Although the 2015 football season officially opened last month, credit union advocates have been racking up legislative touchdowns since January.
From the beginning of the state legislative sessions, the credit union system stayed fully engaged and aligned. Credit union league governmental affairs and political specialists (GAPS), with assistance from CUNA’s advocacy team, have been winning offensive and defensive battles.
These state advocates worked tirelessly to enact bills to strengthen credit unions and provide flexibly to better serve members. Pro-credit union bills ranged from permitting credit unions to conduct prize-linked savings programs to authorizing compensation for credit union board members.
State advocates also worked relentlessly to defeat and amend measures harmful to credit unions, including bills prohibiting the collection of interchange fees on state and local taxes, and measures requiring proper insurance for transportation network company (TNC) drivers.
CUNA supported state advocates from Washington, D.C., by tracking nearly 2,000 state bills for trends and answering more than 110 requests for information by advocates in nearly every state.
★ State CU acts
Many credit union leagues placed improving state credit union laws at the top of their agendas this year. Leagues often will rely on CUNA’s Model Credit Union Act as a resource and guide for these legislative efforts.
Integral to this game plan is first gathering input from member credit unions and feedback from regulators. GAPS work to maintain the dual chartering system’s vitality and ensure the provisions of the state acts are as attractive as the federal act.
“A strong dual chartering system creates choices for credit unions and a balanced regulatory framework,” says Ryan Donovan, CUNA’s chief advocacy officer.
The Cooperative Credit Union Association (CCUA), representing credit unions in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island, successfully spearheaded an extensive update of the New Hampshire Credit Union Act.
The new credit union law:
CCUA assembled a working group comprised of the New Hampshire Banking Department, association members, and other interested stakeholders to draft and build a consensus for the broad-based bill.
“It’s our job to improve the operating environment for credit unions and that is what this bill does,” says Paul Gentile, CCUA’s president/CEO.
The association launched a similar effort to overhaul
Massachusetts’s credit union act this session and plans to update Rhode Island’s act in an upcoming session.
“Flexible and streamlined state acts that empower credit unions are vital to the success of Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island credit unions, and that’s our goal with each update,” Gentile says.
Like the CCUA, the Montana Credit Union Network (MCUN) led a coalition of credit unions to successfully update its state credit union act. The MCUN bill:
The Northwest Credit Union Association (NWCUA), representing credit unions in Oregon and Washington, successfully lobbied for updates as well.
In Oregon, credit unions can now provide directors reasonable compensation and no longer must require share accounts for members. In Washington, new rules address corporate governance and investments as well as the state regulator’s enforcement powers.
”The Governmental Affairs Committees in Oregon and Washington, and the credit union movement’s grassroots advocacy army, contributed to the success of the bills,” says Jennifer Wagner, NWCUA’s vice president, legislative advocacy.
★ Prize-linked savings
Leagues in Arkansas, Illinois, Minnesota, Oregon, and Virginia successfully championed prize-linked savings promotions.
These measures permit credit unions to hold promotional savings raffles or prize-linked savings programs to encourage members to save money.
“We’re very pleased with the language added to the Illinois Credit Union Act defining and explicitly allowing credit unions to engage in savings promotion raffles,” says Ashley Neibur, Illinois Credit Union League’s director of government relations. “This change in Illinois law will ensure that credit unions may lawfully incentivize credit union members to save money, and will foster a positive relationship between Illinois credit unions and the consumers they serve.”
NEXT: "Playing Defense"