Advocacy Results in Idaho’s First Credit Union Act Update in More than Two Decades

3/27/18

Idaho Governor Butch Otter signed S.1285 into law.

The last time the Idaho Credit Union Act saw any significant updates, it cost 32 cents to mail a letter; a gallon of gas was $1.23, and the Spice Girls were all the rage in pop culture.

At that time, Gem State credit unions protected $1.3 billion in financial assets for 389,210 members; there was no such thing as mobile banking and “share drafts” were about to become the greatest thing since sliced bread (which, by the way, cost $1.17 a loaf.)

In that era and in all years since then, Idaho’s credit unions have done so well serving consumers, that membership soared. Today, Idaho credit unions serve nearly one million members, and protect $8.6 billion of their financial assets.  Mobile banking, remote deposit capture, networked ATMs, business loans for Main Street, and other modern services are as common as, well, smartphones, for Idaho’s credit union members in 2018.

A collaborative effort between the Idaho Department of Finance (DFI), credit unions, the Northwest Credit Union Association (NWCUA), and legislative leadership resulted in targeted updates and modernization of the Act governing state-chartered credit unions.

“From the extensive work of the state issues working group to the strong showing of our members at Credit Union Day at the Capitol, we appreciate the steadfast advocacy of Idaho credit unions during the Idaho legislative session and during the months of hard work leading up to it,” said Ryan Fitzgerald, NWCUA Vice President, Legislative Affairs for Idaho.

“Our member Idaho credit unions have demonstrated their willingness to meet with legislators to share their stories on how the Act update will aid credit union members on Main Street Idaho, he said. “The collaboration of our membership has been remarkable.”

Idaho Governor Butch Otter signed S.1285 into law effective July 1, 2018.

“This is the first step in what will be a transformative process,” said Brad Swartzentruber, Chair of the Idaho State Issues Working Group and President/CEO of Nampa-based Northwest Christian Credit Union. “We will continue working to bring the Idaho Credit Union Act into step with the current financial services marketplace. Idaho’s credit union members and even Idahoans not currently credit union members, will benefit from financial products and services built for today’s marketplace.”

The legislation provides a general reorganization and update of current governance code sections.

In meeting and member voting requirements, the legislation:

  • Establishes broader member voting mechanisms with the introduction of technology;
  • Updates the location of credit union annual membership meetings to allow greater access for members; and
  • Puts specific requirements and limitations for reasons that time-intensive and costly special membership meetings may be called.

The legislation also modernizes requirements for credit union Boards by:

  • Limiting on the overall size of the Board of Directors to ensure efficient governance;
  • Reducing the number of required meetings from monthly to six per year, while providing leeway for additional meetings to be required; and
  • Streamlining board duties and allowing greater delegation of duties by the board, in alignment with modern practices.

Supervisory Committee duties are streamlined as well, with more emphasis placed on the role of auditing their credit union.

In addition, an update to credit unions’ bond requirements insures against risk and must be reviewed by the credit union’s board annually.

Editors’ note: If you have questions about the 2018 Idaho legislative session, or recommendations for the 2019 policy agenda, contact Ryan Fitzgerald by emailing rfitzgerald@nwcua.org

Posted in Advocacy News.