Posts tagged ‘redistricting’

New York Court Invalidates Congressional and Legislative Districts

In a decision which could have a direct and substantial impact on the political environment in which credit unions operate, not only in New York State but around the country, New York’s highest court invalidated a Congressional map which would have favored Democrats to pick up at least three seats, and a state Senate map which was the first drawn by Senate Democrats since the modern redistricting process started in the 1960s and would have helped them maintain their super-majority

In the decision, the Court of Appeals not only invalidated the new maps but put a special master in charge of developing an alternative.  The Court concluded that there was insufficient time to allow the Legislature to redress the situation.  To put it nicely, the decision scrambles the political timeline.  Currently, primaries are scheduled to take place on June 28th, but with members not knowing precisely what districts they will be running in, it looks like New York is headed for a frenzy of political activity over the summer. 

This was the first redistricting cycle following amendments to the state constitution in which a bi-partisan Independent Redistricting Commission (IRC) was charged with drawing a map to be submitted to the legislature for its approval.  Under the process outlined in the Constitution, the IRC was supposed to make at least two attempts at coming up with a single plan for submission to the legislature.  The IRC deadlocked however, and its only submission to the Legislature was a set of competing maps.  State law now also mandates that maps not be politically gerrymandered. 

The Court of Appeals ruled that the maps approved by the Legislature failed both tests.  “Through the 2014 amendments, the People of this state adopted substantial redistricting reforms aimed at ensuring that the starting point for redistricting legislation would be district lines proffered by a bipartisan commission following significant public participation, thereby ensuring each political party and all interested persons a voice in the composition of those lines. We decline to render the constitutional IRC process inconsequential…”.

While this is a big deal, remember that we won’t know its precise impact until Election Day and New York is still a state with an overwhelming Democratic enrollment edge. 

April 28, 2022 at 9:35 am Leave a comment

Getting Ready For The Legislature’s Stretch Run

Yours truly is back from his Carolina vacation and has caught up with enough e-mail to finally post again.  While there is a lot I want to get off my chest – there is only so much my wife wants to hear about the banking industry during an eight-hour car ride – I think I will start with a description of some of the key legislative and regulatory issues that will be impacting New York state credit unions in the coming weeks. 

Not only is this an election year, but it is an election year following the redrawing of the election map, meaning that the legislature will want to get out of town as quickly as possible, especially with primaries scheduled for June. 

One of the most important issues we are dealing with is a bill that would retroactively impose strict new requirements on lenders foreclosing on property (S5473D Sanders).  As many of our members have already explained to their representatives during our state GAC, as currently drafted, the retroactive application of this bill and the ambiguity regarding the right of lenders and borrowers to negotiate modifications without running out of time to foreclose on property will actually make it more difficult to work with delinquent borrowers.

We are also continuing to advocate for changes to a proposed data portability and privacy bill which does not currently exempt financial institutions (S6701A Thomas / A680B Rosenthal) as well as continuing to express a strong opposition to state level anti-trust legislation (S933A Gianaris) which could negatively impact the ability of credit unions to help provide communities banking services, particularly in underserved areas. 

All this is taking place as New York’s highest court hears an appeal of a case challenging the legality of New York’s redrawn Congressional map which could allow Democrats to pick up four additional seats as they struggle to keep their majority.  Expect a decision to come down shortly.

As for the federal level, there is an interesting article in today’s WSJ reporting that privacy legislation may finally be getting traction in Congress.  This is potentially good news, provided the legislation does not impose additional requirements on credit unions and the legislation preempts state law.  But I still remain skeptical that Congress will be able to get legislation done this year.  Hopefully, I am wrong.

On the regulatory front, we are still waiting to see what will come out of the CFPB’s initiative against so-called “junk fees”.  The president of the American Bankers Association has already taken to publicly accusing the Bureau of going rouge.  My bet is that we are going to be hearing a lot about overdraft fees in the coming months. 

Last, but not least, let’s hope that the NCUA is going to be following up on its reach-out to credit unions by providing additional guidance as credit unions begin to explore the banking issues raised by distributed-ledger technologies and cyber currencies.  On May 11th yours truly will be discussing the state of regulation in this area and how it is going to impact your credit union as part of the Southern Tier’s Spring Chapter Event in Binghamton.  I noticed it’s at an Irish pub, so let’s share a half-and-half as we ruminate on how technology is once again upending the way banking is done.

Full disclosure, my wife and kids won’t be attending.  They already heard enough about how the NCUA needs to move more quickly and provide additional guidance in this area.  It was one of my favorite topics as we drove around North Carolina.

April 27, 2022 at 9:57 am Leave a comment

The Single Biggest HMDA Mistake Made By Credit Unions

It’s that time of year again when we not only find out whether there will be six more weeks of winter but we get last second warnings from regulators reminding us that it is time for that yearly ritual of submitting HMDA data to the CFPB.  Based on the calls to the Association’s Compliance Hotline, it is my ever so humble opinion that the biggest mistake many credit unions make is that they comply with HMDA even though they don’t have to.  This is like going to the dentist for the heck of it.

Simply put, your credit union only has to comply with HMDA if ALL of the following criteria apply:

1.    Your credit union’s total assets exceeded $50 million as of December 31, 2021.  Remember, this threshold is annually adjusted and because of inflation, there was a substantial increase of over 4% this year;

2.    Your credit union had a home or branch office in a Metropolitan Statistical Area on December 31, 2021.  This is one of the most common criteria credit unions overlook when deciding whether or not to comply with Regulation C;

3.    Your credit union originated at least one home purchase loan (other than temporary financing such as a construction loan) or refinanced a home purchase loan, secured by a first lien on a one-to-four unit dwelling during 2021; and

4.    Your credit union originated at least 100 covered closed-end mortgage loans in each of the two preceding calendar years (2020 and 2021) or at least 200 covered open-end lines of credit in each of the two preceding calendar years (2020 and 2021).  This is the newest confusing twist brought about by the inclusion of open-end lines of credit as independent triggering criteria for HMDA compliance.   

For those of you for whom HMDA does apply, in addition to this memo from the NCUA, two guides that I always utilize are the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council’s “A Guide to HMDA Reporting Getting It Right!”  and the CFPB’s “Small Entity Compliance Guide for Regulation C”.  Remember the deadline is fast approaching.

State Lines Drawn

In a recent blog post, I chatted about some of the changes to the Congressional map being passed by the New York State Legislature this week.  I haven’t had a chance to do a deep dive yet on the state level, but here is an article describing some of the changes in store for the State Senate.  Most importantly, two more Senate seats are created in the City, which will provide a huge buffer for the Democratic majority for decades to come.  

February 3, 2022 at 9:41 am Leave a comment

Why Redistricting Matters To You

As early as tomorrow, the legislature may vote on a bill to reconfigure state legislative and congressional districts in New York in response to population changes that have taken place over the last decade.  Because of New York’s slowing population growth, the Congressional delegation, which is currently comprised of eight Republicans and nineteen Democrats will be reduced by one. 

For political junkies this is the ultimate political blood sport.  But even if you have the good sense to not be addicted to politics, the vote by the Legislature tomorrow will have a profound impact on the environment in which your credit union operates over the next decade.  In fact, more so than other years, New York’s redistricting plan has important federal implications. 

Most importantly, as things currently stand, Democrats hold a ten seat majority in the House of Representatives, with one vacancy.  In other words, every seat is crucial, particularly heading into an election year where the Republicans are poised to make big gains. 

New York is one of the states where the Democrats are best positioned to draw maps to mitigate some of these losses.  This is particularly true since this is the first time in decades that Democrats hold majorities in the Assembly and the Senate and can work with a Democratic Governor.  If press reports are accurate, it appears that the Democrats are going to try and squeeze out three additional seats for their side.

Right now, the 1st District on the east end of Long Island is held by Republican Lee Zeldin, who is running for Governor.  The new district would stretch much farther out into the island giving Democrats an enrollment advantage in a district that went solidly for President Donald Trump in 2020.

The 11th District, based on Staten Island, has been one of the most competitive over the last decade.  But whereas its current center of gravity is the Republican enclave of Staten Island, the new District would encompass much more of Brooklyn which is dominated by Democrats.  It appears that the seat might be set for a rematch between former Democrat Max Rose and current Rep. Nicole Malliotakis who beat Rose in the last election. 

Central New York doesn’t miss out on the fun.  The 22nd Congressional seat, which has also been one of the most highly contested in the nation and is currently held by Republican Claudia Tenney, who reclaimed the seat from Democrat Anthony Brindisi, is in the words of one political analyst, “cannibalized”.  Its remnants strengthen Congressman Anthony Delgado (NY-19) who represents one of the most geographically diverse districts in the state.

Although the federal implications of this round of redistricting are getting most of the attention, it also marks a crucial point for the New York State Legislature.  If you’re wondering how the Republicans were able to hold onto power in the state Senate for decades, even as the Democrat enrollment edge grew, the simple reason is redistricting where the law gives state legislatures even more flexibility in drawing new lines than they have when it comes to creating Congressional districts.  Remember, right now Senate Democrats hold a veto proof majority of 43-20.  It will be interesting to see how the redrawn maps can help Democrats in holding on to that majority.  Recent results from Long Island portend a tough year for suburban Democrats. 

None of these match ups guarantee Democrat victories, but redistricting has its biggest impact in the first round of elections, after maps are redrawn.  Besides, at the very least, the new maps mean that many of you will have a new set of representatives to introduce yourselves to in the coming months.

February 1, 2022 at 10:16 am Leave a comment

Four Things You Need To Know To Start Your Credit Union Day

For the first time in a while, I am overflowing with news you need to know to start your credit union day. As long time readers know, what follows is a series of quick hits, any one of which would be worthy of its own blog on a quieter day.

Treasury Pushes For Expanded Reporting Responsibilities

Anyone who thought we were out of the woods after the House Ways and Means Committee approved a plan to pay for a $3.5 trillion spending package that did not include increased reporting requirements for banks and credit unions is mistaken. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig have written letters urging Congress to include the proposal in the final budget package.

With the caveat that there has been no language officially proposed, the idea under consideration would mandate that financial institutions report gross report flows of income in and out of accounts that exceed $600.

Clearly this would impose an onerous new mandate on credit unions and alienate more than a few members. Stay tuned for more information from the Association.

How Was Your Examination Service?

The NCUA announced yesterday that federal credit unions will be asked to submit a post examination survey that will be administered by the NCUAs Ombudsman’s office as part of a pilot program.

If you have fantasies about using the survey to vent after a rough examination, you will be disappointed. The letter explains that “examination disagreements or reports of waste, fraud, or abuse should not be reported through the survey response.” At the risk of being branded a heretic, the industry spends way too much time obsessing over the examination process.  After all, disagreements are inevitable and it’s actually a sign the system is working.

FHFA Makes It Easier To Finance Investment Property

The Federal Housing Finance Administration and Treasury announced that they were suspending certain agreements entered into this past January which placed caps on the number of investment property mortgages that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac could purchase. This is the latest in a series of moves by the new leadership at the FHFA to use the GSEs to more aggressively provide aid for homebuyers.

Acting Director Thomson discussed the changes at NAFCUs Congressional Caucus. In a closely related development, the FHFA is also proposing changes to the capital requirements for the GSEs.

Let The Redistricting Games Begin

Yesterday marked the first formal step in the once-a-decade political blood sport that is redistricting. By the time the process is complete, the Legislature will have approved new Congressional and Legislative Districts that will shape the direction of politics and policy for decades to come. This morning’s Times Union is reporting that the bipartisan commission designed to propose the initial redistricting plan has instead proposed two separate plans. One supported by Republicans, the other by Democrats. It boldly predicted that a partisan stalemate looms in New York redistricting, which is tantamount to Claude Rains’ character Captain Renault claiming to be shocked that gambling is taking place in a casino. 

September 16, 2021 at 10:14 am Leave a comment

March Madness, Albany Style

According to a post this morning by the Harvard Business Review, lost productivity will cost American businesses between $175 million and $1 billion as a result of people taking today off to watch college basketball or following the games while at work.  Your faithful blogger is no exception to this trend as I have taken the day off to win some poker money and watch the games, but first there was so much legislative and political news yesterday that I chose to forgo my usual format so you can get all the highlights.

NCUA Reports Solid SIF

At its board meeting yesterday, NCUA reported that the Share Insurance Fund (SIF) ended with more money in the till than expected in 2011 as a result of fewer troubled credit unions and portfolio growth.  The agency was also able to transfer $278.6 million to the Temporary Corporate Credit Union Stabilization Fund.  This is, of course, good news, every little bit helps.

Credit Unions on the Outside Looking In on JOBS Bill

According to CU Times, Senator Reid has decided not to include legislation raising the member business loan cap as part of the Senate JOBS bill, which could be taken up as early as Tuesday.  He has, however, promised to bring the bill up as a stand alone, but even if the Senate passes such legislation, this means that it would also have to be passed by the House.  In contrast, if the Senate was to include the bill in its JOBS legislation on Tuesday, the amendment could be reconciled with the House as part of negotiations to get a compromise bill passed.  If the reports are accurate, Senator Reid’s decision is a big setback for credit unions.

Secondary Capital Coalition Formed

Bethpage Federal Credit Union on Long Island is taking a lead role in forming a coalition dedicated primarily to pushing secondary capital reform through Congress.  The group, called The Coalition for Credit Union Access, was formed following introduction of H.R. 3993, which would give credit unions the option of taking in secondary capital , making it easier for credit unions to grow without endangering their net worth.  The group’s site can be accessed at http://www.creditunionaccessforall.com/.

In The Wee Small Hours of the Morning

I hope my former colleagues in the Legislature are spry and chipper this morning.  At approximately 5:00 yesterday morning, the Legislature approved new lines for Assembly and Senate districts for this year’s elections.  Senate Democrats walked out in protest rather than vote on the plan.  In return for approval of the plan, the Governor secured a constitutional amendment which will allow a Commission to take two cracks at drawing the lines ten years from now.  If I am reading the bill correctly, if this plan is rejected by the Legislature, then the Legislature comes up with the final map configuration.  If I am still doing this blog ten years from now, I will comment further at that point.  Stay tuned. . .

The Legislature could not come to an agreement on Congressional lines, so it is expected to defer to a proposal drafted by a court-ordered special master.  Under this plan, the two biggest losers would be first term Democratic Congresswoman Cathy Hochul, who won an upset special election in the 26th Congressional District.  She indicated she will run again, but not against fellow Democrat Brian Higgins (NY-27), whose district she now lives in.  Another casualty is Republican Bob Turner.  Turner scored an upset victory to fill the seat vacated by Anthony Weiner, but his district is largely eliminated.  He has already indicated that he would like to get the Republican nod to run against Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.  New York loses two Congressional Districts as a result of reapportionment.  New York’s Congressional primaries are currently scheduled for June 26.  If the Legislature adopts a similar time-table for itself, expect an early departure from Albany, especially since pension reform was also agreed to as part of yesterday’s spasm of late night legislative activity

The redistricting dominoes continued to fall yesterday with the announcement that long-term Congressman Gary Ackerman, who has served on the House Financial Services Committee, will retire.  Ackerman is the second veteran Congressman to retire from the New York Delegation.  Representative Maurice Hinchey was the first.

March 16, 2012 at 8:33 am 2 comments

New York’s Rorschach Test

Redistricting has been called America’s greatest political blood sport, but really it is more like a Rorschach Test:  if you stare at a political map long enough you can see just about anything you want.  Yesterday, the Legislature publicly unveiled proposed new State Senate and Assembly districts reconfigured to comply with changes to New York’s population reflected in the 2010 census.  Congressional maps have yet to be released.  Given the importance of which party controls the Senate, I will be focusing my thoughts on that chamber’s plan, but a link to all the proposed maps is included below.

With Republicans holding a slim majority in the Senate in this overwhelmingly Democratic state entering into a presidential election year, this plan will have the most direct impact on New York’s political trajectory as any redistricting plan has ever had.

As suspected, the Senate is proposing a 63rd Senate District.  The number will prevent a recurrence of the split Legislature we experienced two years ago and allow the Senate Republicans to add a Republican leaning seat in suburban Albany.

The most closely contested Senate election this year will most likely involve first term Republican Senator Mark Grisanti. As reported earlier this week, his newly reconfigured 60th Senate District no longer includes Democrat-dominated Niagara Falls and it picked up some Republican-leaning Erie County suburbs such as Hamburg.

The most interesting proposal is to redraw the 16th Senate District in Queens to make it the first majority Asian Senate District in the state.  The Asian population is among the most underrepresented politically in New York.  The new district would benefit Republicans by putting Democratic Senators Tony Avella and Toby Ann Stavisky in the position of having to primary each other.  In fact, five open districts would be created under the plan and no fewer than six New York City Democrats would be split into three districts according to the Wall Street Journal.

Remember that the plan is far from done.  Another round of hearings will now be held on the proposal and even if the Governor signs off on the new plan instead of vetoing it as he has threatened, the Justice Department has to sign off on the final map and we must have the obligatory lawsuits.  A link to all the maps can be found at http://www.latfor.state.ny.us/maps/.

NCUA holds monthly board meeting

At its monthly Board Meeting yesterday, NCUA gave final approval to a regulation requiring that credit unions develop policies and procedures to guard against the risk of a sudden spike in interest rates.

NCUA also put out an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking considering the expanded use of derivatives by credit unions.  No, you’re not experiencing déjà vu.  NCUA previously put out an ANPR on this topic but would like more information on what requirements credit unions should meet before they can use these financial tools.  We all know how dangerous certain types of derivatives can be, especially when they are misused, so I don’t blame NCUA for being cautious.  But I also hope it moves quickly to craft a final regulation since derivatives can be one of the best hedges against interest-rate spikes that NCUA is so anxious to avoid.

A third proposal seeks to develop more uniform policies and procedures when dealing with troubled mortgages. 

Have a great weekend.

January 27, 2012 at 7:35 am Leave a comment

As New York Goes, So Goes the Nation?

It is always dangerous to extrapolate too much from a single local election, but Republican Bob Turner has emerged as the Obama Administration’s canary in the political coal mine with his apparent victory over Assemblyman David Weprin in the Special Election for the 9th Congressional District seat vacated by social networking devotee Anthony Weiner.    The 9th District is not just overwhelmingly Democratic, it has been the district of past stars including Geraldine Ferraro and Senator Charles Schumer.  In addition, the election was lost less than a week after President Obama unveiled a stimulus package designed, in part, to showcase Democratic sensibilities. 

The President certainly isn’t doomed yet, but it is hard to see how next year’s election becomes nothing more than a job interview for the Republican nominee if President Obama does not change the dynamics soon.  Since the economy shows no signs of aiding his reelection, it seems to me that the political environment puts even more pressure on the so called “Super Committee” trying to decide on at least $1.5 trillion in additional budget cuts over the next decade.  Any agreement will at least allow the President to point to progress, however slight. 

In New York, the special election result may well have its most direct impact upstate.  The Legislature must decide on what two Congressional districts to cut by the end of the upcoming legislative session.  With the Democrats in control in the Assembly and the Republicans in control in the Senate, one Republican and one Democrat will be chosen to lose their districts.  Had Assemblyman Weprin won, the 9th District may very well have been the most logical district for the Democrats to sacrifice since the Assemblyman has the least seniority and his district can be divided up to aid fellow Democratic incumbents.  Now with a Republican winning the 9th District, Democrats may well look upstate for their sacrificial lamb.  This means that perennially endangered Congressman Bill Owens, who represents the North Country, as well as Congresswoman Kathleen Hochul are once again potential targets.  There would be a special irony if Congresswoman Hochul lost her district because she took over the 26th Congressional seat when Republican Christopher Lee resigned after sending pictures of himself posing shirtless to a potential date.  Sound familiar?

September 13, 2011 at 8:50 pm 1 comment


Authored By:

Henry Meier, Esq., Senior Vice President, General Counsel, New York Credit Union Association.

The views Henry expresses are Henry’s alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Association. In addition, although Henry strives to give his readers useful and accurate information on a broad range of subjects, many of which involve legal disputes, his views are not a substitute for legal advise from retained counsel.

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