Flood InsuranceHouse Taking Up ICBA-Advocated Flood Insurance BillICBA-advocated legislation to protect homeowners from significant increases in National Flood Insurance Program premiums was introduced in the House. The House is expected to take up the legislation, introduced by Reps. Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.), as soon as tomorrow. ICBA is calling on community bankers to urge their members of Congress to support the amended version of the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act (H.R. 3370). The legislation would:
ICBA expressed its support for the legislation in a letter to members of Congress. The association strongly supports a comprehensive fix to dramatic NFIP premium increases under the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012. The increases would negatively affect home values and destabilize the still-recovering housing market in affected areas. The House debate follows a recent Senate vote approving S. 1926, similar legislation to delay steep NFIP rate increases. ICBA urges community bankers to tell their lawmakers to support H.R. 3370 and will continue working closely with the House and Senate to mitigate the rate increases. Contact Congress Today! Read H.R. 3370. Read Legislative Summary.RegulationICBA Urges Senate to Support Community Bank Presence on FedICBA urged the Senate to help ensure that community bank perspectives are well represented on the Federal Reserve Board. In a letter to senators, ICBA wrote that including on the board a member with a background in community banking or community bank supervision would provide appropriate and balanced representation. ICBA noted that the Federal Reserve plays a key role in the economy and is an important regulatory body. Additionally, community banks play a critical role in the nation’s economy, particularly with respect to small businesses and rural communities, ICBA wrote. The departure of former community banker Elizabeth Duke and former Maryland commissioner of financial regulation Sarah Bloom Raskin will leave the board without sufficient community banking experience, ICBA wrote. A community bank voice would help the panel consider how best to tier regulation so that regulatory objectives are met without disproportionately affecting community banks. The Senate letter follows a separate ICBA letter last week urging President Barack Obama to nominate to the Federal Reserve Board someone with a background in community banking or community bank supervision. PatentsState AGs Urge Congress to Advance Patent ReformA coalition of 42 state attorneys general called on Congress to amend patent-reform legislation to combat patent-assertion entities’ unfair and deceptive demand letters. In a joint letter to Senate Judiciary and Commerce committee leaders, the coalition advocated state enforcement authority and jurisdiction, increased transparency and patent litigation reform. The Senate is considering patent reform following House passage of the Innovation Act of 2013 (H.R. 3309) in December and last week’s White House announcement of new initiatives to initiatives to rein in abusive patent litigation. ICBA last week met with policymakers at the White House on patent-reform initiatives, including a new Patent and Trademark Office online toolkit. The association is pressuring policymakers 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. ICBA is urging Congress to pursue legislation that would strengthen demand letter transparency by requiring patent-assertion entities 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. These initiatives would build on the ICBA-advocated Leahy-Smith America Invents Act of 2011, which established a transitional proceeding at PTO to re-examine the validity of certain low-quality business-method patents. ICBA will continue working with Congress and the administration on these and other initiatives to address problems with patent abuse.SecurityNeiman Marcus Reduces Estimate of Compromised CardsNeiman Marcus downwardly revised its estimate of the number of payment cards compromised in its recent data breach. The retailer said the estimated number of potentially affected payments cards is approximately 350,000, down from its previous estimate of 1.1 million. ICBA last week announced that community banks have already reissued more than 4 million credit and debit cards at a total reissuance cost of more than $40 million following recent data breaches at major retailers. Data from a recent ICBA survey also show that community banks’ initial fraud costs were relatively low due to their quick action in reissuing affected cards, with less than 1 percent of community bank customers reporting fraud on their accounts following the breaches at Target and Neiman Marcus. ICBA has been working to advance the dialogue on cybersecurity following the data breaches and will continue to pursue more effective data-security standards and greater accountability. More information on ICBA’s efforts and data-security resources is available on ICBA’s online security breach toolkit.ICBA NewsWatch Today is sponsored by FIS:When it comes to serving community banks, FIS is right in your neighborhood. FIS understands that you’re more than a bank. You’re a vital resource to your community. That’s why we offer a wide range of integrated solutions that can be tailored to the unique needs of your valued customers. To stay competitive in an ever-changing banking landscape, you need to be more connected with your customers than ever before and FIS is focused on connecting the best people, processes and technology to your business to help you succeed. For more information on FIS’ complete suite of technology solutions, visit www.fisglobal.com. If you are attending ICBA’s Community Banking Live event in Honolulu, HI, please visit FIS at booth #216.Too-Big-To-FailHoenig: Too-Big-To-Fail Remains Economic ThreatThe nation’s too-big-to-fail problem remains a threat to economic stability is antithetical to capitalism, FDIC Vice Chairman Thomas Hoenig said. Hoenig outlined potential responses to the too-big-to-fail problem, such as simplifying the corporate structure of megabanks and requiring global banking companies to establish separate operating subsidiaries within each country “It is fundamental to capitalism that markets be allowed to clear in an open, fair manner and that all participants play by the same rules. A situation whereby oligopolies that evolve into institutions that are too big to fail, and are so significant and complex that should they fail the economy fails, is not market economics. To ignore these circumstances is to invite crisis. RegulatorsICBA’s Fine Joining Symposium on OCC’s 150th AnniversaryICBA President and CEO Cam Fine is scheduled to take part in an Office of the Comptroller of the Currency symposium on the 150th anniversary of the founding of the OCC and the national banking system. The symposium, slated for March 31 in Boston, will feature discussions of the state of the dual banking system, banking reform, the Volcker Rule, too-big-to-fail and the future of banking, among other topics. Symposium participants include former FDIC chairman Sheila Bair, Comptroller of the Currency Thomas Curry, FDIC Vice Chairman Thomas Hoenig, Boston University professor Cornelius Hurley and former Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker, among others. Learn More about the Event.Federal ReserveFed Plans Banking Application ReportsThe Federal Reserve Board announced that it will soon begin publishing a semi-annual report with aggregate data and other information regarding applications for bank expansion activities, including to mergers and acquisitions and new branches. The report will be released in the second half of 2014 and include statistics on the length of time taken to process applications and notices, the number of approvals, denials, withdrawals and the primary reasons for withdrawals. The board also released guidance describing common issues identified by the Federal Reserve that have led to recent withdrawal of applications.PollTake This Week’s Quick PollTake this week’s Quick Poll on proposed accounting restrictions, and view results from the previous poll on recovering defaulted debts. View the Archive.EducationWebinar Next Week Offers Advanced Tax Return Analysis for BanksAn ICBA webinar scheduled for tomorrow will address several advanced tax return concepts and related analyses for community banks. “Advanced Tax Return Analysis for Bankers,” scheduled for 11 a.m. (Eastern time), will review personal 1040 tax returns and the returns of both LLCs and an Subchapter S corporations, including Schedules M-1 and M-2, Schedule K-1, pass-through transactions, and other deductions. The remainder of the webinar will cover tax topics for business clients, such as corporate tax issues, capital gain and loss issues, qualified retirement accounts, estate planning and more. Learn More and Register.Products and ServicesLatest BankInsurance.com News Breaks Down Insurance Brokerage IncomeIn the latest of issue of BankInsurance.com News from Michael White Associates: Opposite Outcomes. While the bulk of the nation's bank holding companies skated full speed ahead with growing insurance brokerage revenue, slipping programs at two large bank holding companies dragged overall industry results lower. Find out which megabank holding companies were dead weight and which banks led the country in overall insurance brokerage income. Plus, this issue is jam-packed with earnings reports, regulatory headlines and mergers-and-acquisition news. Read the Issue.