NWCUA Advances the Credit Union Movement at NCSL Legislative Summit
August 15, 2017
Last week, Boston became the focal point for the Credit Union Movement as your Association joined CUNA, CUNA Mutual Group, AACUL, and credit union leagues across the nation in a campaign to increase credit union awareness among state lawmakers.
Boston’s Convention & Exhibition Center was host to the 2017 Legislative Summit of the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). The annual event brings together state representatives from across the nation to send resolutions and messages to Congress that will ultimately shape national policy.
Thousands attend the summit each year, including policymakers, legislative staffers, government officials, business representatives, and educators. Your Association is an integral part of ensuring Northwest credit unions’ voices are heard.
Paula Sardinas, the Northwest Credit Union Association’s Vice President, Legislative Affairs for Washington, represented NWCUA at this year’s summit. She explains the event’s impact on federal legislation, and the Association’s role as a policy driver.
“I’ve worked in public policy for 25 years, and I’ve been active in NCSL for over 10. The NCSL drives state policy from a macro level,” Sardinas explained. “The NWCUA is seen as innovative and as a thought leader at this conference. We use our influence not just for betterment of policy in the states we represent, but also to educate others and to bring other states onboard to create better policy nationwide.”
NWCUA was at the table to educate legislators as they addressed policy directives and resolutions that could affect credit union operations. Major topics up for debate included:
- Cannabis banking protection: Answering a request by the Oregon legislative delegation, attendees renewed a resolution to help legal cannabis businesses access banking services. The resolution also calls for removing cannabis from Schedule 1 status on the federal level. Currently, financial institutions are reluctant to provide services to these businesses because there is still no federal law protecting them. As a result, legal marijuana businesses unable to find banking services are operating with high volumes of cash. The NCSL resolution asks Congress to solve the problem.
“We applaud the state legislators for uniting on this critically important public safety issue,” said Sardinas. “Federal legislation is needed to address this issue so credit unions can seamlessly provide financial services to legal marijuana businesses.”
- Tax fairness: In order to level the playing field between remote sellers and in-state businesses, the NCSL supported amending the Remote Transactions Parity Act to allow states to collect sales taxes on all transactions regardless of the platform on which the sales occurred. NCSL also urged Congress to pass the Federal Digital Goods and Services Tax Fairness Act. This legislation would create a framework for the taxation of digital goods and services, providing certainty for state and local governments while protecting consumers from multiple and discriminatory taxation and supporting the continued growth of the digital economy.
Resolutions like these indicate that broad tax fairness conversations are becoming a larger focus at the national level. As these tax conversations take center stage, it becomes even more crucial to have credit union voices at the table. “Legislators may start to look at credit unions because we have a perceived loophole,” Sardinas said. “We were at the table to educate them about the credit union difference.”
Strengthening Credit Unions at the National Level
In addition to ensuring the credit union industry was well-represented during these policy debates, a strong credit union presence at this state-focused summit has implications for the future of the Credit Union Movement on the national stage. Many of the state legislators your Association engages with at NCSL will go on to serve in federal office. In fact, according to CUNA, nearly 50 percent of the members of the current Congress are former state lawmakers. When these legislators are already familiar with credit union issues from their time in state office, it becomes easier for them to understand and advance credit union-friendly policies when they reach the federal level.