Oregon Credit Union Advocates Brief Senator Merkley in Preparation for Regulatory Hearing

Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) with Carrie Wood, President/CEO of Timberland Federal Credit Union. (Photo: CUNA)

In preparation for a Senate hearing on the impact of regulatory burden on financial institutions, Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley’s office connected with two credit unions serving members in rural Oregon, asking them to share the on-the-ground impacts of these regulations.

“Credit unions across Oregon play a critical role in supporting our small businesses and rural economies,” said Senator Merkley. “I appreciated hearing the credit union perspective at our hearing last week, and will continue working to pass sensible regulatory reforms for our community credit unions.”

Senator Merkley is the ranking member of the Senate Banking Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Protection, the subcommittee before which the hearing—titled “The State of Rural Banking: Challenges and Consequences”—took place.

“Washington D.C. is a world away from our members in rural Oregon,” said Rogue Credit Union President and CEO Gene Pelham, who briefed Merkley’s staff in preparation for the hearing. “Legislation that is meant to protect consumers can actually end up hindering them from getting the services they need. That’s why it’s important for our legislators to get on-the-ground perspective from credit unions like Rogue, which serve these members every day. I was honored to be asked to brief Senator Merkley’s office on the real world impacts of the current regulatory environment and what might be done to improve it.”

Kyle Frick, VP of Marketing at Mid Oregon Credit Union, also briefed the Senator’s staff and said they were very receptive to his insights, and very interested in the credit union’s community service.

“I shared with Senator Merkley’s office some of the ways in which CFPB oversight and several other regulatory hurdles are burdensome and take resources away from serving our members,” said Frick. “They appreciated our front-line perspective on the challenges that burdensome regulations create in serving a large rural area with a relatively low population. And they took a deep interest in the ways in which Mid Oregon and other credit unions serve and impact our communities.”

Northwest Credit Union Association SVP of Advocacy Jennifer Wagner said that this sort of engagement is critical to the Credit Union Movement. “This was a great example of credit unions helping to shape the policy discussion,” she said. “As Senator Merkley and his colleagues put together a regulatory relief package, the input provided through this hearing and through our continued conversations with the Senator’s office will play a big role.”

Carrie Wood, President and CEO of Timberland Federal Credit Union in Pennsylvania, testified about the effects of regulatory burden on her small credit union. CUNA and the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association helped prep Wood before the hearing, meeting with her all day Tuesday to go over testimony at CUNA’s Washington, D.C., office.

CUNA also submitted a letter for the record for the subcommittee hearing, showing that American consumers cannot afford non-action on the crisis that is the regulatory burden facing credit unions.

“We are confident that if barriers are removed, credit union members will be better off than they are today, because their credit unions will be spending less resources on complying with outdated, poorly focused and unreasonably burdensome regulation, and more on meeting the financial services needs of their members,” CUNA’s letter reads. “We stand ready to work with you to remove these barriers.”

The letter outlines a number of steps Congress and the Senate specifically can take to help ease the burdens on credit unions and other small financial institutions.

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

Posted in Advocacy News.