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.
March 15, 2004
Comment letter on the proposed 2004 acquisition of Bank One by J.P. Morgan Chase.
December 11, 2003
Comment letter on Bank of America’s proposed 2003 acquisition of Fleet.  Woodstock Institute requests that the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond and the Federal Reserve Board hold multiple public hearings on Bank of America’s acquisition of Fleet.
November 18, 2003
Comment letter requesting that the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation consider the payday lending operations in its current safety and soundness examinations of Republic Bank & Trust.
September 30, 2003
Woodstock Institute's comment letter opposing the OCC preemption of state consumer protection statutes for national banks. This preemption removed much of the consumer and fair lending authority previously granted to states by Congress and failed to provide a national policy to protect borrowers from abusive lending practices.
September 9, 2003
Comment letter on the 2003 CRA examination of LaSalle Bank, N.A.  Addresses the overall poor performance with regards to lending to minority households, the low level of multifamily loan origination to minority and low-income borrowers, the lack of small business start-up loan products, and the inequitable distribution of bank branches.
August 20, 2003
Comment letter in reponse to E*TRADE Bank’s 2003 Needs to Improve CRA rating.  As one of the largest banks to ever fail a CRA exam, the letter suggests that E*TRADE Bank should formulate a strong and appropriate response.
August 8, 2003
Comment letter on the proposed 2003 acquisition of St. Francis Bank, FSB, by MAF Bancorp, holding company of MidAmerica Bank in Chicago. In light of MAF Bancorp’s recent settlement with the Department of Justice  regarding MidAmerica’s fair lending record, the Institute has several concerns about the proposed merger. 
July 24, 2003
Comment letter opposing any changes to the Section 326 customer identification rules that would not allow financial institutions to accept certain types of foreign government-issued identification, such as the Matricula Consular card, to open bank accounts for immigrants.  The letter states that the use of the Matricula Consular card has allowed thousands of families of Mexican origin to access financial services in the traditional banking sector rather than pay exorbitant rates at check cashers and payday loan stores.
July 11, 2003
Woodstock Institute strongly urges  the IRS to not expand pre-certification beyond the initial group of 45,000 filers before a comprehensive evaluation demonstrating that pre-certification is effective in reducing overpayments and can be conducted without significant harm to eligible filers.
April 15, 2003
Comment letter on Midwest Bank and Trust’s proposed 2003 acquisition of CoVest Banc.
March 24, 2003
Woodstock Institute comments to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency on National City’s request to the OCC to pre-empt the Georgia Fair Lending Act.  National City claims that the National Bank Act authorizes the OCC to occupy the field of real estate lending regulation thus suggesting that all the provisions of GFLA are preempted.
January 16, 2003
Addendum to comment letter on the proposed 2002 aquisition of Fidelity Federal Savings Bank by MAF Bancorp.  As a result of a Dept of Justice investigation, the bank announced that it was settling regarding fair lending disparities and discrimination against residents of minority census tracts. The Bank has agreed to open or acquire two branch offices in minority areas within 30 months, implement a targeted ad campaign to increase home mortgage lending, and provide $10 million in benefits to borrowers through special financing programs to help residents of minority areas achieve home ownership.
December 18, 2002
Comment letter on the proposed 2002 aquisition of Fidelity Federal Savings Bank by MAF Bancorp (parent company of MidAmerica Bank).  These comments follow up on Woodstock Institute's 2001 comments protesting MAF Bancorp’s proposed acquisition of Midtown Bancorp because of MAF Bancorp’s poor performance in lending to minorities and for its discriminatory CRA assessment area.
October 16, 2002
Addendum to the 2002 CRA exam comment letter submitted regarding Banco Popular North America.  The bank claimed that they make most of their lending through Equity One (a subprime lender) and an entity known as Banco Popular, N.A.
October 16, 2002
Comment letter in response to Netbank’s 2002 proposed CRA Strategic Plan.  The letter commends Netbank for significantly expanding its CRA assessment area to include the following states in their entirety: Arizona, California, Georgia, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Texas. This is an improvement over the more limited assessment area that the Bank put forth in its last CRA Strategic Plan.
October 1, 2002
Comment letter on the 2002 CRA examination of Banco Popular NA.  The letter discusses Banco Popular’s  basic checking account, which is  more expensive and contains more restrictions than accounts offered by other banks in the area.  The letter also expresses serious concern regarding Banco’s invisibility in the home purchase and refinance lending markets. An analysis of Banco Popular’s HMDA data shows the Bank made 2 home purchase loans and only 1 refinance loan in its Illinois assessment area in 2001.
September 4, 2002
Comment letter on the 2002 CRA exam of State Farm Bank.  Suggests that State Farm Bank should include :  MSAs or counties where it has branches and ATMs, and any MSA or non-metro county where it has originated a significant portion of its loans in its definition of its assessment area.
July 3, 2002
Comment letter opposing the proposed 2002 acquisition of the Bank of Kenney by Cincinnati BancGroup, Inc.  The letter also requests a public hearing to discuss the negative repercussions of allowing a payday lender to become a bank holding company in a clear attempt to avoid state laws regulating payday loans.
February 25, 2002
Comment letter on the CRA examination of First National Bank of Brookings, South Dakota. This letter states that Brookings should receive a lending test rating of no higher than ‘Needs to Improve’ due to its partnership with Cash America to offer payday loans in Illinois and other states.
October 9, 2001
Comments in response to the 2002 interagency Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on the Community Reinvestment Act.  Woodstock Institute comments support the current regulations and primarily address Section 1 on large retail institutions, Section 2 on small banks, and Section 3, addressing the CRA examination of wholesale banks under the community development test.  Comments on the activities of affiliates, the strategic plan option, community contacts procedure, the definition of assessment areas, and the collection and distribution of public data files are also included.
July 5, 2001
Comment letter opposing the proposed 2001 acquisition of Grupo Financiero Banamex Accival and its subsidiaries (Banamex) by Citigroup.
March 20, 2001
Suggestions submitted under the Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for the 2001 revisions to the 1995 regulation of the Community Reinvestment Act.  In particular these comments proposed different qualifications for CRA qualified small business lending, evaluating lending done by affiliates, and a new definition of community development loan.
February 27, 2001
Respond to the request for comments by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System on changes to Regulation Z under the Home Ownership and Equity Protection Act (HOEPA). HOEPA gives the Board broad regulatory authority over the predatory lending issue.  The comment letter suggests several improvements to the proposed consumer protections such as monthly payment disclosure, APR triggers, and counseling requirements.
February 11, 2001
Woodstock Institute's comments in response to the request for comments by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System on proposed changes to Regulation C: Home Mortgage Disclosure Act data regulations.  The letter supports the proposed changes to require the collection of the annual percentage rate, HOEPA status, and manufactured home status.  Additionally, the letter suggests that additional fields should be adding including points and fees, the age of the applicant, and an indicator of credit history.
December 29, 2000
Comment letter in support of  proposed predatory lending regulations to the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules as introduced in December, 2000 by Gov. George Ryan.  The rules would prohibit lump-sum financed credit life insurance, require lenders to document that the borrower can repay the loan, limit prepayment penalties that can trap borrowers in high-cost debt, and prohibit balloon payments of less than 15 years.  These rules do not impose an interest rate cap and would allow lenders to price loans according to risk.
December 19, 2000
Comment letter on the proposed 2000 strategic plan filed by Netbank.  Argues that the definition of assessment area needs to reflect the changing industry in order to keep in line with the intent and the language of the CRA statute.
November 15, 2000
Comment letter on the proposed 2000 acquisition of FirstStar by US Bancorp.
November 15, 2000
Comment letter on the CRA examination of M&I Bank FSB’s proposed strategic plan.  This letter states that banks such as M&I Bank FSB that do a significant amount of business nationwide over the Internet should consider even more expansive assessment areas in order to remain accountable to all of the communities that they serve.
October 2, 2000
Comment letter opposing the proposed 2000 acquisition of the Associates by Citigroup. Under normal merger application procedures, the letter states that this acquisition should be denied or at least conditioned on Community
Reinvestment Act (CRA) and fair lending grounds.
August 1, 2000
Comment letter on the 2001 proposed acquisition of  proposed acquisition of Mid Town Bancorp (parent of Mid Town Bank) by MAF Bancorp.