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Flood Insurance
Senate Vote on Flood Insurance Expected Today
The Senate is expected to vote today on ICBA-advocated, bipartisan legislation to delay significant increases in flood insurance premiums, which began being phased in on Oct. 1. S. 1926, introduced by Sens. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), would delay rate increases for up to four years by giving the Federal Emergency Management Agency time to develop a plan to help property owners who cannot afford higher premiums.

Following yesterday’s debate on the legislation, a Senate vote on passage of S. 1926 is expected to begin at approximately 2 p.m. (Eastern time) today. ICBA continues calling on community bankers to urge their lawmakers to approve the legislation and reject any substitute bills.

Unless Congress acts, flood insurance rate increases under the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 would make flood insurance unaffordable for many policyholders who built to code and followed the law every step of the way. These increases would negatively affect home values and destabilize the still-recovering housing market in affected areas.

ICBA is working closely with Congress to stem these dramatic rate increases and develop a comprehensive solution, but continued grassroots outreach is essential to getting S. 1926 through the Senate. Contact Your Senators Today!

Farm Bill
ICBA Pleased House Passes New Farm Bill
ICBA said it is pleased that the U.S. House of Representatives approved a new farm bill, which passed on a 251-166 vote. The association is encouraging community bankers across the nation to call their senators and tell them to support the bill, which is titled the Agricultural Act of 2014 (H.R. 2642).

In a national news release, ICBA said the legislation will provide a long-term framework for agricultural and rural policies that will benefit rural America, farmers and ranchers, and the community banks that serve them.

In a previous release issued Tuesday, ICBA said providing a solid crop insurance program and enhanced USDA guaranteed loan programs will position farmers, ranchers and the community banks that serve them for success over the next five years.

With the Senate expected to take up the farm bill at any time, possibly even today, ICBA is urging community bankers to call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and tell their senators to vote for the farm bill.

President Calls for Patent Reform in State of the Union Address
President Barack Obama in his State of the Union address called on policymakers to pass patent-reform legislation. In his address before Congress on Tuesday night, Obama called for a patent-reform bill that allows businesses to “stay focused on innovation, not costly, needless litigation.”

In a fact sheet on the address, the White House said the nation’s patent system has experienced an explosion of abusive patent litigation designed to threaten companies based on questionable claims. The fact sheet said that in the coming weeks, Obama will announce progress on administration initiatives on patent reform.

ICBA continues working with Congress to advance measures that will protect community banks from patent-assertion entities, which assert infringement of business-method patents of dubious quality by legitimate businesses. In a statement for a recent Senate Judiciary Committee hearing and in a coalition letter to Senate Commerce Committee leaders, ICBA called for initiatives to address demand letters and indemnify end users.

ICBA is urging Congress to pursue legislation that would strengthen demand letter transparency by requiring PAEs to provide minimum disclosures to better identify themselves, the patent in question and the specific nature of the infringement they allege. The association also is urging Congress to amend current law to ensure that vendors that sell products or services to community banks provide the appropriate warranties and indemnification to protect the end users from patent-infringement claims.

ICBA will continue working with Congress and the administration on these and other initiatives to address problems with patent abuse.

ICBA NewsWatch Today is sponsored by Transamerica:
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Fed Again Cuts Asset Purchases by $10B Per Month
The Federal Open Market Committee voted to further reduce the size of its monthly asset purchases beginning Feb. 1. The FOMC announced that it will trim its monthly pace of acquiring agency mortgage-backed securities and longer-term Treasury securities by $5 billion each. The panel, which said that economic growth has picked up in recent quarters, reaffirmed its plans to keep the target range for the federal funds rate at historic lows.

Take This Week’s Quick Poll
Take this week’s Quick Poll on ICBA’s mobile apps, and view results from the previous poll on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Qualified Mortgage rules. View the Archive.

Community Bank IT Institute Slated for May
Information technology solutions continue to evolve, creating opportunities for community banks to increase efficiency, improve service capabilities and better safeguard customers. The Community Bank IT Institute, scheduled for May 12-16 in Kansas City, will better position IT managers and officers for managing their banks' IT environment and risks. Your ability to understand how these solutions can be applied to your bank’s current technology platform can mean all the difference in today’s highly competitive environment. Learn More and Register.

Products and Services
White Paper Covers Upgrading the OS, Discontinued Support for Windows XP
On April 8, Microsoft will end support for Windows XP, meaning community banks that still rely on this operating system will no longer receive monthly security patches, system updates or technical assistance. Community banks must upgrade or subscribe custom support agreements with Microsoft. In a new white paper, BLM Technology, an ICBA Preferred Service Provider, highlights potential problems maintaining XP and the benefits of upgrading. Read More.

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