Credit unions could be spotted in every single Congressional building on Capitol Hill Wednesday as more than 5,200 credit union leaders visited with elected officials to tell stories about the credit union difference. The visits are an annual tradition that is part of the CUNA Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC).
Credit unions from across America spent the day discussing the numerous issues and concerns. Specific issues raised in nearly every meeting included data security and privacy, the current expected credit loss (CECL) standard, Telephone Consumer Protection Act reform and the Consumer Financial Protection Financial Bureau.
“Data breaches at retailers is a major concern, especially because there are a lot of companies out there that collect our data and then just hold onto it,” said Dennis Tanimoto, president of the Hawaii Credit Union League.
One small credit union leader told Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) that in the last month alone his credit union had spent $26,000 to replace compromised payment cards.
A general message of all meetings was regulatory relief: credit unions asked legislators to keep them in mind when crafting laws.
“Our state alone brought a very diverse group, there’s a credit union here with 6,400 members and another with 75,000 members,” said Steve Webb, president/CEO of Neighbors FCU, Baton Rouge, La. “Any piece of legislation that helps one of us, helps all of us.”
On the other side of that coin, Mia Perez, chief administrative officer at Louisiana FCU, La Place, La., told Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) that the end result of regulatory burden ultimately results in time and resources going to paperwork, instead of member service.
Equally as important as the issue discussions were stories about the credit union difference.
“Louisiana has 1.2 million credit union members, and that means there are 1.2 million stories worth hearing in our state alone about what credit unions mean to people,” said Pamela Stelly, CEO of Maple FCU, Lafayette, La.
The Credit Union Association of New Mexico made sure to visit Rep. Deb Haaland (D-N.M.), a freshman legislator, the first Native American woman elected to Congress and a strong supporter of credit unions.
“We supported her candidacy, she has attended our annual meeting and she held a roundtable with our CEO’s,” said Paul Stull, president/CEO of CUANM. “She also invited CUANM to attend her town hall for furloughed federal workers. She is a real friend of credit unions.”
The government shutdown was still fresh on everyone’s minds, both from credit unions and legislators. Many legislators said they were fully aware of the services credit unions performed for thousands of affected workers, and for those who weren’t, credit unions provided example after example about how they helped their communities.
Members of the Credit Union Association of the Dakotas told Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) and Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.) that their members found the shutdown “stressful and demoralizing,” but were grateful that their credit unions stepped up to help.
But credit unions were also able to demonstrate that their service to communities isn’t limited to extreme circumstances like an extended government shutdown, it happens every day.
Chris Williams, president/CEO of Henrico FCU, Richmond, Va., during a visit with staff of Rep. Donald McEachin (R-Va.), told them about Henrico’s high-school branches that feature youth accounts and $100 credit-building loans.
►Read more conference coverage from CUNA News, and get live updates on Twitter via @CUNA_News,@cumagazine, @CUNA, and by using the #CUNAGAC hashtag. You can also follow the conference on Facebook and Instagram. For a complete schedule and information on keynote speakers and breakout sessions, visit the CUNA GAC event page.