|Positive News for CUs: Garnishment Notice Response Bill Clears State House
The bill now moves forward to the Senate for consideration, and if passed would benefit credit unions and other businesses. This legislation seeks to allow organizations to answer garnishment notices without going through an attorney. With perfect timing, HB 683 was on the House floor on the same day as the Grassroots Academy (see below related article), providing the ideal opportunity for credit union advocates to reach out to their state representatives to thank them for their quick passage of the bill, and ask their state senators for their support of the legislation. The Government Influence Team continues to speak with legislators on HB 683 as it would have a direct positive impact for all credit unions.
On January 24th, the largest Grassroots Academy to date was held when more than 60 credit union advocates convened across from the Gold Dome to enhance their knowledge of Georgia’s legislative process and leaders, and the issues facing credit unions. Participants learned about the inner workings of the Senate and how to shape legislation successfully from Secretary of the Senate Bob Ewing, saw what it takes to run a successful campaign and how credit unions can play a part from political strategist Chip Lake, gleaned what the Department of Banking and Finance is seeking in legislative changes this session from Commissioner Rob Braswell, got personal insight from Vice Chairman of the Banking Committee Michael Harden (R-Toccoa), and learned firsthand how other credit unions are holistically engaged in grassroots activities. Credit union advocates closed out the packed day with visits to their state senators’ and state representatives’ offices to urge their support of the Garnishment Notice Response Bill (HB 683) and the Foreclosed Property Registry Bill (HB 110).
Want to learn more about the bills that are being considered by the state that could impact your credit union and the members you serve? The credit union legislative tracking system outlines all of the bills that are being monitored on behalf of credit unions. For up-to-the-minute movement of key issues, please follow us on Twitter @GCUAGov!
|State Legislature Continues at Full Force
The state Legislature returned the week of January 23rd after being on recess the previous week for budget hearings, and has resumed with the atypical fast pace from the first week. Activity of credit union interest was prominent with the passage of the Garnishment Notice Response Bill HB 683 in the House (see above related article), as well as several other bills of industry note:
|CUNA Representative to Testify on Exam Relief Bill
On February 1st, Ken Watts, CEO of the West Virginia Credit Union League, will testify on behalf of CUNA during a hearing before the U.S. House Financial Institution and Consumer Credit Subcommittee on H.R. 3461, the Financial Institution Examination Fairness and Reform Act. This legislation, introduced November 17, 2011 by House Financial Institution and Consumer Credit Subcommittee Chairman Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) and Ranking Member Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), seeks to:
Although no single piece of legislation could deal with the wide range of concerns credit union executives have about the current supervisory environment, this bill takes a major step toward a more balanced and transparent approach regarding how, and on what basis, decisions are made by the regulatory agencies in the examination process. The legislation has 81 co-sponsors in the House, including Reps. David Scott (D-13) and Lynn Westmoreland (R-3) from Georgia. No companion bill has been introduced in the Senate.
|State of the Union Address
On Tuesday, January 24th, President Barack Obama addressed Congress and the nation in his third State of the Union address. Of note to credit unions was the mention of fresh investigations into the mortgage crisis. The President said he would direct the Justice Department to launch a special unit of state attorneys general and federal prosecutors to investigate the packaging of risky mortgages into securities that were bundled and sold by Wall Street. President Obama also asked Congress to provide funding to people who have kept up their mortgage payments so that they can refinance at lower interest rates, funded by fees levied on banks. Please click here for The Wall Street Journal's overview of the address, and here for The Washington Post’s overview.
|CFPB to Establish CU Council to Gauge Regulatory Impact
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) will establish an advisory council for credit unions to help the agency gauge how its actions are impacting the credit union industry, CFPB Director Richard Cordray said during the January 24th House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee hearing.
Cordray noted that he created similar advisory councils for credit unions and community banks during his time as Treasurer of Ohio, and said those advisory groups improved his agency's work. He noted that credit union interests are "often aligned with those of consumers," and said that this type of business model, which emphasizes helping consumers, is the type of business model that the CFPB wants to encourage in the larger financial marketplace. In his testimony he added that the agency would bring NCUA and other financial agencies in to meet with the CFPB in the coming year to coordinate supervisory schedules, guidance, and regulations, and discuss areas where their jurisdiction can overlap or where duplication can be minimized.
Cordray said his agency aims "to make consumer financial markets operate fairly in order to protect consumers, support honest businesses, and play a crucial role in helping to safeguard the overall economy" under his leadership. Leveling the playing field is important for credit unions and community banks, and for making the financial system itself work, Cordray added. Overall, Cordray said the CFPB's intention is to "be mindful" of the differences between larger institutions and smaller institutions.
|GA CU Friend Bierecki Named to European Council
Georgia credit union loyalists will be happy to know that Grzegorz Bierecki, president/CEO of Poland's credit union trade association, the National Association of Cooperative Savings & Credit Unions (NACSCU), and a World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) member, was named to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE). The council is Europe's oldest international parliamentary group and precursor to the European Union. As one of the council's two statutory organs, PACE investigates, recommends and advises European policy development.
Bierecki was a former staff member of Lech Wałęsa's Solidarity party, which helped reestablish Poland's credit union movement in partnership with WOCCU in 1989 and has had an active partnership with the credit union movement here in Georgia. Through Bierecki’s leadership and the sharing of information between the Georgia credit union leaders and Poland’s credit union system, the Polish movement has since grown to one of the world's most successful systems. Poland's 59 credit unions, operating under a unified marketing brand from a central back-office platform, support 1,852 branches and serve 2.2 million members nationwide. To help celebrate the 20th anniversary of Poland's credit unions, the World Council will hold its 2012 World Credit Union Conference, July 15-18, in Gdańsk, Poland.
|Deceptive Foreclosure Practice Settlement Reached
It was reported on January 23rd that the nation's five largest mortgage lenders have agreed to overhaul their industry after deceptive foreclosure practices drove homeowners out of their homes, according to government officials. Five major banks – Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citibank and Ally Financial – and U.S. state attorneys general could adopt the agreement within weeks, according to two officials briefed on the discussions.
What does this mean for consumers? Those who lost their homes to foreclosure are unlikely to get their homes back or benefit much financially from the settlement, which could be as high as $25 billion. About 750,000 Americans, which is about half of the households who might be eligible for assistance under the deal, will likely receive checks for about $1,800. What does this mean for credit unions? While this is a settlement regarding the above banks, their agreement could reshape longstanding mortgage lending guidelines and make it easier for those at risk of foreclosure to restructure their loans. Estimates believe that roughly one million homeowners could see the size of their mortgages reduced.
|Georgia with 12 of Nation's Top 100 Hardest-hit Foreclosure Neighborhoods
The housing collapse has dramatically changed the nation's foreclosure landscape. Neighborhoods boasting modern homes, cul-de-sacs and tree-lined streets in Western cities now dominate the list of the top 100 U.S. Zip codes hit hardest by foreclosures, and claim all of the top 10 spots, according to data generated for CNNMoney by RealtyTrac. In 2011, Western states claimed 82 of the 100 worst-hit Zip codes, with 38 in California and another 28 in Nevada. In our region: The South claimed the second highest number of hardest hit Zips with 14. Georgia claimed 12 of those neighborhoods alone, including one in Atlanta that took 10th place. An interesting point from the data is that not a single Northeastern Zip code made RealtyTrac's top 100 list.
|GCUA Annual Convention: Helping People Afford Life
For decades credit unions have been helping people afford life at every stage – from getting married and having kids, to buying a home or car, and even financing college. Helping People Afford Life is what the 2012 GCUA Annual Convention is all about. Plan to attend one of the year’s most outstanding events, May 9-12 at the Savannah International Trade and Convention Center in beautiful Savannah.
Networking, education and industry insight. That's just the tip of the iceberg of what you can expect at the GCUA Annual Convention. Join your peers and discover new ways credit unions are providing affordable financial services to consumers. Network and brainstorm with other credit union professionals, and learn about the latest products and services in the marketplace to help people afford life.
There’s something for everyone at your credit union – professionals, volunteers and staff – including:
Registration and room reservations open on February 1st, so look for more details coming soon.
|Odd Defense for Bank Robbery
On January 24th the Atlanta Business Chronicle reported that a Georgia lawyer for a man accused of robbing an Augusta branch of Bank of America says his client was a victim of “involuntary intoxication” at the time due to the Paxil antidepressant he was taking. Assistant District Attorney Hank Syms isn’t buying lawyer Peter Johnson’s claims, and “waved away any claim” of such intoxication when the robbery occurred in July 2010. Syms said about one-third of clients who make guilty pleas say they are affected by some form of medication, but added he’s never heard the Paxil defense because most lawyers know better than to claim it. “What we have with this charade about ‘Paxil made him do it’ is the opposite of taking responsibility,” Syms said.