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Flood Insurance
ICBA Pleased with Strong Senate Vote on Flood Insurance
ICBA said it is pleased the Senate passed bipartisan legislation to protect homeowners from 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 steep 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.

Unless the law changes, sharp flood insurance rate hikes under the Biggert-Waters Act 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 worked closely with the Senate and looks forward to working closely with the House to mitigate these dramatic rate increases and implement a comprehensive fix. Community bankers nationwide continue urging their lawmakers to act promptly to resolve this issue. Read ICBA Release.

Social Media
ICBA Financial Literacy Twitter Chat Today
ICBA is hosting a Twitter chat at 2 p.m. (Eastern time) today to focus on best practices to help consumers accomplish their personal finance resolutions. ICBA encourages community bankers to join the public social media forum and tweet their financial literacy advice as relationship bankers.

To participate, follow the #NewYearFinLit hashtag. More information is on ICBA’s Twitter Chat webpage and in the association’s Twitter Chats 101 and Tweeting for Community Bankers resources.

Farm Bill
Senate Taking Up Farm Bill Monday
The Senate is scheduled to hold a procedural vote Monday on the farm bill, the Agricultural Act of 2014 (H.R. 2642). If the Senate votes to limit debate on the bill, a final Senate vote on the bill is expected as soon as Tuesday.

ICBA this week said it is pleased the House approved the legislation, which passed on a 251-166 vote. The association is encouraging community bankers across the nation to call their senators at (202) 224-3121 and tell them to support the bill.

ICBA Strongly Opposing Proposal to Allow Postal Service to Offer Financial Services
ICBA is meeting with members of Congress to strongly oppose a proposal to allow the U.S. Postal Service to offer financial services.

The agency’s Office of the Inspector General this week released a report recommending that the Postal Service partner with banks to offer financial services such as prepaid debit cards, small-dollar loans and remittance services to under-banked households. Under the proposal, consumers could load cash or their paychecks onto a Postal Service–branded reloadable prepaid card that could be covered by the FDIC deposit insurance of a partner bank.

The Office of the Inspector General said the plan may appeal to under-banked consumers and could lead to approximately $8.9 billion in annual revenues for the Postal Service. The report said the IG is not suggesting that the Postal Service become a bank or compete with banks.

ICBA strongly opposes the plan to establish the struggling government agency in the financial services sector in an attempt to raise revenue. ICBA President and CEO Cam Fine told American Banker that involving the Postal Service in financial services is a recipe for disaster.

ICBA is working with Congress to oppose the idea and ensure it does not advance on Capitol Hill. The association will continue its efforts against the proposal and will keep its members informed of the issue.

ICBA Advocates Effective Data-Security Laws
ICBA and the National Association of Federal Credit Unions this week called on Congress to pass legislation to secure consumer financial data following recent data breaches at Target, Neiman Marcus and other retailers. Community banks and credit unions agree that renewed focus has to be placed on properly addressing retail store breaches and increased standards for retailers.

In a joint letter to members of Congress, ICBA and NAFCU advocated legislation to:
  • apply Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act–like standards to all entities that store consumer financial data,
  • ensure that the party at fault for a breach is liable for all losses, and
  • create a single national standard to replace the patchwork of state data-security laws.
Separately, ICBA this week thanked senators for reintroducing ICBA-advocated legislation that recognizes the rigorous data security protocols that already apply to community banks. The Data Security Act of 2014 (S. 1927), sponsored by Sens. Thomas Carper (D-Del.) and Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), allows Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act consumer protections to serve as a safe harbor from additional regulation.

In addition to its Capitol Hill advocacy, ICBA continues offering data-security resources, including a recording of ICBA’s recent audio call on the data breaches and a best practices guide, on the association’s security breach toolkit.

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ICBA Nominates New Officers for 2014-15
ICBA this week announced the nominees for its 2014-15 executive committee. ICBA’s board of directors will vote on the nominations during the 2014 ICBA National Convention, scheduled for March 2-6 in Honolulu.

During the convention, current ICBA Chairman Bill Loving will become ICBA immediate past chairman, while ICBA Chairman-Elect John H. Buhrmaster will become ICBA chairman.

Additionally, Jack Hartings has been nominated to become ICBA chairman-elect, Rebeca Romero Rainey has been nominated for ICBA vice chairman, Preston Kennedy has been nominated for treasurer and Timothy Zimmerman will continue to serve as secretary.

Rounding out the executive committee are ICBA President and CEO Cam Fine, ICBA Past Chairman Jeffrey L. Gerhart, ICBA Past Chairman Sal Marranca and ICBA Consolidated Holding Chairman Cynthia Blankenship. Read ICBA Release.

Yellen To Be Sworn in Monday as Fed Chairman
The Federal Open Market Committee unanimously selected Janet Yellen to serve as its chair, effective tomorrow. Yellen is scheduled to be sworn in as Federal Reserve Board chairman at 9 a.m. (Eastern time) Monday.

OCC: Banks' Underwriting Standards Continuing to Ease
Underwriting standards are continuing to ease for both commercial and retail products, according to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency’s latest survey. In the OCC’s 19th Annual Survey of Credit Underwriting examiners reported that banks’ increasing risk appetite and greater market liquidity were factors that contributed to easing standards.

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.

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