Swipe fees: reform delayed, caps reduced

Zarsky Lumber's Cally Fromme and Simpson Strong Tie's Roger Dankel make their rounds on Capitol Hill during the 2011 National Lumber & Building Material Dealers Association's Legislative Conference.
Congressman Mike Pence provided a legislator's perspective during the event, which included the NLBMDA and the Windows and Doors Manufacturers Association (WDMA). The Indiana Republican was named 2010 NLBMDA Legislator of the Year. 
Chris Yenrick, right, of Winston-Salem, N.C.-based Smith Phillips Building Supply was honored as the Grassroots Dealer of the Year. With him are his son Ashton and Joe Collings, NLBMDA chairman.
Inside the Rayburn Building, NLBMDA representatives discuss strategy. Members were armed with position statements on a variety of issues, and focused on the three main points of 1099 paperwork repeal, workable lead paint/remodeling laws and the Innocent Sellers Fairness Act.
Cally Fromme of Victoria, Texas-based Zarsky Lumber meets with freshman congressman Blake Farenthold from Texas' 27th District in his Rayburn Building office.
Following a day of legislative updates and meetings on Capitol Hill, the NLBMDA and WDMA hosted a reception. The 2011 Legislative Conference ran March 14 to 16.

The National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association (NLBMDA) said it was disappointed by the Federal Reserve Board's decision to delay and reduce fee caps for certain card transactions. 

On Wednesday, the board voted to approve a final rule that would institute a 21-cent cap on interchange, or "swipe," fees, rather than the 12-cent cap initially proposed in December. Moreover, the Board delayed the effective date of the new regulations from July to October 1 in the face of intense lobbying campaigns by big banks, the NLBMDA said. The fees currently average 44-cents per transaction. Small financial institutions with assets under $10 billion will be exempt from the new caps.

"While the final cap does not provide the level of relief building material dealers were expecting, instituting a cap and increasing oversight of out-of-control swipe fees will still cushion the burden retailers bear in these challenging economic times for the housing industry," said Scott Lynch, NLBMDA executive VP.

Last year, Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) attached provisions to the financial industry reform legislation to direct the Federal Reserve to issue rules for "reasonable and proportional" fees for debit card transactions. NLBMDA joined other retailer groups in support of the Durbin amendment and filed comments in support of the Board's proposed rule in December. Grassroots lobbying by NLBMDA members helped defeat a recent Senate measure that would have delayed swipe fee relief by more than a year.

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