December 11, 2013
Wednesday Edition
Senators vote 57-41 for Watt as FHFA leader

Rep. Mel Watt (D-N.C.) was confirmed by a 57 to 41 vote in the U.S. Senate to become the director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency on Tuesday.

Earlier in the day, the Senate approved a series of procedural votes that cleared the way for the final approval of Watt's nomination. 

The Obama administration's success in getting its nominee for FHFA director through the confirmation process owes a nod to the recent changes in the Senate's filibuster rules.

The chamber voted a reported 57 to 49 to move Obama's FHFA choice forward. Prior to the filibuster rule changes, it would have required 60 votes to move ahead—a near impossibility in Watt's case where support and opposition were clearly delineated along party lines.

Watt was nominated by Pres. Obama in May. He has served in the U.S. Congress since 1992, and is a veteran member of the House Financial Services Committee.

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This week in Alabama politics: House GOP announces 2014 agenda

The Alabama House of Representatives Republican Caucus announced its agenda for the 2014 regular session. The GOP agenda titled,"Commonsense Conservative," has nine proposals, the majority of which involve some type of tax relief for state citizens or small businesses.

Below are the nine proposals listed on the agenda:

  1. Small Business Tax Relief Act: Currently if businesses have an estimated monthly sales tax payment of more than $1,000, they are required to pay in advance. This bill would increase the $1,000 to $2,500.  Republicans say that it will pump around $4.6 million into the economy.

  2. Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights: Creates an independent process for hearing tax appeals and establishes better procedures within the Alabama Dept. of Revenue for taxpayers.

  3. Tax Elimination Act: Allows the Alabama Dept. of Revenue to suspend taxes and fees when it actually costs more money to collect than the taxes and fees would generate.

  4. Business Streamlining Act: Creates an online tax filing system for filing business personal property taxes and allows businesses with $10,000 or less in business personal property to file a short form instead of an itemized form.

  5. Revolving Door Act: Bans former lawmakers from lobbying either house of the legislature for two years after leaving office. Currently lawmakers are allowed to lobby the house in which they did not serve.

  6. The Healthcare Rights of Conscience Act: States that healthcare workers in the state cannot be required to provide services that violate his or her conscience.

  7. Adoption Credit Act: Gives Alabamians a one-time tax credit of $1,000 for the adoption of an Alabama child either through private adoption or the state foster care system.

  8. Alabama Taxpayer Audit Protection Act:  Protects groups in Alabama that are “targeted” by the Internal Revenue Service for tax audits.

  9. Statutory Immunity for Teachers and State Employees Act: Gives Alabama teachers and state employees codified immunity from being sued while acting in their official capacity.
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Florida capitol report

Committee week
The fourth week of interim committee meetings leading up the to the 2014 regular session of the legislature takes place this week. The Senate meeting schedule can be found here. The House is not holding meetings this week. The Senate Banking and Insurance Committee heard presentations on the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund, Citizens Property Insurance Corp., and the National Flood Insurance Plan when it met yesterday. The League's GA staff was in attendance to hear the latest on these important issues.

Florida leads nation in luxury home foreclosures
Florida’s foreclosure rate for all housing units is the highest in the nation for October, but it's also home to the most high-end foreclosures in the country, according to a report released by RealtyTrac. Dubbed “ultra high-end homes” and defined as those valued at $5 million or more, the report shows Florida had 67 such properties in some stage of foreclosure through the first 10 months of the year -- nearly quadruple the 17 luxury homes in foreclosure all of last year. Click here to continue reading.

Financial Literacy in Public Schools
Passed last session and signed by the governor on April 22, 2013, SB 1076 created certain funding incentives to increase the likelihood that educational programs in Florida’s public schools, colleges, and universities will better prepare students for future occupations and careers. Specifically, the bill called for financial literacy to be included in high school graduation requirements, as part of the required credit in economics.

Proposed legislation by Sen. Dorothy Hukill (R- Port Orange) and Rep. Heather Fitzenhagen (R-Fort Myers) for the 2014 session would tweak that bill by making the half-credit financial literacy requirement separate from the credit required in economics. SB 212 would revise the required credits for high school graduation and a standard high school diploma to include one-half credit for instruction in personal financial literacy and seven and one-half, rather than eight, credits in electives.

During a news conference in Tallahassee on Tuesday, Sen. Hukill said, "It's time for us to move forward on making this (financial literacy) a stand-alone course. People ask how we can afford this; my answer is how do we not afford this?" The lawmakers emphasized that this bi-partisan measure would not only require teens to take a half-credit, full-semester course in personal financial literacy education to meet graduation requirements, but that the bill would help high school students to learn the financial skills critical to their future and Florida's economic growth as well.


Senate sponsor Dorothy Hukill at the podium with House sponsor Heather Fitzenhagen on the left.


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Do you want to crash the GAC?

For this year’s Government Affairs Conference (GAC) in Washington D.C., Feb. 23-27, CUNA and the Cooperative Trust are looking to send one young professional from each state and the District of Columbia to crash the event. In addition to the core schedule of GAC events, crashers will take part in exclusive sessions that will provide a greater focus on credit union advocacy and activities that can help to grow and promote credit unions on the state and federal level.

Each crasher will receive a full conference registration, courtesy of CUNA, and a Cooperative Trust membership. Travel, hotel, and food costs are the responsibility of the crasher and their credit union but LSCU & Affiliates will be providing two CUNA GAC YPG Scholarships in the amount of $2,000 per person/state. 

Click here for more information. Applications are due by Dec. 17, 2013.

If you have any questions, contact LSCU & Affiliates SVP of Association Services Jared Ross or the Cooperative Trust.

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In This Issue
Wednesday Edition
Senators vote 57-41 for Watt as FHFA leader
This week in Alabama politics: House GOP announces 2014 agenda
Florida capitol report
Do you want to crash the GAC?
LSCU & Affiliates Media


2013 Leadership Development Conference Wrap Up
Check out a wrap-up video from the Leadership Development Conference, Nov. 5-8. The video features some of the speakers and attendees. Make plans to attend next year. 

2014 CUNA GAC
CUNA President/CEO Bill Cheney promotes CUNA's 2014 Governmental Affairs Conference.

Upcoming League Events
Dec. 12 Steps to Effective Expense Control
Dec. 17 Reg E vs ACH Rules
Dec. 18 Questions Board Members Need to Ask
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