Legislative Update for October 2012

November Elections

Having spent months rallying support for credit union-backed candidates and advocating for the passage of our MBL legislation, most of our current legislative priorities hinge on the upcoming Nov. 6 election.

Northwest Credit Union Association policy is to support the election of individuals who support the credit union movement, on a non-partisan basis.

We recognize that at any time, there are numerous worthy candidates for public office. Given that the Association is only able to devote finite resources to supporting candidates, maximizing the value received for the support given is crucial. Therefore, candidates are evaluated and priority is given to the candidate in a particular race who will be best able to effectively promote credit union goals and priorities. (For more details about the Association’s interviews with Washington political candidates, read this full report.)

Contributions to candidates are based upon a number of factors, including credit union experience, connection to a local credit union, past support of credit union issues, members of a key committee, likelihood of being placed on a key committee, leadership position, as well as electability and polling. The types of support given to candidates vary depending upon that candidate’s record, his or her interest in and influence over credit union issues, and the Association’s available resources.

For more information on the legislative priorities and progress for credit unions on a national level, read CUNA’s recaps from the second and third quarters of 2012:

Member Business Lending Legislation

After nearly seven months of coordinated credit union advocacy efforts, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid reiterated his commitment last month to giving the MBL bill a vote on the Senate floor during the lame-duck session. A vote is expected during the week of Nov. 26, and CUNA is working to coordinate one more significant advocacy push in the weeks leading up to that date, including calling for a national fly-in the week after Thanksgiving to make one more timely push with legislators.

According to CUNA President and CEO Bill Cheney, “this is our last and best chance to pass the member business lending [bill] in this Congress. We have been promised a vote, one that was reconfirmed as recently as yesterday. We must win the vote.”

The Association is organizing a small group of credit union advocates to travel to the nation’s capital for targeted meetings not only with Oregon and Washington Senators, but also with key House members in anticipation of a companion bill. For more details, read this full report.

Read more about member business lending legislation:

2012 NWCUA Convention and Annual Business Meeting

Convention was a resounding success, and political and legislative issues garnered a great deal of attention, including the announcement of the 2012 Credit Union Advocates of the Year: Spokane Media Federal Credit Union’s Debie Keesee and Northwest Community Credit Union’s Matt Purvis.

Read more about the legislative priorities advanced at Convention:

September Hike the Hill

Northwest credit union leaders flew to Washington, D.C. in early September for the fall Hike the Hill event. A key focus, the member business lending legislation known as the Credit Union Small-Business Jobs Act, got a boost on the House floor during the delegation’s visit when Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) spoke in support of H.R. 1418. For more details, read this full report.

Public Funds

Five Oregon credit unions submitted the required notice and paperwork with the Oregon State Treasury in October to allow them to accept and safely hold large public fund deposits. New collateral protection will allow credit unions to accept public deposits above the current $250,000 beginning April 1, 2013. For more details, read this full report.

CUNA Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC)

Scheduled for Feb. 24-28, 2013, the 2013 CUNA GAC will focus on the challenges and opportunities for credit unions presented by the agenda of the soon-to-be elected 113th Congress. Recently signed keynote speakers include legendary journalist Tom Brokaw and heralded writer Jean Chatzky. For more information and to register, visit gac.cuna.org or follow @CUNAverse and #CUNAGAC.

This year, the Northwest Credit Union Association (NWCUA) room block will once again be at the Grand Hyatt Washington located at 1000 H Street NW, Washington, D.C. 20001. The rate is set at $325 plus 14.5-percent tax.

For more details, read this full report.

NCUA Low-Income Designation

The NCUA sent a letter in August informing more than 1,000 credit unions that they are eligible for Low-Income Credit Union (LICU) designation through a newly established, simplified opt-in process. Read about the mixed reactions in the industry in this full report.

After announcing in September that a similar opt-in process may be extended to state-chartered credit unions, the NCUA board in October approved a 60-day extension of the deadline for credit unions to accept the LICU designation. For more details, read this full report.

Because many misconceptions still surround the LICU designation, CUNA is teaming with the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions (NFCDCU) to hose a three-part webinar series—free to CUNA-affiliated credit unions and Federation members—designed to inform credit unions about the benefits of the LICU designation.

The low-income designation recognizes the work credit unions do to provide access to affordable credit and financial services to people of modest means and provides regulatory powers that help increase institutional capacity to meet the needs of millions of consumers that currently don’t have access to credit union services.

The topics of the three-part series include:

All webinars begin at 11 a.m. PDT and are scheduled to last 90 minutes.

Regulatory Advocacy Update

The NWCUA remains vigilant on the regulatory front, working closely with regulators, government agencies and legislators to monitor and ease the regulatory burden. Read the following reports for a detailed account of our recent activity:

Credit Union Advocates on the Move

Credit union advocates are participating at every level of our political advocacy process. By demonstrating our interest in campaigns and elections, credit union professionals, volunteers and members can make sure that candidates understand our issues and structure and gain an appreciation of the political abilities of the credit union movement. Even in races in which the credit union-supported loses the election, we have still made important progress, as credit unions will have further established their reputation for being actively involved in the political process. We must be seen as an active, viable, and important constituency.

Here is some of the most recent activity:

  • Spokane Media Federal Credit Union President and CEO Debie Keesee published an op-ed in The Hill, a Washington, D.C.-based publication considered a must-read for lawmakers, outlining credit unions’ need for supplemental capital. Keesee’s piece was published in the afternoon on Thursday, Oct. 18. Read the full article here.
  • Valley Credit Union’s Stephen Pagenstecher and his wife hosted Rep. Alissa Keny-Guyer, a democrat representing Oregon’s House District 46, which encompasses parts of northeast and southeast Portland. Keny-Guyer spent nearly an hour discussing issues with community members and was presented with a PAC check.
  • The Southwest Chapter of Credit Unions hosted 15 candidates for office at its annual legislative dinner on Oct. 1. For more details, read this full report.
  • Oregon credit unions hosted a Town Hall with Rep. Suzanne Bonamici at First Tech Federal Credit Union on Sept. 25. For more details, read this full report.
  • Ten credit union advocates in Oregon’s Lane County spent a day meeting with candidates and legislators on Sept. 24. For more details, read this full report.

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