Monday, November 1, 2010

Tomorrow's Outlook

New York Times has released a set of projections for tomorrow's big elections. Click the links below to see their predictions (based on polling & demographic data) for Hawaii's big races:

Hawaii Governor

House District 1

House District 2

Senate

List of CULAC Candidates

Click on the link below to view the complete list of Congressional candidates who support credit union issues.

Tomorrow is Election Day, so please get out and VOTE for candidates who support the credit union movement!

2010 CULAC Candidates

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Informed Voter

Be prepared for election day this year, and read up on the candidates and issues.

Honolulu Star Advertiser Voter's Guide

HCUL Elections Center

Friday, October 1, 2010

Constituional Amendments

Read up on the ConAms that will be on the November 2nd ballot, before you vote. Helps to make a decision before you get into that booth!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Find Your Polling Place...and VOTE!

Click here to find your polling place. It may have changed this year, so make sure you know where to vote!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Governor to Select Replacement Senators

Governor Lingle will choose replacement Senators on a temporary basis for 2 seats that were vacated. Senator Robert Bunda (Mililani Mauka, Wahiawa, Haleiwa, North Shore, Mokuleia) and Senator Gary Hooser (Kauai, Niihau) both resigned to run for Lieutenant Governor this year.

The temporary Senators will only serve until the General Election in November.

Read the KITV article here.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

New Elections Center Launched

Just in time for the 2010 elections, HCUL has launched the 2010 Elections Center. There, you will find what you need to be an informed voter in what promises to be one of the most contentious elections years in Hawaii's history.

Visit the new elections center here.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Voters will pick Mayor & Prosecutor in September

The Honolulu City Council yesterday set the date for two special elections triggered by the resignations of Mayor Mufi Hannemann and Prosecutor Peter Carlisle. Both winner-take-all elections will be held on the date of the Primary Elections: September 18.

Read the Star-Advertiser article here.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Act 195

HB 2289, Relating to Gift Certificates, has been named Act 195, becoming law today.

Read the Governor's Statement of Concern.

Gift cards bill to become law

The Governor's veto list was released yesterday, and NOT among the vetoes was HB 2289, Relating to Gift Certificates.

The bill will become law without the Governor's signature.

Read the KITV news story here.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Gift Cards bill on bubble

HB 2289, Relating to Gift Certificates was placed on the Governor's potential veto list on June 21st. The bill would extend the expiration date of gift cards from 2 to 5 years, would allow limited issuance or activation fees, and clarifies the definition of "gift certificate". This bill would basically conform to the federal CARD act.

Click here to view the letter to the Governor, urging her not to veto this bill.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Interchange Update: Bad News

From CUNA News Now, 6/22/2010

CUNA reviews House interchange alternative; urges CU opposition
WASHINGTON (6/22/10)--After an initial review of alternative interchange language offered yesterday by the House as a substitute to a Senate provision in the financial regulatory reform bill, the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) urged credit unions to continue working for improvements to interchange provisions.

"We will continue working for improvements in the interchange provisions, and we urge you to continue your efforts to oppose the inclusion of the interchange bill in the financial reform legislation," said CUNA Senior Vice President of Legislative Affairs John Magill.
CUNA also provided a brief summary of some key provisions of the new interchange amendment. They include the following:

• The Federal Reserve would write regulations on interchange fees and whether they are reasonable and proportional to the marginal costs incurred by issuers relating to a transaction. The Fed board would issue rules within nine months of enactment (probably around March/April 2011). The rules would take effect within a year. The costs would be limited to incremental costs of authorization, clearance and settlement plus costs related to preventing fraud;
• Credit unions and banks with assets of less than $10 billion would be exempt from the rate-setting rules directly. However, the extent to which this exemption would work in practice is unclear and subject to much debate;
• There is no enforcement mechanism to ensure merchants would accept lower interchange fees from bank debit cards and higher interchange fees from credit union debit cards;
• The amendment would prohibit issuers and networks from inhibiting the ability of merchants to direct the routing of transactions;
• Federal and state government benefits and reloadable prepaid cards would be exempt from the rate settings;
• The Fed would be authorized to require any issuer (including credit unions of all sizes) to provide information to the board regarding the regulation of interchange fees and must disclose aggregate information on costs and fees by issuers or payment card networks in connection with debit transactions. (This is a new provision about which CUNA is concerned. However, CUNA notes that if the Fed has to set interchange fees based on costs, it will be useful for them to include credit union data);
• In its rules, the Fed would have to consider the similarity between debit transactions and checks that clear the Federal Reserve System at par and to distinguish between the incremental costs incurred by an issuer for its role in settlement, clearance or authorization for a particular transaction;
• In writing the rule, the Fed board would have to consult with the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) and other federal regulators;
• The Fed would also be directed to write rules on network fees to ensure network fees are not used to compensate an issuer or to evade the board's rules;
• The amendment does provide that merchant discounts for the form of payment (cash versus debit card, for example) may not differentiate on the basis of the issuer or network. Incentives for the use of credit cards may not differentiate on the basis of issuer or payment network and such incentives must be offered to all buyers and disclosed;
• Payment networks may not limit the ability of merchants to set minimum dollar values up to $10 for the acceptance of credit cards; and
• Merchants would not be able to discriminate between debit cards or credit cards within a payment network on the basis of the issuer.

CUNA will provide detailed analysis of any final interchange bill.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Russell Simmons Letter

Hip-hop mogul and entrepreneur Russell Simmons published a letter he sent to Senator Richard Durbin on the Huffington Post last week, opposing the Senator's interchange amendment.

Read the article here:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/russell-simmons/senator-durbin-dont-dump_b_603004.html

Friday, June 4, 2010

Hike the Hill for Interchange

From CUNA News Now, 6/4/2010:

Interchange efforts increase ahead of next week's hill hike

WASHINGTON (6/4/10)—With the number of responses to the Credit Union National Association's (CUNA) call for grassroots interchange advocacy totaling over 150,000 as of Thursday night, credit unions and credit union leagues also are working to urge their federal lawmakers to block interchange language from a financial regulatory reform package.

The House and Senate are currently working toward resolving differences between their respective versions of financial regulatory reform bills. The Senate bill proposes to allow government intervention in setting interchange fees, while the House bill has no interchange language.

Among the many leagues working to positively change the financial regulatory reform package are groups from Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, California and Oklahoma.

The Ohio Credit Union League has noted the more than 7,000 contacts with Ohio congressmen and women that have been made by over 2,300 leaders from 91 Ohio credit unions. The Madison Chapter of the Wisconsin Credit Union League last week ran a full-page, open letter to debit card users in the Wisconsin State Journal and has also taken to social networking websites such as Facebook to encourage "friends" to fight the new interchange regulations.

The Pennsylvania League has also highlighted the efforts of Hershey FCU, Patriot FCU, American Heritage FCU, Guthrie FCU, Erie FCU, and PSECU, and encouraged its member credit unions to "inundate district offices with letters, phone calls, and faxes" and to oppose interchange changes by directly speaking with their congressional representatives at local appearances.

Sen. Richard Durbin's (D-Ill.) interchange proposal, which would direct the Federal Reserve to issue regulations to govern interchange fees charged for debit card transactions, continues to receive critical press. The Washington Times was among the latest news source to speak against interchange changes, with a Wednesday editorial warning readers that Durbin's amendment is "aimed at your wallet."

"Inevitably," the editorial adds, the costs of running debit card programs "will be shifted from merchants to consumers."

CUNA continues to encourage all state credit union leagues to coordinate with their member credit unions to ensure that their D.C.-based representatives are informed of the dangers that interchange legislation poses to credit unions and to promote participation in next week's Hike the Hill, which will give credit union leagues and employees direct access to their elected representatives.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

National Teleconference on Interchange

From Dan Mica:

I know this is short notice, but please plan to dial in and participate in a 30-minute national teleconference on interchange that CUNA is holding tomorrow, Thursday May 27, at 2 p.m. Eastern time. On this urgent call I will update you on CUNA and league efforts and strategy to remove the interchange fee amendments the Senate inserted into the regulatory reform legislation pending in Congress. And we will spell out what we need your credit union to do at the grassroots level, starting next week while members of Congress are back at home for the Memorial Day district work period. We understand how important interchange is to you, and we are pulling out all the stops to remove the Senate interchange language. It will take an all-out grassroots effort, so we need credit unions unions like yours to speak out directly to lawmakers. We'll tell you more on tomorrow's call.

The Phone number for this call is: 1-877-238-4671
Enter the Conference Passcode: 885145

Note: You should call at least 15 minutes ahead of time and it may take several minutes to connect because of call volume. If you receive a busy signal when dialing the number above, please proceed to dial one of the following numbers and utilize the corresponding passcode

2) Toll free: 1-866-288-9872
Enter the Conference Passcode: 114884

3) Toll free: 1-866-548-4713
Enter the Conference Passcode: 290492

4) Toll free: 1-877-238-4695
Enter the Conference Passcode: 806878

Although we have reserved 3,000 lines, please limit your credit union to one line so that we may get maximum participation. You can also find out more information about the call at this link on CUNA's web site: http://trainingdev.cuna.org/audio/T052710_fct.html Thank you.

Dan Mica

President & CEO

Interchange Action Alert

From CUNA News Now:

CUNA defines issues, continues interchange fight

WASHINGTON (5/26/10)--With conferees for the upcoming congressional
regulatory reform conference being announced this week, the Credit Union
National Association (CUNA) will again urge legislators to drop interchange
provisions in the current Senate bill, because they would increase costs and
reduce choice for consumers.

The interchange provisions, which were introduced by Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.)
during the recently concluded amendatory process, would direct the Federal
Reserve to issue regulations to govern interchange fees charged for debit card
transactions, to assure that they are what the proposed language terms
"reasonable and proportional" to the cost incurred in processing the transaction.
Although Durbin's amendment exempts credit unions with under $10 billion in
assets, CUNA remains opposed to the interchange provision and is very
concerned about unintended consequences for credit unions. Under the Durbin
provision, big issuers would be forced to charge a presumably lower rate set by
the Federal Reserve, while credit unions and other small issuers would continue
at their current interchange rates for debit card transactions.

While CUNA acknowledges that the exemption seems good in theory, the group
identifies a major loophole as written: Nothing in the amendment would require
the payment card networks to operate a two-rate system, and there is no reason
to believe they would do so absent a mandate. Therefore, CUNA believes that,
ultimately, the payment card networks would simply lower small issuer debit
interchange rates to match the rates set by the Federal Reserve for large issuers.
Another competitive advantage for larger issuers could be potential preferential
treatment for lower-cost card transactions by large retailers. CUNA is also
concerned that merchants would discriminate against credit unions by providing
certain discounts for cash and check payments.

The merchant groups that have promoted changes to interchange rules have
claimed that their backers would return any interchange savings to their paying
customers. However, a pair of amendments that would have statutorily required
retailers to pass those savings along to consumers were opposed by retailer
groups and, ultimately, failed to be included in the final legislation. Further, any
savings that are seen by consumers would likely be negated by new charges that
lenders will assess on individual accounts.

"Consumers will pay either way," according to CUNA Chief Economist Bill
Hampel.

CUNA remains opposed to the legislation. Though the legislation will require
larger credit issuers to lower their rates to a reduced rate established by the
Federal Reserve, credit unions and other small financial institutions would
continue to offer their current interchange rates.

Further, nothing in the amendment would require large credit networks to operate
a dual-rate credit system. Another competitive advantage for larger issuers would
be potential preferential treatment from large retailers. CUNA is also concerned
that merchants would discriminate against credit unions by providing certain
discounts for cash and check payments.

The merchant groups that have promoted changes to interchange rules have
claimed that their backers would return any interchange savings to their paying
customers. However, a pair of amendments that would have statutorily required
retailers to pass those savings along to consumers were opposed by retailer
groups and, ultimately, failed to be included in the final legislation. Further, any
savings that are seen by consumers would likely be negated by new charges that
lenders will assess on individual accounts.

Interchange legislation was not included in the House's financial regulatory
restructuring bill, and the Senate interchange amendment will come up for debate
during the House/Senate conference sessions. The Senate on Tuesday
announced that Democrats Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.), Tim
Johnson (D-S.D.), Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Jack
Reed (D-R.I.) and Republicans Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), Saxby Chambliss (RGa.),
Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) and Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) are
being considered to be among the conferees.

While CUNA will continue discussions with these senators in the days leading up
to the conference, CUNA's grassroots advocacy strategy will cast a wider net,
asking credit union representatives to contact their respective members of
Congress, no matter what their level of conference participation is.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Tax Exemptions

SB 2402 SD1 HD1 is being heard in Conference Committee today at 5:00 pm. This bill would remove the GE tax exemption on the sale of tangible goods and services to credit unions, setting the tax at 1%. This bill would also place a 1% tax on proceeds received by HCUL from conventions, trade shows, etc.

The conferees are:
Senate: Senators Donna Mercado Kim, Carol Fukunaga, Michelle Kidani, Russell Kokubun, Shan Tsutsui, and Fred Hemmings.
House: Representatives Marcus Oshiro, Marilyn Lee, Isaac Choy, Pono Chong, and Lynn Finnegan.

Read the letter sent to members of the conference committee.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Deadline

Today marks the deadline known as "second decking" at the Hawaii State Legislature. This means that all bills must have been heard by their final committee referral by today, and filed by tonight. All bills that do not make this deadline are considered "dead".

One bill of note that will die if it is not heard today and filed tonight, is HB 2877, which in its current form, would raise the GE tax. Its original form would have taken away the GE tax exemption for various non-profits, including credit unions.

Click here to view and download the current bill tracking spreadsheet.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Updated Bill Tracking

Click here to view the updated bill tracking spreadsheet.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

GE tax exemption bill hearing today

HB 2877 HD1, which would temporarily suspend the GE tax exemption for many non-profit groups, including credit unions, is being heard in the Senate today. The tax would be levied at a rate of 1%.

Read the bill.

Read HCUL's testimony.

Monday, March 15, 2010

National Conference of State Legislatures Update

The House Finance Committee will be holding in informational briefing today regarding the NCSL's fiscal update. This briefing will cover many aspects of current fiscal conditions in Hawaii and in the rest of the nation.

Get the hearing notice.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Bill Tracking Updates

View the tracking spreadsheet here.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Post-Crossover bill tracking update

View the bill tracking spreadsheet here.

Monday, February 22, 2010

GE tax exemption testimony

HB 2877 proposed HD1 - Relating to Taxation
This bill would temporarily suspend the GE tax exemptions for various non-profit organizations, including credit unions, for a five-year period. The tax would be levied at 1/2 of 1%.

This bill would temporarily suspend the GE tax exemptions for various business leagues and trade associations, including the Hawaii Credit Union League.

Both of these measures are up for decision-making today at 4:30p. in House Finance.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Updated bill tracking

Go here to view the bill tracking spreadsheet.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Testimony

SB 2883 - Relating to Employment Practices

SB 2603 - Relating to the SAFE Act

HB 2935 - Relating to Employment Practices

HB 2289 - Relating to Gift Certificates

HB 2207 - Relating to Employment Security

HB 2169 (LAB) - Relating to Employment Security

HB 2169 (FIN) - Relating to Employment Security

HB 2132 - Relating to Mortgage Foreclosures

HB 304 - Relating to Foreclosures