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Week ahead: Congress considers pot banking, mega mergers and more

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Credit unions have a busy week ahead in Washington.

The Senate Banking Committee will hold a hearing Tuesday on the challenges surrounding banking the legal marijuana industry, including testimony from Rachel Pross, chief risk officer at Maps Credit Union in Salem, Ore. Pross testified on the same topic earlier this year on behalf of the Credit Union National Association.

Many financial institutions are wary of entering the marijuana banking sector due to the regulatory challenges associated with it. The marijuana industry is expected to be worth up to $28 billion according to NAFCU's Marijuana Banking Issue report. But a variety of state laws on the issue – ranging from fully illegal to legal only for medicinal use and legal for recreational use and medicinal use – has compounded the issue. Maps began serving Oregon’s legal weed industry in 2014 and Pross wrote in a LinkedIn post that the credit union chose “to step in with both feet” on the issue out of a “duty to contribute to the welfare and safety” of the communities it serves.
Credit Union Journal will have coverage of Pross’s testimony.


Lawmakers this week will also continue consideration of rules surrounding robocalls, with the full House expected to vote on HR 3375, the Stopping Bad Robocalls Act. Credit union groups have pushed for the Federal Communications Commission to amend rules that limit how CUs and banks can reach out to consumers through automated dialing programs, and both CUNA and NAFCU have asked for additional clarity on the matter.

The House Financial Services Committee will also hold hearings this week examining the proposed BB&T-SunTrust Bank merger to create Truist Bank. The deal is the largest bank merger in more than a decade and is expected to have an impact on credit unions throughout the southeast, but it could be held up by a credit union a fraction of the size of the merged institution. North Carolina-based Truliant FCU has filed suit against Truist, alleging the merged institution’s name is too similar to its own. Truliant CEO Marc Schaefer on Monday announced his plans to retire at the end of this year.

The committee will also hold a hearing Thursday regarding alternative data and its usage in relation to underwriting and credit scoring.

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