WASHINGTON (3/12/15)--The halls and streets of Capitol Hill were filled with thousands of credit union leaders throughout this week, and especially Wednesday, as the credit union message was brought to members of Congress on both side of the Capitol, as well as their key staff. The outreach effort was launched in conjunction with CUNA's 2015 Governmental Affairs Conference, held here March 8-12.
The credit union leaders came ready to discuss a host of advocacy issues, including reducing regulatory burden, improving cybersecurity, data breach notification, raising the member business lending cap, and--the No. 1 advocacy item--preserving credit unions' not-for-profit tax status.
The state credit union leagues and their member credit unions provided a massive "boots-on-the-ground" advocacy effort to ensure that the legislators and their staff are also well informed about the credit union difference--that credit unions are not-for-profit financial institutions that operate under the motto of "people helping people."
|Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), left, with Charles Elliott, president/CEO, Mississippi Credit Union Association, provides Mississippi credit unions with an overview of his current agenda, including work on the latest budget and flood insurance. In turn, credit unions shared their concerns with Wicker, outlining such issues as data security and credit unions' not-for-profit tax status. (CUNA Photo)|
Regulatory relief highlighted many discussions, with a number of individual credit union representatives sharing personal anecdotes about having to withhold services or discontinue products due to regulatory burden that absorbs too many resources.
Several credit unions near the statutory member business lending cap of 12.25% of assets talked about having to turn away potential borrowers, and of being unable to recommend other credit unions because they too were approaching the cap.
Others said numerous compliance burdens, such as new mortgage rules, have forced them to hire costly staff that doesn't enhance serving the members--they are completely tied to tracking and ensuring compliance. Another said they stopped offering home equity loans due to these burdens, while others have been forced to alter their no-fee pricing structures just to break even.
Data security was another hot button issue brought up by many credit unions on the Hill. A number of them spoke of the reputational risk that comes with not being allowed to name the merchant that caused the breach, leading members, and in some cases the media, to believe that no answer is tantamount to admitting fault.
For credit unions with members in different states, the patchwork of state data breach notification laws can make notification very difficult, which is why CUNA, along with the leagues and credit unions, are pushing for a pre-empting national standard.
The House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on commerce, manufacturing and trade announced a hearing Wednesday that will feature a discussion of a draft Data Security and Breach Notification Act of 2015. Witnesses will be announced at a later date, and the hearing is scheduled for March 17 at 10 a.m. (ET).
The text of the bill will be released in advance of the hearing.