Hike the Hill: Northwest Credit Unions Make Impact in D.C.

Ten credit union leaders from Oregon and Washington, including three credit union board members, flew to Washington, D.C. last week for two days of wall-to-wall meetings with senators, members of Congress, and federal regulators for Hike the Hill.

The delegation met with every senator and member of Congress representing the two states, as well as National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) Board Chair Debbie Matz and NCUA Board Member Mark McWatters.

In their meetings at the Capitol the delegation discussed the NCUA’s proposed rule on member business lending (MBL), emphasizing the increased value credit unions could offer American small businesses and clearing up misinformation delivered by competitors.

They also highlighted Senator Wyden’s recently introduced bill to give credit unions parity on the classification of certain non-owner occupied loans, which would further open up capital for credit unions to lend to small businesses in their communities.

With each senator and representative they emphasized the importance of regulatory relief and the importance of passing pending legislation to lighten the regulatory burden on credit unions, which has strong bipartisan support.

“We delivered a focused message to our legislators in Washington, D.C.,” said Rick Hein, CEO of Oregon State Credit Union. “Our representatives in both halls of Congress know the importance of credit unions, and we appreciate their continued work to allow credit unions to create more value for our members and our communities.”

On the regulatory front, the delegates thanked NCUA Chair Matz, the Board, and staff for the MBL proposal to remove prescriptive barriers to member business lending, and for listening to Northwest credit unions’ call to continue to allow states to interpret their own rules. They also expressed their appreciation for the agency’s agreement to open up the Overhead Transfer Rate to public comment in January.

They discussed a wide range of other issues, including continuing the dialogue on an 18-month exam cycle for healthy credit unions, the unintended consequences of a recent declaratory ruling by the Federal Communications Commission, which impacts how credit unions contact their members, and specific options they would like the administration to include when they propose a supplemental capital rule.

“We brought the message loud and clear to our NCUA regulators that regulatory relief for credit unions is good for the American people,” said Brooke Van Vleet, President/CEO of St. Helens Community Credit Union. “We appreciate the strides that have already been taken by the agency this year, and we encouraged them on several key issues that affect our credit unions every day. Earlier this year Chair Matz called 2015 the Year of Regulatory Relief, and we are hopeful that our input will help move the NCUA further in that direction.”

Legislative and regulatory advocacy are key to clearing the way for credit unions to provide the most value for their members and communities, said Jennifer Wagner, Senior Vice President of Advocacy for the Northwest Credit Union Association.

“There is nothing more powerful than our legislators and regulators hearing directly from credit union leaders about how decisions made, or not made, in the Beltway impact their credit unions’ ability to create value for their members and communities,” said Wagner. “We greatly appreciate the investment of our delegates to make the trip such a big success.”

Questions about this story? Contact James Pearson: 206.340.4790, jpearson@nwcua.org.

Posted in NCUA.