MCUA tracking CU-affecting acts as session gets under way
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (1/8/15)--As the Missouri General Assembly began its 2015 session Wednesday, the Missouri Credit Union Association (MCUA) is already on the watch for legislation that will affect credit unions.
The league's first priority is a bill intended to clarify the exemption for credit unions from the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act (MMPA), a consumer protection act that is directed at fraud between a seller and consumer during a transaction and includes punitive penalties and compensatory damages.
The bill, HB 256, makes two key changes:
- Clarifies that entities--including credit unions--have an existing exemption from the MMPA's penalty provision (section 407.025.1); and
- Clarifies the exemption of credit unions and banks from MMPA (section 407.020.2(3)) as long as they fall under a regulatory authority and regular periodic examinations.
"This clarification is needed because inconsistent and contradictory sections in the MMPA have created confusion in the courts, resulting in drastic implications to credit unions," said David Kent, MCUA director of state legislative affairs (Missouri Difference Jan. 7). "The intent of HB 256 is to make it clear that credit unions are exempt from the MMPA, as there are already ways for consumers to address these issues outside of the MMPA."
He noted that credit unions are regulated by state and federal authorities, and consumers have other avenues for airing concerns about financial institutions.
House Financial Institutions Committee Chair Tony Dugger (R-Hartville) is the bill's sponsor.
"MCUA is very appreciative to Rep. Dugger for sponsoring this legislation," added Kent. "Tony is very well-respected by members of both parties, and being the chair of the House Financial Institutions Committee he is well-versed on credit union and financial services issues."
Other bills that have potential impact on credit unions include:
- Vehicle titles (HB 68): Allows an auto dealer up to 21 days to transfer title to the owner; and
- Robbery of a financial institution (HB 254): Simplifies the definition of robbery to "...property is taken or attempted to be taken physically from an individual person ..."
- A bill on electronic lien releases has not been filed but is expected. It would allow a lien holder to electronically release the lien on a motor vehicle, boat, or trailer if the lien was filed electronically.
The session runs through May 15, and lawmakers have filed nearly 550 bills since Dec. 1.