Legislative and Regulatory Comment Letters

Woodstock Institute influences policy at the local, regional, and national level by closely analyzing the impact of pending proposals on low-wealth communities and communities of color.
April 7, 2008
Comment letter submitted to the Internal Revenue Service regarding the disclosure and use of tax return information by tax preparers for the purpose of marketing products such as RALs.
October 12, 2007
Comment letter proposing revisions to the Federal Reserve Board’s disclosure requirements for credit card and other open end credit under the Truth in Lending Act (TILA).  These comments strong support the requirement to disclose the Annual Percent Rate for these types of credit.
September 10, 2007
Comment letter sent in support of recent proposed interagency questions and answers regarding community reinvestment.  The proposal includes several changes to the list of qualified CRA activities including 1) stablishing a loan program to provide relief for low- and moderate-income homeowners facing foreclosure is an example of a type of program that is responsive to community credit needs, 2) assisting in foreclosure prevention counseling will be considered under community development services, 3)investing in a community development venture capital fund, or 4) participating in a SBA 504 loan over $1 million.
August 15, 2007
Comment letter submitted to the Federal Reserve recommending that, in addition to meaningful national predatory lending legislative, existing protections should cover loans originated by all lenders. It continues to state that the Board must use its rulemaking authority under HOEPA and adopt the above guidelines in order to protect consumers from mortgages with unfair and deceptive terms. 
July 2, 2007
Woodstock Institute comment letter requesting a public hearing and extension of the public comment period for Bank of America Corporation’s application to acquire ABN AMRO North America Holding Company (including the LaSalle Banks)
May 21, 2007
Suggests that the responsible underwriting guidelines and the disclosure of a mortgage's full cost proposed in the interagency statement be applied to all loans, not strictly subprime adjustable-rate loans.
May 21, 2007
Suggests several methods for screening loans in such a way as to reduce the number of loans covered by the law and more effectively focus the act and the resources of couseling agencies on borrowers seeking higher cost loans with potentially risky features.
February 6, 2007
Suggests the regulation implementing the small loan limits passed by the Department of Defense for service members and their dependants be applied all types of lenders, covers all types of loans not excluded by the law, and does place the burden on Service members to opt into protections.
February 1, 2007
Comment letter in support of the proposed FDIC Guidelines for Affordable Small Dollar Lending announced in early December to assist banks in responsibly meeting the small loan needs of their customers. The letter also supports the proposal to reward banks through the Community Reinvestment Act for developing appropriate loan products as well as the proposal to limit interest rates on these types of products to 36 percent.
January 19, 2007
Comment letter on 2006 Office of Thrift Supervision proposal to make its Community Reinvestment Act examination procedures consistent with the other federal bank regulatory agencies.
June 27, 2006
Woodstock Institute commended the bank on its regular Neighborhood Review Board meetings and its equitable pattern of lending in low-income and Hispanic communities, but expresses some concern over its poor performance in predominately African-American communities.
June 12, 2006
Woodstock Institute comments to federal banking regulators regarding the proposed Questions and Answers for the implementation of the Community Reinvestment Act regulations adopted by the Office of Thrift Supervision.  Comments support a common, interagency definition of "community development" and encourage the OTS to adopt the "intermediate small bank" test currently in use by the remaining three bank regulators.
March 31, 2006

Comment letter submitted in support of recent rules proposed by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulations (ILDFPR) developed in cooperation with the Egan Campaign for Payday Loan Reform.

The 2005 Payday Loan Reform Act applies to loans with terms of 120 or less, which the payday loan industry has circumvented by making loans with terms over 120 days. The proposed rules extended PLRA consumer protections to all payday loans, including those with terms over 120 days.  Recent data documents that one-third of payday loans made to Illinois consumers in early February have terms over 120 days.

March 28, 2006
Comment letter opposing the proposed NCUA rule part 701.1 which would restrict the adoption of underserved areas to credit unions with a multiple common bond charter. 
March 27, 2006
Woodstock Institute submitted a comment letter requesting the denial of the application of H&R Block to become a national thrift.  The OTS, which regulates thrifts and approved the application in March of 2006, should withhold approval based on new information provided by the Attorney General of New York describing the bank's intent to use the thrift charter to continue offering a type of retirement product that has been shown to consume any potential earnings with undisclosed fees.
March 9, 2006
Comment letter in support of the National Credit Union Administration’s proposal to conduct a one-time survey of a sample of credit unions on their penetration of low- and moderate-income communities.
January 11, 2006
This is a comment letter opposing the application submitted by Dearborn Federal Credit Union to the Office of Thrift Supervision to convert to a mutual savings bank, which is proposed to be known as DFCU Financial, FSB. It notes that the Community Reinvestment Act plan of DFCU Financial does not adequately meet the community reinvestment needs of the proposed bank’s assessment area.
January 6, 2006

Woodstock Institute has submitted comment letters to federal banking regulators regarding the Proposed Interagency Questions and Answers regarding Community Reinvestment.  

During the 2002-2005 regulatory review process, and again in this Q & A, Woodstock Institute has sought to clarify that any activity for which a bank receives CRA credit should directly impact low- and moderate-income people.  Under the current regulatory guidance, banks may receive CRA credit for investing in projects that benefit middle- and upper-income individuals if that project is located in a designated distressed or underserved middle-income non-metropolitan geography or disaster areas.  The letter also addresses the key concerns Woodstock Institute has raised during the past year regarding the evaluation of banks under the new intermediate small bank test, how innovative financial services are considered, and how innovative long-term investments should be considered if they extend beyond a single evaluation period.

August 26, 2005
Woodstock Institute requests an extended public comment period and exhaustive review of the combine banks deposits on the grounds that the proposed merger would violate the 10 percent limit on domestic deposits under the Reigle-Neil Act.  Woodstock also requests a thorough review of the deceptive effect of credit card rate structures, fees, terms, and conditions offered by both financial institutions.
May 6, 2005
Comments on the revised CRA proposal offered by the Federal Reserve Board for the regulation of intermediate small banks.  Woodstock Institute finds that the proposal is an improvement over the one previously issued by the FDIC and a vast improvement over recent changes the OTS has made to its CRA regulation which eliminated several key provisions.  The letter primarily addresses the elimination of the requirement to disclose small business data, regulation of bank branching, and the implementation of a community development test.
March 24, 2005
Comment letter on the advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPR) on the open-end credit rules of Regulation Z.  Finds that some of the policies examined in the ANPR – such as increasing interest rates and credit limits on short notice to those in debt – are particularly destructive.  Suggests changes to the regulation that would end unreasonable fees, deceptive payment allocation, cut-off times, and universal default.
January 20, 2005
Comment letter opposing the Office of Thrift Supervision’s proposed changes (No. 2004-53) to their regulation of the Community Reinvestment Act. The proposal would change the way that a “large” institution’s CRA rating is assigned, as well as broaden the definition of “community development” to include activities that do not benefit low- and moderate-income households and communities.
November 18, 2004
Comment letter in support of the proposed amendments to Regulation E which protects consumers using payroll cards from unauthorized transfers and undisclosed fees.  This amendment would also define a payroll card account directly or indirectly established by an employer to receive wages, salary, or other employee compensation on a recurring basis as an account which receives the consumer protections of the federal Electronic Funds Transfer Act.
September 16, 2004
Opposes amendment to 2005 appropriations bill which would  undermine the final rules adopted by the U.S. Department of the Treasury in accordance with Section 326 of the USA PATRIOT Act, which allows for financial institutions to accept the Matricula Consular.
September 15, 2004
Comments on the FDIC's proposed changes to their regulation of the Community Reinvestment Act (RIN3064-AC50) which would repleace the three part test with the lending and community development test for FDIC banks between $250 million and $1 billion in assets.
July 29, 2004
Comment letter on the proposed interagency guidance on overdraft protection finds that the the guidance will not protect consumers from a risky “service” that effectively amounts to a short-term, high-rate loan program.  Suggests that bounced check loans ought to be regulated under the Truth in Lending Act rather than the Truth in Saving Act.  TILA coverage would require that banks disclose the APR, solicit the affirmative assent of the consumer before enrolling them in a bounced check loan product, and ensures private right of action.
July 19, 2004
Additional comments regarding the 2004 Marquette Bank CRA exam.  This letter  discusses several concerns that arose as a result of Marquette's response to Woodstock Institute's initial comment letter.  Woodstock Institute found that , in its lending analysis, Marquette Bank uses the Chicago MSA as its geographic region of analysis rather than its designated CRA assessment area.  In addition, the five peer institutions Marquette uses in its comparisons are not compariable because they serve distinctly different communities.
July 14, 2004
Comment letter submitted as part of the bank's 2004 CRA performance evaluation.  Comments evaluate the bank's mortgage and small business lending to low- and moderate-income borrowers and communities; levels of grants and investments for community development organizations serving LMI communities; and access to bank branches in LMI communities.
June 29, 2004
Comment letter on the proposed housing goals for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac covering years 2005 to 2008.  The letter suggests that stronger goals are necessary  in the areas of increasing homeownership among minorities, fighting predatory refinance lending, and improving access to financing for affordable multi-family rental housing.
June 17, 2004
Comment letter on the proposed 2004 acquisition of Charter One Bank by Citizens Financial Group, a subsidiary of Royal Bank of Scotland.  Woodstock Institute recognizes Charter One's improvement under the five year CRA agreement with the Chicago CRA Coalition and encourages the new bank to reduce its dependence on purchased loans for CRA purposes.