Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Matz vote postponed

From CUNA News Now, 7/29/09:

WASHINGTON (7/29/09)--The confirmation of presumptive National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) agency head Deborah Matz on Tuesday was temporarily postponed after the Senate Banking Committee could not assemble the number of members needed to form a quorum.

The committee had scheduled a discussion of Matz's nomination to the NCUA board for Tuesday morning's executive session, but the committee chairman, Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), put off the discussion after his committee did not have the number of senators needed to begin a vote. Sources close to the issue have told News Now that the delay is related to scheduling conflicts and that her expected confirmation is still on track.

If confirmed, Matz will serve on the NCUA board for a second time. Matz gave an indication of how the board would function under her leadership in a nomination hearing held last week, telling legislators that she would maintain the "critical arms-length relationship" between a regulator and the regulated while ensuring that credit unions remained conscious of their commitment to consumer protection, member outreach, and financial education.

It is not known when the committee will next discuss the nomination. However, while members of the House will likely leave for summer recess at the end of this week, the Senate is scheduled to remain in Washington through next week. Senate Banking Committee members could also vote on the Matz nomination if the chairman calls for a quorum and vote while the members are gathered in the Senate chambers for other official business.

Matz's nomination, if approved by the committee, would move on to the full Senate for confirmation.

No more claiming losses

Under House Bill 1495, which was signed into law by Governor Lingle, gamblers will no longer be able to offset their winnings with their losses for Hawai'i state income tax purposes. Previously, gamblers would be taxed only on their net winnings, but now they will be taxed on gross winnings.

Read the Honolulu Advertiser article here.

Friday, July 17, 2009

34 out of 53

The Legislature overrode 34 of Governor Lingle's 53 total vetoes on Wednesday. Among the veto overrides were 2 bills that HCUL testified in support of, HB31, Relating to Employment Practices, and SB1218, Relating to Mortgage Loan Originators.

A complete list of the vetoes that were overridden can be found here. These bills now become law.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Unions Make Offer, State Budget Gap Shrinks

At a meeting between public-employee unions, Governor Lingle, and the 4 County Mayors, an offer for public-sector employees to take a 5% pay cut was made. This offer comes on the heels of the ruling made by Judge Karl Sakamoto, deeming the furloughs ordered by Governor Lingle as unlawful.

The state deficit also shrank yesterday, as new numbers were released by Governor Lingle. Once estimated at approximately $900 million, the deficit is now estimated to be $744 million over the next two years.

Read the Honolulu Advertiser article on the unions' offer here.
Read the Star Bulletin article on the state deficit here.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Longer compliance time needed on CARD Act provision

From CUNA News Now, July 8, 2009:

WASHINGTON (7/8/09)—The Federal Reserve Board must give credit unions more time to comply with a provision of its expected rules to implement new credit card statutes if that provision is going to apply beyond credit cards, the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) urged the federal regulator Tuesday.

CUNA has been working with the Fed to convey credit union concerns regarding a specific requirement in Section 106 of the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009 (CARD Act). That section prohibits creditors from claiming a payments is late unless that creditor adopts reasonable procedures to ensure that p e riodic statements are delivered to consumers no later than 21 days before the payment due date.

"As we explained in...earlier discussions with your staff, Section 106 of the CARD Act is very problematic both because it is one of the very few provisions that apply to all open-end credit, not just credit cards, and because of the upcoming Aug. 20 effective date," wrote CUNA.
Addressing the letter to Sandra Braunstein, director of the Fed's Division of Consumer and Community Affairs, CUNA wrote that if Section 106 is truly to cover all open-ended credit, the scope would be so broad that credit unions cannot realistically comply with the fast-approaching compliance date.

The letter reiterated CUNA's strong and long-standing support for the intent of the CARD Act, which is to eliminate predatory credit card practices. Credit unions back the changes, CUNA said, even though they will require significant adjustments over the next six weeks to ensure that credit card periodic statements are mailed at least 21 days in advance before a late charge may be assessed.

"Credit unions are diligently working with their data processors to implement these changes prior to the August 20, 2009 effective date," CUNA assured.

However, if the section applies also to general lines of credit, lines of credit associated with share draft and checking accounts, signature loans, and home equity lines of credit and--of particular concern to credit unions--to multi-featured, open-end lending programs, a longer compliance timeframe is imperative, CUNA urged.

CUNA President/CEO Dan Mica sent similar letters to Fed Governors Elizabeth Duke and Daniel Tarullo, who are the Fed board members responsible for consumer issues, and asked them to take a leadership role in urging a regulatory correction of the "urgent credit union issues."
Beyond the regulatory front, CUNA is also working with key federal lawmakers and their staffs to clarify whether it was the intent of Congress to apply section 106 beyond credit cards.
The section was added by the Senate shortly before its passage of the extensive credit card bill. Therefore the scope of the provision beyond credit cards was not fully appreciated until after it was signed by the President on May 22, and CUNA and other interested parties had no opportunity to raise questions or express concerns prior to enactment.

"We note that others have also not appreciated the broad scope of this provision. For example, on June 25th, the Office of Thrift Supervision published a summary of the CARD Act, which stated that Section 106 only applies to credit cards. This has undoubtedly created further confusion within the financial institutions industry," the CUNA letter pointed out.

Members of CUNA's Lending Council met with CUNA staff on Monday to provide additional information on the procedural burdens and costs that credit unions face in trying to devise ways to comply with the 21-day requirement applicable to their open-end lending programs.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Potential veto list released

Governor Lingle yesterday released her list of potential vetoes to the public. Among the vetoes are 2 bills HCUL supported in their final forms: HB 31, and SB 1218.

HB 31, Relating to Employment Practices, makes it unlawful to use a credit history report in the hiring or firing of an employee, except in the case of financial institutions.

SB 1218, Relating to Mortgage Loan Originators, would allow the commissioner of financial institutions to regulate, license, examine, and enforce laws regulating mortgage loan originators.

View the entire list of potential vetoes complete with links here.