NWCUA Priority Bill at Top of Committee Agenda as OR Legislative Session Opens

The Oregon Legislature gaveled into session this month, with lawmakers and advocates turning their eyes to some of the most pressing issues facing the state. Included on the agenda is the debate over the budget, a statewide transportation package and PERS reform.

The Oregon Legislature kicked off with a strong showing for Oregon credit unions (file photo: Oregon Live).

According to Oregon law, the length of the 2017 legislative session is limited to 160 calendar days, and should end in early-July.

Your Association was honored to get the call from Representative Paul Holvey that our priority bill, HB2161, to update the Oregon Credit Union Act, would be the first bill heard in the House Business and Labor Committee.

Last Wednesday, Scott Burgess, President and CEO of Rivermark Community Credit Union; Hal Scoggins, outside counsel to NWCUA; and Pamela Leavitt, Legislative Policy Advisor testified in support of HB2161.

The bill makes four important changes:

Approval of Bylaw Changes

Bylaw amendments must be submitted to the Department of Consumer and Business Services (DCBS) for approval. Section 1 streamlines the approval process under ORS 723.022. The existing statute requires DCBS to approve bylaw changes in writing. As revised, the statute eliminates the need for a written approval and allows changes to take effect 30 days after submission unless DCBS either disapproves the amendment or requests additional information from the credit union. It is important to note that this change does not reduce the authority of DCBS to approve or deny bylaw amendments; it simply avoids the need for formal written approval in order for the amendment to take effect.

Expulsion of a Member

This change allows a credit union to expel a member engaged in activity that is likely to cause a loss to the credit union, even if that loss has not yet occurred. The wording of the current statute could lead to a conclusion that expulsion is not available until the member has already caused a loss or has otherwise breached an agreement with the credit union.  When a credit union is aware of likely account fraud, kiting, or other illegal or risky activity that will cause a loss to the credit union absent preventive measures, there is no reason that the credit union should have to wait to expel the member.

Frequency of Board Meetings

This section removes from ORS 723.292 the specification of a required number of board meetings per year, delegating authority to DCBS to prescribe the minimum number of board meetings by rule. This is the same approach taken for banks under ORS 707.670.

Update to Federal Parity Provision

ORS 723.156 is referred to as the federal parity provision. This statute allows Oregon state chartered credit unions to exercise powers that are available to federal credit unions doing business in Oregon. It serves to maintain the attractiveness of the Oregon charter in comparison with the federal charter. With constant changes to the federal credit union regulations, it is helpful to keep the parity provision “fresh.” Since 2013, federal credit union regulations have been updated on a wide variety of issues such as use of fixed assets (i.e. buildings, etc.), loan participation, investment in bank notes, and charitable donation accounts. Updating the “strike date” in the parity provision permits Oregon credit unions to exercise federal powers under the new or updated federal credit union regulations in the same manner as federal credit unions.

Every two years Oregon State and Federally-chartered credit unions come together to review the Oregon Credit Union Act for recommended updates and changes, all with a focus on our members.  It’s critical that we have laws that are responsive to the many changes in the financial services industry.  This bill has been reviewed and supported by credit unions across the State and by our Association. We also reviewed the proposal with our Regulator at the Division of Finance and Corporate Securities.

The bills is expected to be voted out of the House Business and Labor Committee sometime this week.

Rep. Vic Gilliam to Resign Seat in Oregon Legislature

Long a friend of Oregon credit unions, Rep. Vic Gillam (right) was celebrated by colleagues shortly after announcing his departure due to health reasons.

Rep. Vic Gilliam announced recently his intent to leave the Oregon House of Representatives, saying in a statement that he is “grateful and honored” to serve his constituents. He leaves months after being diagnosed with ALC, or Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

House Republican Leader Mike McLane said a statement that Gilliam embodies what it means to be a public servant. “I have relied on Gilliam’s counsel, moral clarity and unfailing wit,” he said.

NWCUA Oregon Policy Advisor Pam Leavitt echoed Rep. McLane’s comments, recognizing Gilliam as someone who was equal parts a serious legislator, but approachable by credit union advocates.  He supported Oregon credit unions on critical votes and was one of the top leaders in Salem to address the issue of financial exploitation of our seniors.  “In a body of citizens who are also legislators, he was a model for both titles and serves his role with integrity and humor,” Leavitt added.

Once Rep. Gilliam formally submits his resignation, Republican leaders from Marion and Clackamas Counties will nominate a small group of possible candidates. If the vacancy is not filled within 30 days, the Governor can fill the position.  Your Association Advocacy team will continue to monitor the story and upcoming selection process for developments.

Questions about this story? Contact Eric Horvath: 503.350.2222, ehorvath@nwcua.org.

Posted in Advocacy News.