Protecting the Charter

This legislative session, the Oregon Bankers Association put together a targeted anti-credit union effort, based on the work done by an anti-credit union task force established last summer. As part of that effort, they hired a colleague, Marvin Umholtz, to write a “report” on credit unions and an opinion piece for the Oregonian. Finally, they introduced three anti-credit union bills in the Oregon Legislature (HB2484, 2485, and 2486) aimed at taxing many credit unions and implementing new burdensome regulations. Not one of their three bills received a hearing in the Oregon Legislature even after some editorials called for at least a hearing. The three bills would have been harmful to Oregon credit unions in several ways:

HB2484 – Would have required credit union to file periodic reports with Director of Department of Consumer and Business Services that summarize number and amount of member business loans and certain other loans, that describe services credit union provides to people with low and moderate incomes and that list total amount of deposits credit union holds at main office and at locations where credit union accepts deposits.

HB2485 – Would have provided that credit unions had continuing and affirmative obligation to help meet credit needs of community in which credit union has offices or branches. Requires Director of Department of Consumer and Business Services to adopt rules to govern nature and scope of credit union’s obligation. Provides that director must consider federal regulations that implement federal Community Reinvestment Act in adopting rules.

HB2486 – Would have imposed corporate excise tax on state-chartered credit unions and interstate credit unions holding one or more deposits of public funds that exceed $250,000 or holding commercial loans that in aggregate exceed amount equal to 10 percent of credit union assets.

The Northwest Credit Union Association will continue to work during the legislative interim to educate our elected officials on the value of the credit union charter and the importance of credit unions in their communities. In fact, last February, results of our voter poll suggest that the tactics of an anti-credit union task force formed by the Oregon Bankers’ Association are likely to be unpopular with voters. According to the survey:

  • Ninety percent of Oregon voters and 88 percent of Washington voters have a positive impression of credit unions. In Washington, 43 percent of voters think unfavorably of banks, and 38 percent of Oregon voters feel the same way.
  • Seventy percent of Oregon voters and 68 percent of Washington voters agree that credit unions should not have to pay business or occupational taxes because of their not-for-profit model.
  • When asked specifically which side they would take if a disagreement between banks and credit unions erupted in Congress or in their state legislature, 71 percent of voters in both Oregon and Washington indicated they would side with credit unions.
  • Oregon’s tax officials estimate the bank lobby’s legislation could generate between $1 million and $4 million dollars per year. However, the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) reports that Oregon’s working-class credit union members saved a collective $121 million in direct benefits during the 12-month period ending in September 2012.

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