Advocacy was in Action at MAXX
Next month’s midterm elections, the coming legislative sessions, and credit unions’ tax structure highlighted at the annual convention.
The Northwest Credit Union Movement’s advocacy army had a full agenda at MAXX last week. Several political guest speakers presented at the convention, attendees heard about state and federal policy advancement agendas for the coming year, and they learned how their credit union colleagues from the Heartland beat back a bank attack.
MAXX Attendees Learn From Iowa’s Tax Battle
The bank lobby is increasingly focused on targeting credit unions in the state legislatures, with a strategy to turn small credit unions against their larger family. It failed in Iowa.
Patrick Jury, Iowa Credit Union League (ICUL) Consultant, walked MAXX attendees through a soup-to-nuts case study of what was in the bank-instigated bill targeting credit unions earlier this year, and how an army of united credit union advocates shot it down.
“We knew if a single credit union, or a single league fails, it could easily be a domino effect,” Jury said.
The metrics were strong; nearly 800 credit union advocates rallied at the Capitol and sent 40,000 emails and 2,500 handwritten letters to legislators. The ICUL deployed an aggressive paid media strategy, placed more than 100 earned media stories, and received 80,000 unique visits to its advocacy website.
The state’s credit union members went to bat against the attack. Jury shared another key strategy; the league hired people to canvass fans at college football games. Those who were credit union members opted in to receive messages about how public policy might threaten their credit union.
“That’s how you get 40,000 emails to legislators,” Jury said.
The messages that resonated with lawmakers and the public, Jury said, included:
- Banks dominate the Iowa market. There is no problem that needs to be solved.
- Credit unions are cooperatives, and that benefits the community and determines their tax exemption.
- National banks control 24 percent of the market.
- Banks used 72 percent of their federal tax cuts, to mitigate their share of their state tax obligation.
Honors for a Credit Union Champion
Sen. Lynda Wilson, R (WA-17), received the MAXX Convention’s inaugural Credit Union Champion Award during a joint meeting of Idaho, Oregon, and Washington Governmental Affairs committees. She was recognized, in particular, for her impassioned speech on the floor of the Senate in support of credit unions and the landmark public funds legislation that passed this year.
Wilson now owns a family business but worked for 12 years in a credit union – a time, she said, when credit unions were her rock.
“It was the people that were there, it was the vision that credit unions have that I felt welcome,” Wilson said. “I think members feel that way as well.”
Political Guests at MAXX
- Derek Kilmer (D-WA 6th District) addressing Joint Governmental Affairs Committees: “I want to express gratitude on a few fronts, first for your extraordinary impact on communities – and second, I want to thank you for creating economic opportunities.”
- Speaker of the House Frank Chopp (D-WA 43): “I’m immensely proud to be part of the Credit Union Movement. My personal respect and admiration for credit unions started when I was growing up.” Chopp added he is a member of three credit unions in Washington and pledged to support a “cooperative agenda to modernize the Credit Union Act” next session.
- Denny Heck (D-WA 10th District): “The credit union path is one of resilience and empowerment. What people need right now more than anything else in my humble opinion is the broader credit union theme of people giving back.” He pledged to continue his “serious commitment to easing of compliance requirements on credit unions,” and believes the midterm elections will change committee structure so his legislative proposals will gain more traction.
The Perfect Match
The convention’s annual Advocacy Lunch is always lively and well-attended. This year, your Association’s Advocacy team staged a Dating Game-style skit in which a consumer was trying to find her Best Financial Partner (BFP). Her choices included the Perfect Match Credit Union, a big bank, an unethical payday lender, and an aloof, unregulated online bank. The crowd alternately cheered, booed, heckled, and swooned as “Carmen Consumer” drilled the contestants before finally choosing the Perfect Match CU as her BFP.
The Year to Come
State Issues Work Groups and all three state Governmental Affairs Committees have been hard at work since last spring, identifying the coming year’s policy advancement agendas. High-level strategies were shared in a breakout session. As agendas are finalized, NWCUA will share detailed proposals with member credit unions.