May 09, 2014

NAFCU watching for movement on housing finance, patent reform

May 12, 2014 – NAFCU this week will be monitoring possible movement of the Johnson-Crapo housing finance reform package in the Senate Banking Committee as well as a potential mark-up of patent reform legislation in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The Senate Banking Committee opened a mark-up of the housing finance reform measure authored by committee Chairman Tim Johnson, D-S.D., and Ranking Member Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, a couple weeks ago but paused to give members more time to review the bill. However, it was reported Thursday that six key Senate Democrats decided against supporting the package unless major changes are made. The current sentiment around Capitol Hill is that while passage isn't impossible this year, the odds of that have dropped significantly.

NAFCU lobbyists have learned that the committee plans to resume mark-up on Thursday. The association has been in contact with Senate Banking members, other members of the House and Senate, the White House, Federal Housing Finance Agency and more to ensure that small institutions have equal, competitive access to the secondary mortgage market in any future housing finance system. It has meanwhile raised concerns about costs and uncertainty surrounding the proposed reforms. It has made several recommendations with other financial trade organizations to improve the discussion draft.

The Senate Judiciary Committee also postponed its planned markup of S. 1720, the "Patent Transparency and Improvements Act of 2013" in order to try to work out a bipartisan deal on the bill, and may consider the bill this week. Introduced by committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., S. 1720 is meant to increase transparency in the ownership of patents and protect consumers against frivolous patent-infringement lawsuits.

NAFCU has been working in support of patent reform legislation, including House-passed H.R. 3309, the "Innovation Act," introduced by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., and two separate bills from Sens. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., and Hatch that would help discourage patent trolls from filing frivolous lawsuits.

On Thursday, the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations will hold a hearing on consumer security and data privacy in the online advertising industry. The panel is investigating data collection processes and security vulnerabilities that have led to costs for Internet users and businesses.

The House is in a week-long recess and is scheduled to return next week.