Across the Dakotas, credit union advocates scarcely took a break for the holidays. Their efforts ranged from a national Hike the Hill visit to a fast-paced series of local presentations across South Dakota.
Advocacy ramped up in early November as a 12-member delegation from North and South Dakota visited both the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and NCUA offices in Washington, D.C.
“Regulatory issues will affect credit unions’ future at least as much as legislative issues,” notes Credit Union Association of the Dakotas (CUAD) President/CEO Robbie Thompson. “The impact is bigger than in the past,” he adds, “and we took an assertive approach on this visit.”
Meeting with CFPB representatives, delegates conveyed the challenges presented by proposed new mortgage rules.
“We expressed to CFPB how difficult it will be for all credit unions to comply with the mortgage rules, and in particular to comply by the January deadline,” says Thompson.
At NCUA, the delegation highlighted the challenges credit unions face during examinations, as well as the need for regulatory relief provisions such as raising the exemption threshold for appraisals on higher-priced loans, and raising the current 15% cap on development and construction loans.
The delegation also met with Sens. John Hoeven, R-N.D.; Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D.; John Thune, R-S.D.; and Tim Johnson, D-S.D., focusing on three issues—preserving the credit union tax status, reforming privacy notification regulations, and maintaining credit union access to the secondary mortgage markets.
In November and December, South Dakota credit unions scored early victories as various city and county commissions voted to table or take no action on the South Dakota Bankers Association’s “Equalization in Taxation” resolution.
During the past several months, a group of South Dakota banks had been promoting a statewide effort imploring local lawmakers to impose taxes on not-for-profit credit unions.
The objective was to gain support from local taxing authorities to echo bankers’ calls to repeal the tax exemption, and to amplify that call to state and federal policymakers.
In Yankton, Vermillion, and other localities, CUAD staff and credit union representatives mounted an active defense of the current credit union tax status.
“What we know to be true is that when we tell our story, we win,” says Jeff Olson, CUAD vice president of advocacy and awareness. “No voices are stronger than those of our own credit union CEOs, managers, employees, and volunteers.”
The association has asked South Dakota credit union leaders to remain vigilant in scanning local school board, city, and county commission agendas for more bank-sponsored resolutions to tax credit unions and farm credit institutions.
Unite for Good
Credit unions remove barriers by actively participating in grassroots activities and the political process—one of the objectives of the national Unite for Good campaign. Across the country, advocates are working toward the goal in which Americans choose credit unions as their best financial partner.
With tax season upon consumers once again, it’s also when they are most vulnerable to tax refund fraud. Since the methods for tax refund distribution generally go through financial institution, credit unions can battle tax refund fraud.