The Columbus Dispatch
By: Jessica Wehrman
WASHINGTON — Two central Ohio lawmakers teamed up yesterday to pass a bill that they say would allow small, privately insured credit unions to offer more loans, as well as loans at lower rates.
Reps. Steve Stivers, R-Upper Arlington, and Joyce Beatty, D-Jefferson Township, both members of the House Financial Services Committee, were co-sponsors of a bill that would allow privately insured credit unions to have more access to credit. Rep. Pat Tiberi, R-Genoa Township, also was listed as a co-sponsor on the bill.
Their bill aims to tweak what Stivers’ office calls a “legislative oversight” that has blocked a small number of privately insured credit unions — 133 in nine states, including 58 in Ohio — from joining the Federal Home Loan Bank System, which has been a source of credit and liquidity for mortgage lending since it was created in the 1930s.
While federally insured credit unions have been able to join the system for decades, their privately insured counterparts, which represent groups including firefighters, teachers, churches and small businesses, have not.
Patrick Harris of the Ohio Credit Union League said his organization supports the bill. He said he believes the exclusion of privately insured credit unions was “unintentional,” but it’s resulted in 334,000 credit-union members in the state of Ohio alone being unable to access the credit offered by the Federal Home Loan Bank System.
The legislation, he said, “would provide all credit unions additional lending capital to better serve their members.”
But James Thurston, a spokesman for the Ohio Bankers League, said his organization has concerns. He said the credit unions in question are not federally examined or federally insured, and the organization is concerned about giving such credit unions access to the Federal Home Loan Bank System. The league’s member banks, he said, “have a real interest in the health of the system and would not like to see anything jeopardize that health.”
Stivers said that although the bill would allow the affected credit unions to apply, “it does not guarantee they will receive membership.” They would have to go through the same application process as everyone else.
And because the number of credit unions affected is so small, there’s “no real concentration or risk” involved with the bill, he said.
The bill passed the House 395-0.
In the Senate, Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, and Rob Portman, R-Ohio, introduced a similar measure last year.