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Member Spotlight
Washington Bank Forgiving Uninsured Debts Following Mudslide
ICBA-member Coastal Community Bank in Everett, Wash., made local headlines by offering support to members of its local community affected by a recent massive mudslide. The community bank announced that it will forgive any uninsured debt owed to the bank by customers who have been directly affected by the mudslide.

“Coastal Community Bank is ready to stand behind our customers, and if they are not insured and they owe us that debt, we will forgive that debt,” CEO Eric Sprink told KOMO-TV (Seattle).

Sprink told KIRO-FM (Seattle) that while the move likely will be a monetary loss for the community bank, using its loan-loss reserves for this purpose is the right thing to do to help the community rebuild.


Too-Big-To-Fail
Fine: Community Bankers Not Surprised by New Too-Big-To-Fail Reports
A new round of studies offer further evidence of the cost advantage megabanks enjoy over smaller institutions because of their too-big-to-fail guarantee, ICBA President and CEO Cam Fine wrote in a new American Banker op-ed.

Fine wrote that studies from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York show that investors believe the largest banks benefit from a taxpayer-funded backstop and that the largest banks have a greater appetite for risk if they expect future rescues. A separate International Monetary Fund report found that the too-big-to-fail problem has only intensified since the financial crisis.

These conclusions come as no surprise to community bankers, Fine wrote. “Community bankers know full well they face a government-sourced competitive disadvantage because they have to operate their businesses under these conditions every day,” he wrote. Read the Op-Ed.


Go Local
ICBA Kicks Off Community Banking Month
ICBA this week kicked off Community Banking Month by offering custom resources for community banks and launching an ad blitz in the nation’s capital ahead of the ICBA Washington Policy Summit.

ICBA continues offering Marketing and Communications Toolkit to help community bankers celebrate Community Banking Month throughout April. The toolkit includes customizable news releases, marketing ideas, and sample social media posts and graphics that community banks can use in their communities.

Meanwhile, ads running on Washington, D.C.-area buses, trains and a key Capitol Hill Metro station are spreading the community bank message and encouraging consumers to find a community bank on ICBA’s Community Bank Locator. The ads will run through the ICBA Washington Policy Summit, slated for April 29-May 2 in the nation’s capital.

Community bankers can register for free to the ICBA Washington Policy Summit to see the Community Banking Month ad campaign firsthand. The summit will feature face-to-face meetings with policymakers and remarks from Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen, FDIC Chairman Martin Gruenberg and Senate Banking Committee members Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.).

Also in April, community bankers can celebrate Community Banking Month by tweeting with the #BankLocally hashtag and sharing their photos with ICBA on Facebook.


Taxes
ICBA-Backed Tax-Extender Bill Advances
ICBA-advocated legislation to extend important tax provisions that have expired or will expire this year advanced in the Senate. The Senate Finance Committee approved on a voice vote the Expiring Provisions Improvement Reform and Efficiency (EXPIRE) Act.

In a letter this week to committee members, ICBA wrote that the legislation would provide much-needed tax code clarity and certainty for millions of families and businesses served by community banks. The association wrote that failing to extend the measures included in the EXPIRE Act would prolong harmful tax code uncertainty, dramatically increase tax burdens, and needlessly disrupt the economic recovery and job creation.



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Patents
ICBA, Coalition Back Stronger Patent Protections
ICBA and a coalition of other financial trade groups thanked the Senate Judiciary Committee for taking up legislation to address the continued onslaught of patent-assertion entities’ vague and misleading demand letters and frivolous litigation. The Patent Transparency and Improvements Act (S. 1720) would remove some of the PAEs’ financial incentive to assert low-quality patents in the hope of quick settlements, though additional reforms are needed in the bill to more fully address PAE abuses, the coalition wrote in a letter to lawmakers.

The legislation would clarify the Federal Trade Commission’s authority to help fight back against deceptive practices. In its letter, the coalition encouraged the committee to strengthen the provision by defining in greater detail minimum elements of transparency to promulgate demand letter standards that the FTC could enforce.

The coalition also encouraged lawmakers to include in final legislation a customer stay provision to clarify that depository institutions are covered as end users. It also advocated a provision requiring plaintiffs to specifically identify the financial product claimed to be infringing a patent to allow would-be defendants to determine whether to license, settle or litigate.

ICBA has been working with Congress and the Obama administration to protect community banks from PAEs, which assert infringement of business-method patents of dubious quality by legitimate businesses. The association recently met with policymakers at the White House on patent-reform initiatives, including a new Patent and Trademark Office online toolkit.


Farm Bill
USDA’s Vilsack Testifies on Farm Bill Implementation
The House Agriculture Committee heard testimony from USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack regarding implementation of the new farm bill.

At the hearing, committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) said implementation of the new farm bill will be the primary focus of the committee this year. He criticized the administration for new regulations that will burden farmers and noted that regulatory relief for farmers will also occupy the committee’s attention. 

“We will continue to monitor progress on implementing the farm bill, as well as provide oversight of any initiatives that could jeopardize the livelihoods of our farmers and ranchers," Lucas said.

“People who don’t understand agriculture and are driven more by political ideology are the biggest threats to the rural economy,” Ranking Member Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) said. Read Vilsack Statement. Read Farm Bill Progress Report.


Regulators
Fed Governor Jeremy Stein Stepping Down
Federal Reserve Board Governor Jeremy Stein said he will resign from the Fed, effective May 28. Stein, who has been a member of the board since May 30, 2012, submitted his letter of resignation to President Barack Obama and said he plans to return to his teaching position in Harvard University's department of economics. Stein, 53, was appointed to fill an unexpired term that ends Jan. 31, 2018.


Technology
April Windows XP Shutdown Looms for ATMs
Starting next week, many ATMs running on Windows XP software will no longer be eligible for Microsoft tech support. With Microsoft ending support for XP, ATMs that run on that operating system will no longer receive regular security patches and or be in compliance with industry standards.

Approximately 95 percent of the nation’s 420,000 ATMs run on the 12-year-old XP system. While advanced ATM fleets can do the update over their networks, older ATMs must be upgraded individually or replaced, the magazine reported.

For ATMs using a stripped-down version of XP known as Windows XP Embedded, which is less susceptible to viruses, Microsoft support lasts until early 2016. Read More from Microsoft.



Economy
Employment Up 192K in March
U.S. employers added 192,000 jobs in March, and the unemployment rate was unchanged at 6.7 percent, the Labor Department reported today. Employment grew in professional and business services, health care, and mining and logging. Employers also added 15,000 more jobs in January and 22,000 more jobs in February than previously estimated.




Poll
Take This Week’s Quick Poll
Take this week’s Quick Poll on celebrating Community Banking Month, and view results from the previous poll. View the Archive.





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