Oregon Governor Kitzhaber: “Credit Unions Epitomize Something Great”

When John Kitzhaber was a medical student, “Doernbecher was just two floors” at Oregon Health & Science University.

Now, of course, Doernbecher Children’s Hospital is consistently ranked among the best children’s hospitals in the nation, and John Kitzhaber is the Governor of Oregon who appears headed to win election to an unprecedented fourth term.

During a luncheon hosted by the Northwest Credit Union Association Monday, Kitzhaber marveled at how important the hospital has become. He was invited by Northwest credit union leaders to learn more about how much Credit Unions for Kids has done for Doernbecher since it was founded in this region in 1986.

“We feel very proud of the Northwest founders for their vision,” said Kelly Schrader, senior vice president and chief operations officer for OnPoint Community Credit Union. Schrader told the Governor that credit unions have raised at least $10 million for Doernbecher alone.

“My hat is off to this incredible institution,” said Gov. Kitzhaber.

The Governor also tipped his hat to the credit union community. Credit unions, he said, “epitomize something great in this country: community and commitment to one another.”

“You give back in ways large and small,” he continued, “to make Oregon a much better place.”


Looking ahead to the 2015 legislative session

When asked what he foresees in the coming legislative session that will concern financial institutions, Kitzhaber without hesitation said “access to capital.”  He pointed out that small businesses are the engines driving the economy and that they need access to capital, even in the form of small loans.

This was well-received by attendees, because credit unions already have federal legislation pending  that would allow them to make more Member Business Loans.  Taking action in the state legislature could potentially bring a solution to state-chartered credit unions sooner.

Kitzhaber also acknowledged credit unions have a serious challenge providing banking for legal marijuana businesses, because despite guidance issued by the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) earlier this year, federal law and extra red tape still complicate the process.

The Governor advised credit unions to “get on the radar screen in 2015 with the appropriate committees.” Kitzhaber noted, “We need to have that conversation.”

Editor’s note: Please contact Pamela Leavitt, Northwest Credit Union Association policy advisor for Oregon State advocacy and grassroots issues.

Posted in Advocacy News.