Regulatory Advocacy Update
November 16, 2011
November 17, 2011
Decker Nomination Still Not on Docket
Carla Decker, White House nominee for the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) board and president/CEO of the $47 million District Government Employees Credit Union, is not on the witness list for the Nov. 17 Senate Banking Committee nominations hearing. Though never officially scheduled, it was widely speculated that Decker’s nomination would be taken up today. The delay could be attributed to a number of reasons, including scheduling issues.
There have been leaks to the media about NCUA exam reports and confidential internal concerns at Decker’s credit union. While this has spurred speculation about her nomination, the White House has been clear that they will continue to push Decker as the nominee. As of now, it is a game of “wait and see.”
Credit Unions Invited to Testify
In a rare twist of fate, credit unions were invited to offer input on legislation primarily impacting community banks. Bill Cheney, President and CEO of the Credit Union National Association (CUNA), had the opportunity to testify in front of the House Financial Services Committee Subcommittees on Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit, and Capital Markets and Government Sponsored Enterprises on HR1967, the Communities First Act. This legislation is aimed at regulatory relief for community banks but also contains many provisions which would apply to credit unions.
Most novel to the bank/credit union legislative debate of the past, where bank representatives are often invited to hearings on legislation that would impact credit unions, was the invitation and opportunity for credit unions to weigh in. Additional coverage of the hearing is available here; Cheney’s full testimony can be viewed here.
“We hope to continue to see an increased awareness on Capitol Hill of the very important role credit unions play in the financial industry and the strength of our members,” said Jaycee Winn, Director of Regulatory Advocacy for the Northwest Credit Union Association (NWCUA).
NWCUA Submits Comment Letters on Increased Lobbying Restrictions and Financial Access Programs
The NWCUA recently submitted two comment letters to federal agencies weighing in on one draft proposal and one open call for input.
The Office of Government Ethics (OGE) has proposed that, in making changes to current lobbying regulations, executive agency employees (as well as employees of independent federal agencies) no longer be allowed to attend “widely-attended gatherings” at no cost. The proposal clearly exempted certain groups, such as 501(c)(3) organizations, media organizations, institutions of higher learning, and “nonprofit professional associations, scientific organizations and learned societies engaging in educational or professional development activities” from this ban, allowing executive employees to attend events such as conferences and forums at no cost.
Glaringly absent from this list of exempted organizations are trade associations. The proposal addressed trade associations directly, in fact, claiming that trade associations are not for the purpose of education or professional development and should therefore be excluded.
The NWCUA, while not a lobbying organization itself, vehemently disagreed with this classification and called on the OGE to include trade associations among those exempted organizations—particularly based on the ideals that public/private partnerships are essential to ensuring good communication and regulation. The full letter is available here.
Additionally, the NWCUA took advantage of the opportunity presented by the Treasury’s Office of Financial Education and Financial Access (OFEFA) to offer comments on ways to improve access to—and utilization of—financial education tools, highlighting three areas:
- Utilizing the upcoming education reform debate to include financial education and to consider adding it to standard curriculum, citing the success of the current “Common Core Standards” effort, which has been voluntarily adopted in more than 45 states.
- Providing a resource to allow those seeking financial education, programs, or partnerships to easily identify opportunities and take advantage of them. With so many worthwhile programs already available regionally and nationwide, many go underutilized because they are difficult to find—unless you know where to look.
- Opening the door to allowing more states to participate in programs such as prize-linked savings. One mission of the OFEFA is to encourage the unbanked and under-banked to begin relationships with traditional financial institutions. The NWCUA has seen the popularity and effectiveness of state-based programs such as prize-linked savings and save-to-win as they have spread across the nation, opening a door to those who might not otherwise consider joining a credit union.
The NWCUA’s full letter is available here.
To review all current proposals on which the Association is seeking comment, please visit the NWCUA’s Regulatory Advocacy Comment Call page.
The NWCUA Regulatory Advocacy team works with state and federal regulators to help reduce the regulatory burden on credit unions and protect the credit union movement. The Association encourages members to participate in the regulatory process. If you have any questions on these or any regulatory issues, please contact Director of Regulatory Advocacy Jaycee Winn at firstname.lastname@example.org, or at 800.995.9064 x209.