CU-backed bills become law in Ga., Minn., Mont., Neb.

May 16, 2017

Credit union-supported bills in Georgia, Minnesota, Montana and Nebraska have been signed into law in recent days, continuing the momentum for state-level credit union advocacy. The bills help improve credit union operations, alleviate compliance burdens, and allow for consumer-friendly products.

Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts signed a bill this week that updates Nebraska’s State Credit Union Act with clarifications and elimination of outdated and unnecessary sections.

Amendments to the Nebraska State Credit Union Act include:

  • Credit unions would be permitted to purchase the assets and liabilities of other financial institutions;
  • Adding a definition of “financial institution” and amending the definition of a “fixed asset” to adhere with generally accepted accounting principles;
  • Adding that the director of the Nebraska Department of Banking and Finance shall notify an application for a credit union of a decision within the 120-day period that the director has to make the decision; and
  • Allowing joint account holders to be full members if they meet membership requirements as described in the credit union’s bylaws.

In Montana, Gov. Steve Bullock signed SB 25, which allows credit unions and financial institutions to implement prize-linked savings (PLS) accounts.

“For families who are financially constrained, setting aside money for savings can be a source of anxiety and stress. PLS accounts can lift the burden, making saving manageable and offering a cash incentive that actually makes saving fun,” says Carin McClain, political advocacy director at Montana’s Credit Unions.

PLS programs are currently offered in 21 states and have a proven track record of improving the financial stability and saving habits of consumers.

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal signed a bill earlier this month backed by Georgia’s credit unions.

Credit union-friendly provisions in the bill include:

  • Creating flexibility and enhancements in the audit provisions for smaller credit unions by permitting different forms of audits to be held on a case-by-case basis;
  • Modifying the law governing merger votes;
  • Outlining that businesses headquartered within the field of membership may be eligible for membership in the same manner as a person;
  • Adding "working" to the eligible criteria for field of membership when an individual is working in the approved geographic area;
  • Improving the law that governs fixed assets and real estate property held by the credit union;
  • Outlining the ability of financial institutions to charge a convenience fee; 
  • Permitting the regulator to include third-party providers in its examinations; and
  • Streamlining the calculation for lending limits.

In Minnesota, Gov. Mark Dayton also recently signed legislation that permits credit union members to vote for directors, credit and supervisory committee members and amendments to bylaws by any verifiable means. Current law requires members to vote either in-person or by mail.