With Washington, D.C., serving as the home of the federal government, credit union Hike the Hills offer a unique opportunity to present the credit union difference to legislators and regulators. This week, the Ohio Credit Union League (OCUL) was one of 6 leagues in Washington, D.C., and had a packed schedule that included congressional meetings, as well as meetings with the leadership of the NCUA and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).
"Advocacy is job one for the league/CUNA system, and we were proud to lead a group of 50 credit union leaders representing 30 credit unions to Washington to advocate for meaningful regulatory relief,” said Patrick Harris, OCUL vice president for government affairs. “Our message was infused with credit union philosophy, which allowed us to collectively differentiate ourselves from big banks and expose the flaws in the 'one-size-fits-all' regulatory approach."
On Tuesday, the group dined at Credit Union House, and flew in Ohio State Rep. Rob McColley for dinner. They discussed key races in the state of Ohio and ways to keep credit union priorities on legislators' minds going forward.
On Wednesday, the group started with a breakfast briefing from CUNA Deputy Chief Advocacy Officer Elizabeth Eurgubian and Associate Director of Advocacy Kristin Eagan. Eurgubian discussed ways credit unions could make the most out of their meetings with regulators, while Eagan highlighted some of CUNA’s legislative priorities and strategies.
The group then spent the morning meeting with NCUA Chair Rick Metsger at the agency’s Alexandria, Va., headquarters.
Their mid-day meal, back in the Capitol area, also featured a CUNA briefing, this one from Vice President of Political Affairs Trey Hawkins on the upcoming election, both from the presidential side and on major Ohio races.
After lunch, the group proceeded to meet with CFPB Director Richard Cordray, where Ohio credit unions told him about consumer-friendly products that would be adversely affected by the bureau’s short-term, small-dollar loan proposal.
“It’s so easy to complain about all the rules and regulations that make all of our lives harder and cost our members services because of the enormous expense of over regulations, but making the effort and going to the expense to be present in Washington, D.C., and tell our stories in front of the folks who make the rules just seems the right thing to do,” said Barb Harper, president/CEO of Cincinnati Ohio Police FCU, Cincinnati.
This was Harper’s second Hike the Hill visit to Washington, D.C.
The group spent Thursday morning splitting up for meetings with more than a dozen Ohio legislators.
“I believe that our presence and our collective voice to our congressmen and women makes a difference,” Harper said. “We have the opportunity to share the real stories of our members and how we make the ‘credit union difference’ in the financial sector. We set ourselves apart because of the members we serve and the way we choose to do business.”
Harper added that she returned to Cincinnati Ohio Police FCU with a “renewed sense of purpose and energy,” and that she looks forward to bringing a bigger group to D.C. next year.
For more Hike the Hill moments from other state credit union leagues, click the Storify below.