10-20-2019  6:59 am   •   PDX Weather    •   SEA weather  
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NORTHWEST NEWS

Washington State to Vote on Affirmative Action Referendum

More than two decades after voters banned affirmative action, the question of whether one's minority status should be considered in state employment, contracting, colleges admissions is back on the ballot

Merkley Introduces Legislation that Protects Access to Health Care for Those Who Cannot Afford Bail

Under current law, individuals in custody who have not been convicted of a crime are denied Medicare, Medicaid, and veterans’ benefits

New County Hire Aims to Build Trust, Transparency Between Community and Public Safety Officials

Leneice Rice will serve as a liaison focused on documenting and reporting feedback from a community whose faith in law enforcement has been tested

Hank Willis Thomas Exhibit Opens at Portland Art Museum

One of the most important conceptual artists of our time, his works examine the representation of race and the politics of visual culture

NEWS BRIEFS

GFO Offers African Americans Help in Solving Family Mysteries

The Genealogical Forum of Oregon is holding an African American Special Interest Group Saturday, Oct. 19 ...

Third Annual NAMC-WA Gala Features Leader on Minority Business Development

The topic of the Washington Chapter of the National Association of Minority Contractors' event was 'Community and Collaboration' ...

Building Bridges Event Aims to Strengthen Trust Between Communities

The 4th Annual Building Bridges of Understanding in Our Communities: Confronting Hate will be held in Tigard on...

The Black Man Project Kicks Off National Tour in Seattle

The first in a series of interactive conversations focused on Black men and vulnerability takes place in Seattle on October 25 ...

Protesters Rally in Ashland to Demand 'Impeach Trump Now'

Activists are rallying in Ashland Sunday Oct, 13 to demand impeachment proceedings ...

Video shows coach disarming, embracing Oregon student

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Authorities have released a video that shows part of a former Oregon football star's successful effort to disarm a student who brought a shotgun to a Portland high school.The video released Friday by the Multnomah County District Attorney's Office shows Keanon Lowe and...

Parents guilty of starving 5-year-old daughter to death

BEND, Ore. (AP) — A jury has convicted a Redmond couple of starving their 5-year-old adopted daughter to death.The Bulletin reports by unanimous jury verdicts Friday after a weekslong trial, Sacora Horn-Garcia and Estevan Garcia were found guilty of murder by abuse and criminal...

Vaughn scores twice, Vandy upsets No. 22 Missouri 21-14

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Derek Mason wants it known he's the best coach for the Vanderbilt Commodores.Riley Neal came off the bench and threw a 21-yard touchdown to Cam Johnson with 8:57 left, and Vanderbilt upset No. 22 Missouri 21-14 on Saturday with a stifling defensive...

No. 22 Missouri heads to Vandy, 1st road trip since opener

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Missouri coach Barry Odom knows only too well the dangers of going on the road and how a few mistakes can prove very costly.While some of his players my not remember that stunning loss at Wyoming to open this season, Odom hasn't forgotten."We're going to treat it just...

OPINION

Atatiana Jefferson, Killed by Police Officer in Her Own Home

Atatiana Jefferson, a biology graduate who worked in the pharmaceutical industry and was contemplating becoming a doctor, lived a life of purpose that mattered ...

“Hell No!” That Is My Message to Those Who Would Divide Us 

Upon release from the South African jail, Nelson Mandela told UAW Local 600 members “It is you who have made the United States of America a superpower, a leader of the world" ...

Rep. Janelle Bynum Issues Response to the Latest Statement from Clackamas Town Center

State legislator questions official response after daughter questioned for ‘loitering’ in parking lot ...

Why Would HUD Gut Its Own Disparate Impact Rule?

"You can’t expand housing rights by limiting civil protections. The ’D’ in HUD doesn’t stand for ‘Discrimination’" ...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

New Emmett Till marker dedicated to replace vandalized sign

GLENDORA, Miss. (AP) — A new bulletproof memorial to Emmett Till was dedicated Saturday in Mississippi after previous historical markers were repeatedly vandalized.The brutal slaying of the 14-year-old black teenager helped spur the civil rights movement more than 60 years ago.The...

Parents sue Virginia school district over racist 2017 video

HENRICO, Va. (AP) — The parents of a Virginia student who say their son was assaulted and bullied by his middle school football teammates in an incident captured on video two years ago are suing the school system.The video, which showed football players simulating sex acts on black students...

Team abandons FA Cup qualifier after racial abuse

LONDON (AP) — An FA Cup qualifier between Haringey Borough and Yeovil was abandoned Saturday when the home team walked off the field after one of its players was racially abused.Haringey, a London-based non-league club, walked off in the 64th minute after claims its Cameroonian goalkeeper...

ENTERTAINMENT

Adam Lambert: Happy to see more LGBTQ artists find success

NEW YORK (AP) — Adam Lambert, who rose on the music scene as the runner-up on "America Idol" in 2009, says he's happy to see more mainstream LGBTQ artists find major success."I think it's less taboo to be queer in the music industry now because there's so many cases you can point to like,...

Jane Fonda returns to civil disobedience for climate change

WASHINGTON (AP) — Inspired by the climate activism of a Swedish teenager, Jane Fonda says she's returning to civil disobedience nearly a half-century after she was last arrested at a protest.Fonda, known for her opposition to the Vietnam War, was one of 17 climate protesters arrested Friday...

Naomi Wolf and publisher part ways amid delay of new book

NEW YORK (AP) — Naomi Wolf and her U.S. publisher have split up amid a dispute over her latest book, "Outrages."Wolf and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt announced separately Friday that they had "mutually and amicably agreed to part company" and that Houghton would not be releasing "Outrages."...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

Where you die can affect your chance of being an organ donor

WASHINGTON (AP) — If Roland Henry had died in a different part of the country, his organs might have been...

Impeachment inquiry puts spotlight on Perry, who shunned it

WASHINGTON (AP) — Long after more flamboyant colleagues flamed out of President Donald Trump's favor amid...

Analysis: Confronted by impeachment, Trump adds to the chaos

WASHINGTON (AP) — The impeachment investigation into President Donald Trump has thrust Washington into a...

Italian experts defuse WWII bomb in northern city

MILAN (AP) — Italian authorities have evacuated 4,000 people from the center of the northern city of...

Bolivians pick between Evo Morales and change in tight vote

LA PAZ, Bolivia (AP) — South America's longest-serving leader was seeking an unprecedented fourth term in...

15 dead after Russian dam collapse floods dormitories

MOSCOW (AP) — At least 15 people are dead after a dam at a small Siberian gold mine collapsed and water...

McMenamins
Eileen Aj Connelly AP Personal Finance Writer

NEW YORK (AP) -- A proposed cap on the fees that banks charge for debit card transactions would substantially reduce the cost for businesses. But it's started a death watch for debit card rewards and renewed predictions that free checking is done for.

At issue is who will ultimately benefit from the savings? The Federal Reserve's proposal to cap these fees, officially known as interchange fees, at 12 cents per transaction would enable retailers to pass on annual savings of $10 billion to $13 billion to consumers. But banks and card networks maintain that retailers will pocket the saving s. This would leave consumers to bear the brunt of the new law through higher costs for banking and reduced rewards programs.

In releasing its proposal this month, Fed staff said they found the cost to banks for processing is between 7 cents and 12 cents per transaction. Yet every time a customer swipes a debit card, the average fee is 44 cents.

"The banks have a very sweet deal here," said Sen. Dick Durbin, who sponsored the provision in the financial regulatory overhaul that ordered the Fed to set rules on these fees. The Illinois Democrat acknowledged that the legislation does not require merchants to share any cost reductions with customers, but said they're likely to benefit at the checkout.

"The retailer who is in competition with the restaurant around the corner is going to use this as an opportunity to lower prices," Durbin said, comparing the swipe fee reduction to a business tax cut.

If implemented, slashing interchange rates would be another revenue hit for banks. They're already dealing with increased costs linked to other regulations in the financial overhaul, plus restrictions on overdraft fees and credit cards.

Shawn Miles, group head of public policy for MasterCard Inc., said banks will have to compensate for the loss of revenue by adjusting the fees they charge consumers. "That's the only way they could deal with something that was this dramatic," he said. Wall Street and the banking industry were expecting the proposed cut would call for fee cuts of no more than 60 percent. The proposal is close to a 73 percent cut.

"A very large percent of the consumers in the U.S. have access to low- or no- cost checking accounts and debit cards that give them ubiquitous access to their funds," said Bill Sheedy, the head of Visa Inc.'s operations in the Americas. "You can't squeeze the balloon and assume that the changes being proposed by the Fed won't have a negative impact on how the industry operates."

Banks may see another, indirect, impact if debit fees are lowered so sharply. Analyst Burt Flickinger of Strategic Resource Group suggested many retailers will encourage consumers to use their debit cards instead of credit cards, which carry higher interchange fees that are not addressed in the law.

Industry watchers predict banks will respond by trying to make up at least some of the lost merchant revenue from consumers. Among the possibilities they are expected to test out:

-- Explicit fees for debit cards, maintenance fees on the checking accounts the cards are linked to and the elimination of debit rewards programs.

Debit rewards programs are funded by interchange fees, said Bart Narter, a banking analyst with the consultant Celent. "Rewards are if not dead, then very, very sick, because funding for rewards just shriveled."

Others suggest that rewards programs won't disappear, they'll simply change.

-- More programs may be funded by merchants, rather than banks. There's already a trend toward merchant-funded rewards programs with popular coupon and deal programs like Groupon and Living Social, noted Jonathan Silver, CEO of Affinity Solutions, which administers about 400 rewards and loyalty programs, about 60 percent of which are linked to debit cards.

-- Another option could be programs linked to other accounts at the same bank, like Citibank's "Thank You" program, which offers rewards for banking activity and credit card use in addition to debit card use; or Bank of America's "Keep the Change," program, which shifts money into a savings account when a debit card is used. "If they get customer centric, they can reward you elsewhere," said Brian Riley, a bank card analyst for the consultant TowerGroup. "They have the ability to be more flexible."

Supporters of the lower fees say the loss of debit rewards won't be that painful. The programs are not that widespread. Only about 16 percent of checking accounts have programs, and an estimated 30 to 50 percent of rewards are left unused.

"We were never getting debit card usage for free, it was just a pretense," said David Balto, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, a left-leaning think tank. The price of interchange was simply hidden from customers because they didn't see it added to the costs of what they purchased, he said.

In countries such as Canada, where there are no interchange fees, Balto said, there are fees on bank accounts. "It's better for consumers to pay a transparent price than a hidden price."

Customers of smaller banks and credit unions may also feel a negative impact from the regulation even though smaller institutions are left out of the law and won't face a cap on their fees. "The legislation says we are carved out, but there's no real enforcement provisions," said Bill Cheney, CEO of the Credit Union National Association.

While a two-tier system with higher interchange fees for small banks may result from the regulation, that creates a new set of concerns, he said. One fear is that if small banks and credit unions charge higher fees, merchants may shun their cards. If small institutions find they have to shift to the lower fees, the revenue loss would be significant, and would have to be made up from customers, Cheney said. "The last thing that credit unions want to do is raise their fees."



AP Retail Writer Sarah Skidmore in Portland contributed to this report.

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