2016: The Year of the Credit Union Advocate

“Imagine that every contributing and engaged credit union member is one more voice in helping to protect and advance the Credit Union Movement,” said Troy Stang, President and CEO of the Northwest Credit Union Association.

In a recent interview with CUNA’s News Now, he commented that the “next great thing for credit unions is 100% advocacy engagement 100% of the time.” Advocacy, he noted, should be a part of every credit union’s organizational mission. 

2015 Was an Effective Year for Credit Union Advocates

Let 2016 begin as the Year of the Advocate. Grassroots advocates certainly led by example in 2015, helping to advance the charter on a number of levels.  More than 500 credit union advocates messaged the credit union difference at face-to-face meetings with all elected state legislators or key staffers in Oregon and Washington, as well as with Northwest federal legislators during three trips to Washington, D.C.

Noted wins and charter enhancements included legislation allowing credit unions to offer prize-linked savings accounts and Credit Union Act improvements in Oregon, and credit union governance updates resulting in simpler, clearer board duties in Washington.  In addition, Washington legislators granted requests for a hearing to discuss the need for supplemental capital – an important development advancing the conversation.

On the federal level, 15 credit union provisions were included in Senate Banking Committee’s regulatory relief bill, setting the stage for regulatory relief in the coming year and beyond. The House Committee’s passage of the Data Security Act of 2015 laid the groundwork for broader Congressional backing of the credit union movement’s push to hold retailers equally responsible for data breach activity.    

Looking Ahead

“Short” sessions this year still afford credit union advocates opportunities to message legislators in Olympia and in Salem, notes Jennifer Wagner, Senior Vice President, Advocacy, NWCUA.  Robust participation by Northwest credit unions in state issues Working Groups and Governmental Affairs Committees helped to inform the agenda for 2016 and 2017, she noted.

Washington Credit Union Day at the Capitol is scheduled for February 4 and the Legislative Lunch at the Oregon Capitol, is a week later on February 11.

In Oregon, regulatory flexibility will be an important focus as will paving the way for data breach legislation next year.  In addition, Oregon credit unions are working together to implement their prize-linked savings account programs following last year’s successful legislation.

In Washington, look for focus on foreclosure reform and as always, charter enhancements.

A large delegation of Northwest advocates—typically as many as 200—will accompany NWCUA leadership to CUNA’s Governmental Affairs Conference in Washington February 21-25.

Important areas of focus will be continued advocacy for regulatory flexibility to enhance services to members, Field of Membership improvements and efforts to reduce the high costs of regulation.

Questions about this story? Contact Lynn Heider: 503.350.2225, lheider@nwcua.org.

Posted in Advocacy News.