Senate, House Bills Would Delay Fed Interchange Plan

U.S. CapitolTwo Interchange bills that seek to delay the Federal Reserve’s interchange plan have been introduced: the Debit Interchange Fee Study Act (S. 575) and the Consumers Payment System Protection Act (H.R. 1081). Both bills delay implementation of the interchange provisions on debit card transactions and propose the need for a study of the impact of the proposed rule.

The Senate bill (S. 575), introduced by Sen. Jon Tester (R-Mont.), would establish a two-year delay for the Federal Reserve's proposal to implement the Dodd-Frank interchange provisions, which limit debit card interchange fees. It would require the Fed, NCUA, FDIC, and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency to submit a study on the impact of any proposed interchange rule changes to the Senate Banking Committee and the House Financial Services Committee. The study would address the impact of the rules on credit unions and other debit card issuers, merchants and consumers.

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Washington, D.C. News

Senate, House Bills Would Delay Fed Interchange Plan
Keeping Up the Heat on MBL Cap Lift
CFPB Leadership Focus of Hearing and New Bill
Rep. Hensarling Introduces GSE Reform Legislation
Tax Plan Aims for 25% Cap

State News

State Legislature Closing the Gap on the Remaining Days
Tax Council Work Done - But Only for This Session
Growing Relationships for Credit Unions
Redistricting Right Around the Corner

Industry News

NCUA Threatens to Sue Investment Banks
Project Zip Code up to 1.7 Million!
20 Innovations for CUs Released by Filene i3

Public Influence

WSJ Editorial Bashes Interchange Rule
Banks Battle Against Lower Swipe Fee Rules
Savannah Credit Unions Grow in 2010
Georgia Ranks Fifth in Donations to Kids' Hospitals
Statewide News Coverage
CUs in the News
Consider This
Paying Attention

News of the Competition

United Community Banks to Raise $380M in Capital, Sell Off $435M in Assets
U.S. Libor Probe Includes BOA, Citi and UBS

 
March 25, 2011
 
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Washington, D.C. News
 
Senate, House Bills Would Delay Fed Interchange Plan

Two Interchange bills that seek to delay the Federal Reserve’s interchange plan have been introduced: the Debit Interchange Fee Study Act (S. 575) and the Consumers Payment System Protection Act (H.R. 1081). Both bills delay implementation of the interchange provisions on debit card transactions and propose the need for a study of the impact of the proposed rule.

The Senate bill (S. 575), introduced by Sen. Jon Tester (R-Mont.), would establish a two-year delay for the Federal Reserve's proposal to implement the Dodd-Frank interchange provisions, which limit debit card interchange fees. It would require the Fed, NCUA, FDIC, and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency to submit a study on the impact of any proposed interchange rule changes to the Senate Banking Committee and the House Financial Services Committee. The study would address the impact of the rules on credit unions and other debit card issuers, merchants and consumers.

The House bill (H.R. 1081), introduced by Rep. Shelly Moore Capito (R-W.V.), would delay the interchange rule effective date for one year, and would also direct federal agencies to study the impact that interchange changes would have on credit unions and other card issuers, consumers and merchants. The bill would require the Fed to write new interchange regulations within four months if the study were to find that the proposed exemption for financial institutions with under $10 billion in assets would not be effective. The regulations would also need to be rewritten if the study found that the Fed's proposal did not encompass all debit card-related costs or would harm consumers. In addition to Moore Capito, House sponsors of the delay include several legislators, with two from Georgia: Rep. David Scott and Rep. Hank Johnson.

The interchange provisions, which under Dodd-Frank are scheduled to be made final in April and effective in late July, could lower the amount of transaction fees charged to seven cents per card swipe. Credit Unions and our national association CUNA have repeatedly suggested that the Fed should work with Congress to delay interchange regulation implementation to allow more time for consideration of how the interchange regulations would impact credit unions, as well as consumers.
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Keeping Up the Heat on MBL Cap Lift

Keeping up the heat on lifting the MBL cap, Sen. Mark Udall (D) pushed to attach MBL language to a small business bill (S. 493). On March 16th, the senator from Colorado proposed to file the text of his S. 509 MBL bill as an amendment to S. 493, the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Reauthorization Act of 2011. While the MBL language was not approved to be added the existing legislation it was another signal of his serious intent to increase the MBL cap to 27.5 percent of a credit union's total assets, up from the current 12.25 percent.

Action AlertUdall's S. 509, known as the Small Business Lending Enhancement Act, could, according to an updated CUNA study, provide up to $13 billion to small businesses in the first year alone and create more than  140,000 new jobs. These economic benefits come at no cost to taxpayers. More than 1,000 Georgia credit union advocates have taken action on promoting the Small Business Lending Enhancement Act by writing to the two Georgia U.S. Senators, Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson, asking for their support, but more are needed. To send a letter, please click here.

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CFPB Leadership Focus of Hearing and New Bill

The single Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) director proposed by the Dodd-Frank Act would be replaced by a five-member, bipartisan panel if the "Responsible Consumer Financial Protection Regulations Act," which was introduced by House Financial Services Committee Chairman Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.) on March 16th, becomes law. Bachus released the bill shortly after a March 16th House Financial Services Committee hearing on CFPB oversight. That hearing featured testimony from CFPB architect Elizabeth Warren.

Warren defended the bureau during the hearing, saying that the country "would not be in the mess we are today" if the CFPB had existed six to eight years ago. "The consumer bureau's mission is straightforward – make prices clear, make risks clear, so consumers can compare one product to two or three others," Warren said. She also repeated what she told credit union representatives earlier this month during the GAC – that one of the CFPB's first missions would be to combine current mortgage disclosure requirements into a single-page document that is easier for mortgage providers and holders to understand. At the hearing, Warren said that the CFPB would work with credit unions and other small institutions as it pursues this and other rulemaking priorities, and added that the agency would protect credit unions and community banks as it develops and revamps regulations.

On the legislative front, Bachus in a release said that the bill would "ensure that a non-partisan, balanced approach to consumer protection prevails" at the CFPB. "Empanelling a five-member commission is an important first step in ending predatory financial practices without inappropriately limiting access to credit that small businesses and individuals want and need. We can achieve consumer protection without a credit czar," he added. He noted that several other regulators, including the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., and the Federal Trade Commission, have similar leadership structure, and that structure has worked well for those regulatory groups.

A five-member CFPB panel was considered by the House last year, but that concept was dropped when the Dodd-Frank legislation went to a Senate conference committee prior to passage. The CFPB will take over a number of regulatory roles from the Federal Reserve and other agencies on July 21. NCUA will remain independent and credit unions holding under $10 billion in assets will not be examined by the CFPB, and NCUA will have a seat on a pending regulatory council.

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Rep. Hensarling Introduces GSE Reform Legislation

House Financial Services Committee member Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) introduced a bill (H.R. 1182) on March 17th that would end the conservatorships of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in two years and implement several changes intended to reform the two government-sponsored enterprises.

Those changes would, among other things, repeal the GSEs' affordable housing goals mandate and the Affordable Housing Trust Fund; cap their maximum portfolio size at $700 billion and reduce that cap to $250 billion over five years, and return the conforming loan limit to $417,000. The bill also would direct the Federal Housing Finance Agency to evaluate Fannie and Freddie at the end of the conservatorships to determine their viability. If they were found viable, they could continue operations for up to three years under new rules. If they weren't found viable, they would be placed into receivership.

Those rules would increase the FHFA's authority to adjust their minimum capital requirements; repeal their state and local tax exemption, and repeal the GSE securities' exemption from full Securities and Exchange Commission registration. At the end of the three-year period, Fannie and Freddie's charters would expire and they would become private companies. House Financial Services Committee Panel Chairman Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.) is an original co-sponsor of H.R. 1182. Click here to read more on the legislation.

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Taxes

Tax Plan Aims for 25% Cap

In a March 17th article in The Wall Street Journal, it was reported that the Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee Rep. Dave Camp has a proposal to cut the top U.S. tax rate to 25 percent for individuals and corporations, and cut or eliminate many popular deductions. However, the odds of quick action are slim, but the proposal is viewed as a marker in what will likely be a multi-year debate over revamping the tax code. And, this issue will be monitored closely by credit unions. To read more please click here.

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State News
 

State Legislature Closing the Gap on the Remaining Days

The state Legislature has set its 40th day for April 14th, and the finish line is in sight with only seven more days of the session remaining. Legislators and various industries are working to maneuver (or halt) bills in these final days, and is a time of multiple hearings and high tensions as anything can make or break an active bill’s chance to become law. For credit unions, the three session days this week were packed with activity:

  • The Property Registry Bill HB 110 by Rep. Mike Jacobs was heard in the Senate Banking and Financial Institutions Committee on Tuesday, March 22nd. While it has been assigned to subcommittee to allow more time for testimony, the committee is to take action on the bill (most likely) by Wednesday the 30th. There are multiple lobbying interests for the cities and counties that have been working to stall the bill. The Government Influence Team continues to work to move this legislation forward as it would set uniform standards and would provide an exemption for financial institutions.
  • The Department of Banking and Finance’s Housekeeping Bill HB 239 passed out of the Senate Banking and Financial Institutions Committee on Tuesday, March 22nd with no changes, and the bill should be considered for a vote on the Senate floor in the remaining days of the session.
  • HB 323 by Rep. Michael Harden passed out of the Senate Banking and Financial Institutions Committee on March 22nd with no changes as well. Readers will recall that this bill would expand the period of time in which a motor vehicle security interest is perfected from 20 to 30 days.
  • The Attorney General’s Robo-Signing Forclosure Bill HB 237 by Rep. Rich Golick was passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee on March 22nd. This legislation would provide the AG’s office with subpoena powers over foreclosure documents, and retains the safe harbor provision for innocent mistakes.
  • Insurance Certificate Bill HB 66 by Rep. Howard Maxwell passed the Senate Insurance and Labor Committee on March 23rd. This bill would set in statute the January 10th directive by the Insurance Commissioner on creating/approving forms that can be used to provide evidence of an insurance policy. This legislation was modified EARLY in the process by the Government Influence Team to ensure that financial institutions are notified in the event of a lapse in coverage.

To view all the bills that are monitored on behalf of credit unions, please click here for the legislative tracking system. Next week the Legislature will be in session for five days, which will be at an even more chaotic pace for legislators and lobbyists alike. Stay tuned.

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Tax Council Work Done - But Only for This Session

The special tax study commission authorized by the Georgia legislature during the 2010 session completed its recommendations to the Joint Senate and House Tax Committee and many have been waiting to see what elements of those recommendations would be included in proposed legislation. As the end of the session nears, the joint committee is working on the legislation that will be considered. On Thursday, March 24, 2011, the Joint Tax Committee held a meeting to announce the plans for the legislative proposal. While the tax study commission made a number of far reaching recommendations, the Joint Committee has narrowed its focus and will include the following in legislation to be finalized on Monday, March 28, 2011:

  • No sales tax on groceries
  • Ending the tax on energy used in manufacturing
  • Reducing the personal income tax from the current 6% to 4.5%
  • Adding the state sales tax to auto repairs
  • Adding the state sales tax to cable and satellite TV and Communication services
  • Adding the state sales tax to casual sales of automobiles

While the Joint Committee decided against the widespread review of all tax exemptions and tax credits as was recommended by the tax commission (good news for credit unions), it has been decided to keep the tax commission active during the upcoming months to systematically study all exemptions and credits with the possibility of developing additional recommendations to be considered by the legislature next year. The advocacy team will continue to monitor the work of the commission throughout the summer and fall. Watch for more updates on this topic in coming months.

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Harden
State Rep.
Michael Harden
Growing Relationships for Credit Unions

Credit union advocates were out in force at the Georgia Republican Party’s annual Presidents’ Day Dinner. Always a prime opportunity to meet with scores of state and federal legislators, it provides an opportunity to push for legislation in some instances, but more importantly the evening provides a chance for the credit union industry to grow relationships with the various elected leaders. Joining the credit union table to learn more about our industry was Rep. Michael Harden, Vice Chairman of the House Banks and Banking Committee. Our thanks go out to Greg Connor of Associated CU, Chuck Head of Atlanta Postal CU and Denise Swan of GEMC FCU for attending the event and sharing the credit union message.

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Redistricting Right Around the Corner

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported on March 18th that the release of Georgia’s 2010 census data marks the start of an exclusive, high-stakes treasure hunt in Atlanta’s northern suburbs. The hunters are Republican politicians who harbor congressional ambitions; the prize is a new congressional district the Legislature will create based on the population numbers – one that is almost guaranteed to have “GOP” written all over it. That means aspiring congressmen will try their best to have the new district drawn in their back yard. "It's going to attract a lot of interest," said state Rep. Roger Lane, R-Darien, chairman of the House committee responsible for drawing new maps. Every 10 years, the districts of all 435 U.S. House members, thousands of state legislators throughout the nation and innumerable county and city officials are redrawn according to which areas have gained population and which have lost it. This summer, legislators will meet in special session to redraw Georgia’s congressional and legislative lines.

RedistrictingStrong growth in north Cobb, Gwinnett, Cherokee, Forsyth and other counties north of Atlanta means those areas will gain not only a congressional seat, but as many as five or six new seats in the General Assembly. Conversely, vast swaths of southern Georgia, which have slowed or even lost population in some instances, will lose legislative seats. For the first time in Georgia’s modern political history, Republicans hold virtually all the redistricting cards. They dominate both houses of the Legislature and hold the governor’s office and the attorney general’s office. As the map-making gets under way, only two things stand between the GOP and further dramatic gains:

  • The U.S. Justice Department (currently run by Democrats), which, because of Georgia’s history of racial discrimination, must approve its redistricting maps;
  • The increasing diversity of many areas just beyond the metro Atlanta core, which hold out the possibility that a few of the newly configured legislative districts will be winnable by Democrats.

When push comes to shove under the Gold Dome, though, Republicans can adopt maps as GOP-friendly as they think they can get away with under the Federal Voting Rights Act. On the other hand, Lane said, his goal is to draw districts that will withstand legal challenges – unlike the ones drawn by the Democrat-controlled Legislature in 2001. Those were supplanted by court-drawn maps in 2004 after they were found to fail constitutional standards of fairness.

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Industry News
 

NCUA Threatens to Sue Investment Banks

The March 23rd front page of The Wall Street Journal reported that NCUA has threatened to sue several investment banks unless they refund more than $50 billion of mortgage-backed securities sold to five corporate credit unions. The NCUA is accusing Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Bank of America Corp.'s Merrill Lynch unit, Citigroup Inc. and J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. of misrepresenting the risks of the bonds to wholesale credit unions, which loaded up on the bonds in their role of investing on behalf of retail credit unions, according to people familiar with the situation. To read more please click on the link above.

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Project Zip CodeProject Zip Code Up to 1.7 Million!

More than 95 Georgia credit unions have uploaded the new version of Project Zip Code, matching 1.7 million credit union members with their elected officials at the state and federal level.

Are your members being counted?

The new version of Project Zip Code has been updated to take into account new districts and new elected officials, and is critical as we reach out to those on key committees for credit unions. No CD is required – you can simply download the new version here.

Still too overwhelming? Contact a member of the GCUA Advocacy Team to learn how it can be done on your behalf!

Make sure every credit union voice is heard. Match your members with your elected official through Project Zip Code today!

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20 Innovations for CUs Released by Filene i3

The Filene Research Institute has released Key Findings: Blueprints for Innovation, a report on the latest findings from its i³ – Ideas, Innovation and Implementation – group. The report, by Chief Innovation Officer Denise Gabel, features 15 new idea blueprints designed to fuel credit union growth and five updates on innovations gaining national attention. Blueprints for Innovation includes a detailed examination of Lift, a project that received a grant from the Center for Financial Services Innovation's Financial Capability Innovation Fund. Blueprints for Innovation includes Filene i³ team projects developed to help credit union members build wealth, navigate financial waters, meet life's milestones, make community connections and borrow responsibly. They include:

  • Savings Exchange: Empowers low-income individuals with financial literacy and ongoing support while providing small businesses with a low-cost financial service alternative;
  • R-Bond: Removes roadblocks to retirement savings for small businesses;
  • 2 Grand Plan: Creates a $2,000 emergency savings fund;
  • The Signal: Helps members navigate the financial road of disability benefits;
  • The Big Payoff Loan: Eliminates credit card debt with segmented loans from credit unions;
  • Goalmine: Simplified way to save and invest for college and other life goals;
  • UMatter: A referral-based exclusive membership for Gen X;
  • Black Star: Fosters a cooperative environment in the food and drink industries;
  • VolunTIER: Rewards community volunteers for their commitment and connections through credit unions;
  • CU Launch: Provides professional services to small businesses through credit union volunteers;
  • Co-Opera: Makes co-op to co-op lending and borrowing more accessible for all cooperatives;
  • MI-COOP: Helps Americans achieve the dream of owning their own manufactured home;
  • 60-Day Loan Guarantee: Builds trust in credit unions by allowing members to return a loan in 60 days;
  • Be N' Biz: Connects Gen Y entrepreneurs with credit unions for business creation; and
  • Lift: Lowers interest and improves credit for members who make payments on time.

Blueprints for Innovation also updates five ideas that are ready to implement and gaining national traction:

  • Debt in Focus: An anonymous, debt management tool for credit union members that delivers an actionable plan to help improve their credit profiles and reduce debt;
  • Prize-linked Savings: An approach to saving for participants to enter prize drawings every time they deposit money into their savings account;
  • Savings Revolution: A program that allows people to overhaul their financial lifestyles to save money and reduce debt with strategies supported by social media with credit union collaboration;
  • The Leap: An interactive website that helps members jump into the green revolution by highlighting how to save money and the environment with E-products that are already in place at most credit unions; and
  • Virtual Finance: A program that allows participants to select and customize an avatar and interact with others in a world that beckons them to experience financial decisions, and introduces critical financial and life concepts over a simulated lifetime.
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Public Influence
 

WSJ Editorial Bashes Interchange Rule

A March 17th editorial featured in The Wall Street Journal had biting words for the Dodd-Frank Act provisions instructing the Federal Reserve to "fix prices on debit cards," and for the lawmakers who supported the price-fixing. The editorial explains that Dodd-Frank ordered the Fed to "fix prices" on what card issuers may charge merchants "each time they swipe a transaction" with a customer's debit card. "Under the new Fed rule, which will take effect in April unless Congress acts to stop it, that fee will be capped at 12 cents per transaction, reducing the charges by some $12 billion to $14 billion and in effect transferring the cost of debit cards from the merchants who pay the fees to the consumers who use them," the editorial said.

Wall Street Journal mastheadIt also took aim at merchants' claims that they would pass savings from the lower debit charge interchange fees on to consumers as lower prices on merchandise. "While that is doubtful, the loss of that revenue will force debit card issuers to raise fees elsewhere to compensate," the editorial charged. Just look at the 2009 credit card reforms, which are driving free checking to extinction and you can extrapolate what will happen with debit cards, it said. While acknowledging that the "Durbin amendment," so called because it was drafted by Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), included an exemption for small issuers with $10 billion of less in assets, The Wall Street Journal said it was meaningless: "Few small (issuers) will be able to compete in a marketplace blanketed with the artificially lowered fees of larger institutions.”

The editorial also gave the amendment's congressional supporters a hard poke, including the two from Georgia: U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss and U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson. "Amended to Dodd-Frank at the last moment, the Durbin gambit avoided the scrutiny of hearings and passed the Senate 64-33." The bi-partisan nature of the vote, with 17 Republicans included, "proves that ignorance is bipartisan.”

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Banks Battle Against Lower Swipe Fee Rules

The Atlanta Business Chronicle reported on March 11th that while banks and credit unions are usually enemies, they are agreeing completely on an issue that’s raging at the U.S. Capitol: They really hate a proposal to lower swipe fees. Terry Hardy, CEO of MembersFirst Credit Union in Decatur, shared that debit card issuers have all the responsibility and liability for fraud and those costs are not figured into the Federal Reserve’s proposal.

The proposal would reduce the fees banks receive to 12 cents per transaction from the current average of 44 cents per transaction. That would result in an eventual 70 percent yearly decline, or $168,000, in fee income at MembersFirst Credit Union.

“For a credit union of our size, it is significant,” said Hardy, whose credit union has about $75 million in assets. “That’s the reason we’re so up in arms about it.”

The article went on to explain a community banker’s perspective that debit cards provide efficiencies and benefits for retailers – such as decreasing cash transactions, and the costs of fraud associated with cash.

The Federal Reserve Board, which will implement the new rule, has an April deadline to finalize details on the fee reduction. The rule will go into effect in July. Meanwhile, the banking and retailing industries have flooded the U.S. Capitol with lobbyists to press their side of the issue. Banks and credit unions want Congress to either delay or remove the new rules for swipe fees.

“We’ve been asking Congress to slow down the implementation time frame, and provide time for hearings and study, and then re-approach things in a more intelligent way,” said Mike Mercer, CEO of Georgia Credit Union Affiliates.

Retailers are urging lawmakers to stay the course. The swipe fees cut into retailers’ profits, hurting their efforts to add jobs, according to the Merchants Payments Coalition, a retail group.

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Savannah Credit Unions Grow in 2010

The mattress more and more Savanniahans are stashing their money under is a credit union, according to an article in the Savannah Morning News. The article cites growth of nearly 20 percent by the area’s four largest non-occupational credit unions. The main reason for the growth is consumer uncertainty about the economy and the appeal of credit unions’ member-owned structure.

The article mentions that credit unions have increased in popularity enough that many are taking steps to limit growth. The result is credit unions cutting their dividend rates to slow the in-migration of new members. Click here to read the article.

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Number 5Georgia Ranks Fifth in Donations to Kids' Hospitals

Credit Unions for Kids announced recently that it raised $8.7 million for Children's Miracle Network Hospitals in 2010. That marks a 5 percent increase over fundraising in 2009, and positions credit unions as a top three contributor to the charity.

Credit Unions for Kids is a collaborative effort in the credit union community that raises money for children's hospitals. Since 1996, the program has raised more than $80 million for Children's Miracle Network Hospitals throughout the U.S.

In 2010, Georgia was No. 5 in statewide fundraising, generating nearly $500,000 in contributions. The top five states and the amount raised by credit unions include:

1. Texas, $1,367,597;

2. California, $1,003,530;

3. Oregon, $924,972;

4. Arizona, $479,674; and

5. Georgia, $479,235.

Atlanta, Ga. was fourth among the top individual markets, raising $396,934. The top five individual markets include:

1. Portland, $726,395;

2. Phoenix, $432,824;

3. Austin, Texas, $417,411;

4. Atlanta, $396,934; and

5. Los Angeles, $365,641.

"2010 was a remarkable year for our credit union partners," said John Lauck, president/CEO of Children's Miracle Network Hospitals. "Their performance speaks volumes about the character of those in the movement. Given the unprecedented challenges facing the industry, credit unions could have cut back on their fundraising, but instead they grew the program and in turn helped our hospitals impact the lives of more kids and their families."

In 2011, credit unions will have three new national campaigns from which to support their local Children's Miracle Network Hospital. The Change a Child's Life coin collection campaign, which kicked off March 1 and concludes April 30, is still accepting orders for free kits to help facilitate fundraising efforts. Use the link for more information.

The other two campaigns include Miracle Jeans Day, August 1 - September 14, and the Holiday icon program, November 1 - December 31.

For more information, contact either Joe Dearborn, senior director for Children's Miracle Network Hospitals at jdearborn@cmnhospitals.org or Felicity Guerin, Credit Unions for Kids liaison at fguerin@cuna.coop.

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Statewide News Coverage

Get the latest in statewide news coverage, click here.

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CUs in the News

Moonlighting becomes more common
Augusta Chronicle

Get the latest in local CU coverage, click here.

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Consider This

End of Free Checking?
Athens Banner-Herald

View archives of this monthly e-news brief sent to journalists, click here.

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Paying Attention

View the quarterly report and poll of Georgia credit union members and CU trends, click here.

 
News of the Competition
 

United Community Banks to Raise $380M in Capital, Sell Off $435M in Assets

The Atlanta Business Chronicle reported on March 16th that United Community Banks, based in Blairsville, plans to raise $380 million in capital and sell off $435 million in classified assets to strengthen the bank’s position. To read more please click here.

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Bank of AmericaU.S. Libor Probe Includes BoA, Citi and UBS

The Wall Street Journal reported on March 18th that regulators have focused on Bank of America Corp., Citigroup Inc. and UBS AG, which are part of a group of 16 banks that reported dollar borrowing costs used to calculate Libor, between 2006 and 2008 – a period that has drawn the focus of the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Justice Department. The dollar Libor panel was expanded to 20 banks in February. Investigators are examining whether some banks deliberately tried to skew Libor by deliberately submitting inaccurate data, according to government and industry officials. Authorities are examining whether banks whose funding costs were rising as the financial crisis intensified tried to mask that trend by submitting artificially low readings of their daily borrowing costs. To read more please click here.

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