Climate Bill in CA and Financial Access Bill in Congress

Lawmaker at table

Here’s this week’s recap of state and federal advocacy:

In CA: Climate Financial Risk Bill Not Moving Forward
The California State Assembly and Senate Appropriations Committees met to dispense with the committees’ suspense file, which is comprised of all bills having a price tag near or above $500,000.

Bills can either be held (dead), passed with or without amendments, or made into two-year bills — meaning they would not move forward this year.

The good news for credit unions: the Senate Appropriations Committee (chaired by Senator Anthony Portantino) turned Senate Bill 449 into a two-year bill! SB 449 would have required specified entities to submit a specific climate financial risk report annually and is one of three bills the California Credit Union League lobbied against during this year's Government Relations Rally (GRR).

“Once again, the hard work put in during our annual lobby day paid off in a big way,” said Robert Wilson, vice president of state government affairs for the League. “Thank you to all who attended and for your continued interest and support of advocacy.”

Congress: NCUA Hearing Brings CU Bills into Focus
This week, the House Financial Services Committee held its semi-annual hearing with U.S. banking regulators, including National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) Board Chairman Todd Harper.

As the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues announced late last Friday, we have been working with the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) and the committee chair (Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Los Angeles) on a new bill to add underserved communities to the fields of membership for federally chartered credit unions. The bill (the Expanding Financial Access for Underserved Communities Act) would also remove the member business lending cap in these communities.

As the committee released the draft ahead of this past week’s hearing, it was clearly on the mind of Chairwoman Waters. Not only did she utilize her designated five minutes of questions to highlighting the issue, she directed the series of questions to Chairman Harper, who agreed by stating “NCUA has long called on Congress to increase field of membership to underserved communities, not just for multiple common-bond credit unions, but also for single-bond and community charters to provide service to those areas.”

Other members of the committee, including Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Sherman Oaks), agreed with the concept.

The hearing was not solely focused on the new bill, which is still to be formally introduced. Credit union leaders should stay tuned.

Some highlights for credit unions include:

  • Little attention was paid to Chairman Harper’s proposal on third-party vendor authority.
  • A lot of attention was paid to the “True Lender Rule,” which Congress is close to overturning.
  • Only one question regarding credit union’s purchase of bank assets was raised and directed to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC), not to the NCUA.
  • How to address examining safety and soundness as it applies to climate change purposes remains in question.
  • Credit union pandemic response messages were well received.

A web link to the hearing, which includes Chairman Harper’s written testimony and the draft text of the bills, can be found here.

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