages to Congress. This effort also sparked a robust discussion on social media, including members of Congress voicing their support for credit unions in various forms. 

These continued online efforts are building support for CUNA's National Virtual Rally, planned for Wednesday, Oct. 2. Rather than rallying supporters at the National Mall--like so many campaigns do--this movement will rally tens of thousands of credit union members nationwide online.

CUNA and credit union leagues are also preparing for a massive in-person Hike the Hill presence in Washington, with 20 leagues representing 28 states carrying the Don't Tax My Credit Union message to Capitol Hill in September and October.

Tax, Housing Reform On Minds As Congress Returns

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WASHINGTON (9/10/13)--The U.S. Congress has officially returned to Washington for the fall session, and the Credit Union National Association expects progress to be made this month on tax and housing issues that could be taken up later in the year.

As tax discussions return to Washington this week, credit unions, state leagues and CUNA are preparing to welcome back Congress today by holding another #DontTaxTuesday. (See News Now story: New Tools Fuel Today's 'Don't Tax Tuesday' Two.)

The campaign will include a large social media push, in which credit union members and advocates nationwide will Tweet their lawmakers or post on their Facebook page a "Don't Tax My Credit Union" message.

CUNA has also been hard at work on the housing front, holding several meetings with legislators and their staff from both sides of the aisle. The Protecting American Taxpayers and Homeowner (PATH) Act of 2013 (H.R. 2767) was one of the topics covered in those meetings, and that bill could be discussed by the full U.S. House as early as October. (See resource link.)

"We expect changes to be made to the PATH Act between now and when it goes to the floor and we have identified several areas where the bill could be improved for small volume lenders like credit unions," CUNA Senior Vice President of Legislative Affairs Ryan Donovan said.

New housing reform measures are also being developed in the Senate.

Donovan said Banking Committee Chairman Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) and Ranking Committee Member Mike Crapo (R-Calif.) appear to be working together on a new housing finance bill that may closely resemble legislation introduced in the Senate by Sens. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.) last June. CUNA earlier this summer called that bill (S. 1217) a positive step towards creating a sustainable and affordable housing market. (See resource link.)

Johnson and Crapo will likely hold weekly hearings on housing issues throughout this month, Donovan said. The first of these hearings is scheduled for this Thursday. House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) set the schedule for his committee. (See Sept. 4 News Now: House Financial Services Sets Early Sept. Agenda.)

Other Capitol Hill hearings scheduled for this week include:
  • A Tuesday Senate Banking Committee hearing on Export-Import Bank and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development nominations; and
  • A Wednesday Joint Economic Committee hearing entitled "The Economic Outlook."
The House will be in session this week and next week before recessing during the week of Sept. 23. The Senate is expected to remain in session that week.

CUNA: More CU Relief Needed From High-priced Mortgage Proposal

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WASHINGTON (9/10/13)--While many credit unions are not motivated to offer Higher-Priced Mortgage Loans (HPMLs) to their members, more and more of them are becoming subject to HPML regulations as a result of Dodd-Frank Act definition changes, and any additional regulatory relief that can be provided is welcome for covered credit unions, Credit Union National Association Senior Assistant General Counsel Luke Martone wrote.

Martone's comments came in a comment letter filed with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The letter addressed a joint proposal that would provide additional exemptions from HPML appraisal requirements under Regulation Z. The proposal, which was issued by the CFPB, National Credit Union Administration, and other federal financial regulators, would exempt certain transactions from the appraisal requirements for HPMLs, as set forth in the joint final rule adopted in January of this year.

Martone said CUNA generally supports the proposal. However, the comment letter did make some suggestions to improve the proposal.

The final rule lays out certain appraisal requirements for loans that qualify as HPMLs, which the rule defines as a closed-end loan secured by the consumer's principal dwelling where the annual percentage rate exceeds the average prime offer rate by:
  • 1.5 percentage points for a first-lien non-jumbo loan;
  • 2.5 percentage points for a first-lien jumbo loan; or
  • 3.5 percentage points for a junior-lien loan.
The final rule exempts certain transactions from the appraisal requirements, such as qualified mortgages and reverse mortgages.

The proposal would provide additional exemptions from the HPML appraisal requirements, including:
  • Transactions secured by existing manufactured homes excluding land;
  • Certain streamlined refinancings; and
  • Transactions of $25,000 or less.
Improvements suggested by CUNA include increasing the $25,000 threshold to $50,000, and providing up to six months of additional compliance time to help covered credit unions implement changes required under the rule.

For the full comment letter, use the resource link.

North Dade CDFCU Subject Of NCUA C-and-D Order

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ALEXANDRIA, Va. (9/10/13)--The National Credit Union Administration has issued a cease and desist order to North Dade Community Development FCU, Miami Gardens, Fla., requiring 11 changes to operations. 

The agency said North Dade officials have consented to the order, which requires the following actions:
  • Cease and desist transacting all business activity for money services businesses not located within the credit union's geographic field of membership;
  • Suspend transacting business activity for all remaining member money services businesses until an adequate Bank Secrecy Act (BSA)/Anti-Money Laundering/Office of Foreign Assets Control program is developed and implemented;
  • Verify that all members are within the credit union's field of membership;
  • Identify all bank secrecy/anti-money laundering/foreign assets control compliance deficiencies;
  • Designate a BSA compliance officer;
  • Complete a comprehensive bank secrecy/anti-money laundering/foreign assets control risk assessment;
  • Revise and document board approval for all policies relating to bank secrecy, anti-money laundering, and foreign assets control;
  • Ensure staff and officials are adequately trained on all bank secrecy, anti-money laundering, and foreign assets control applicable laws and regulations;
  • Develop a system of internal controls to ensure ongoing compliance with all applicable bank secrecy, anti-money laundering, and foreign assets control laws and regulations;
  • Conduct bank secrecy, anti-money laundering, and foreign assets control compliance program testing; and
  • Ensure bank secrecy, anti-money laundering, and foreign assets control testing is complete and results are reported to the board of directors. 
North Dade Community Development FCU was chartered in 1997, has assets of $5.8 million, and serves 780 members, according to the credit union's most recent Call Report.

Data Security Standards, New FHA Homeowner Help In CUNA Reg Advo Report

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WASHINGTON (9/10/13)--Details on a trio of developments in the areas of credit reporting, mortgages, and data security are among the items highlighted in this week's edition of the Credit Union National Association's Regulatory Advocacy Report.

First, the credit reporting details: Last week, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau released a new compliance bulletin that addresses credit providers obligations to "review all relevant information" they receive in connection with accountholder disputes that are forwarded to card issuers by credit reporting agencies.

CUNA Deputy General Counsel Mary Dunn in the Report encouraged credit unions to read and become familiar with this bulletin and other guidance documents, noting that financial regulatory examiners may begin studying the areas addressed in these documents more closely in credit union examinations going forward.

This week's Report also addresses the Federal Housing Administration's (FHA) new "Back to Work" program. The program, Dunn noted, could help borrowers that lost their jobs and homes during the recession to qualify for an FHA-insured mortgage.

To qualify for the program, potential borrowers will need to demonstrate that their financial hardships were tied to events beyond their control, and will also be required to complete counseling. They will also need to meet all FHA requirements. "It is likely lenders will need to make judgment calls when assessing whether the requirements for the Back to Work program have been met," Dunn wrote.

This week's Report also previews proposed changes to Version 3.0 of the PCI Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) and Payment Application Data Security Standard (PA-DSS). The security updates, which are expected to be released this November, are intended to:
  • Provide a stronger focus on business processes and controls;
  • Account for risk areas with different threats; and
  • Provide greater clarity for PCI requirements.
Other items in this week's Report include:
  • A Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta update on Europay-MasterCard-Visa migration developments; and
  • CUNA comments on a joint proposal that would provide additional exemptions from Higher-Priced Mortgage Loan appraisal requirements.
A resource chart with information on current CUNA comment calls is also provided in the Report. The Regulatory Advocacy Report also includes updated regulatory advocacy resource charts with comprehensive information on proposed and final CFPB rulemakings, and the more than 150 updated federal regulations that impact credit unions.

For this week's Regulatory Advocacy Report, use the resource link.