New: S.2155 Passes Senate Thanks in Part to NW Credit Unions’ Fierce Advocacy

As the U.S. Senate debated S. 2155, credit unions called their teams and members to action in support of the legislation.

3/13/18

US CapitalThe Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act, sponsored by Senator Mike Crapo (R-ID), passed the Senate March 14.  Idaho Sen. James Risch joined Sen. Crapo and 52 other U.S. Senators in support of the legislation, which still needs fierce advocacy as it heads for the House.

The “pro-consumer, common-sense” regulatory relief package is seeing  robust support from Northwest credit unions, leading grassroots advocacy by example.

When Sen. Crapo opened discussion on S. 2155 last week, he highlighted Caldwell, Idaho-based Simplot Employees Credit Union as a financial institution burdened by regulatory overreach. He quoted President/CEO Val Brooks’ endorsement of the legislation, reading the following statement:

“As a small credit union, we don’t have the luxury of bringing on extra staff. We take the people that we have and put compliance hats on each of them. They spend a major part of their day dealing with compliance instead of providing member services. We have eight employees and eight employees deal with compliance.”

Bill Anderson, President/CEO of Bend, Oregon-based Mid Oregon Credit Union, feels the issue is important enough to call the credit union’s nearly 30,000 members to action.  Mid Oregon utilized turnkey resources provided by CUNA’s Member Activation Program (MAP).

“Big Brother regulations rigged to favor the Wall Street banks are hurting millions of middle class credit union members like you, by creating longer wait times for mortgages and loans,” Anderson wrote in letter to members.

Anderson said the measure will help protect senior citizens from elder abuse, will simplify the mortgage lending process, and result in better access to affordable housing in local communities. He  provided a link so members could directly voice support to Oregon’s federal lawmakers.

The Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection act, if passed, will correctly classify loans on non-owner occupied rental units with one to four units, as real estate loans. Presently, this form of lending counts against credit unions’ Member Business Loan caps.

That will be a “big win” for credit unions, but “even bigger for our members,” said Chris Bradberry, President/CEO of Longview, Washington-based Fibre Federal Credit Union. Bradberry and Community Development Manager Shannon Cahoon co-authored a letter to employees.

“Credit unions have remained unable to count 1-4 residential loans as mortgages, instead placing them in the restricted and much more time-consuming category of commercial loans, despite the fact that banks can count these as mortgage loans,” said Bradberry and Cahoon. They asked employees to contact federal legislators in support of the bill.

Your Association appreciates the work of credit unions, their teams, and members in support of the legislation.

“This is the time to use our collective credit union voice as a movement,” said Samantha Beeler, AVP, advocacy. “This bill needs the support of real credit union constituents. The opposition to this bill is working hard, but we can work harder, and we have an effective message to share. I think the letters Mid Oregon CU sent to their members and Fibre FCU sent to their employees are fantastic examples. If ever you were waiting on a time to engage your employees or members on a bill, this is it.”

Credit union advocates can find more resources to help their staff and members quickly thank Senators Crapo and Risch for their support on CUNA’s Campaign for Common-Sense Regulation website. As well, advocates can ask their Congressional Representatives to support the legislation moving forward.