CUNA GAC Wrap: More than 200 Northwest Advocates Share the CU Difference Message on the Hill
Northwest credit union honors and in-person time with elected representatives highlighted a big week in the beltway.
A delegation of 5,300 credit union professionals and Directors showed up in force last week for the year’s marquee national advocacy event—the Credit Union National Association’s Governmental Affairs Conference. More than 200 advocates from Idaho, Oregon, and Washington joined the Northwest Credit Union Association’s advocacy team.
The Value of Face-to-Face Advocacy
NWCUA President and CEO Troy Stang introduced Idaho Senator Mike Crapo on the mainstage. Sen. Crapo is the architect of the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act (S. 2155), which passed last year. The new law removes many regulatory barriers for credit unions. A key provision, first introduced by Oregon Senator Ron Wyden, classifies loans on non-owner-occupied rentals with 1-4 units, as real estate instead of as business loans. This frees up more money for credit unions to loan to small businesses.
“This bill was the largest regulatory rollback for Main Street financial institutions in nearly a decade, passed with broad, bipartisan support and signed into law in May 2018,” Crapo said.
Sen. Crapo’s full address is online.
More signs that advocacy pays off came Wednesday, when Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) modified her legislation in the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act. She originally planned to include credit unions in Community Reinvestment Act requirements. Following advocacy from credit unions, her new version instead codifies the National Credit Union Administration’s existing requirements.
“This is a win for credit unions and their members,” said Samantha Beeler, NWCUA Vice President, Advocacy. “Because of credit unions’ not-for-profit, cooperative structure, credit unions’ support of underserved communities is already in place. We would like to thank our member credit unions, CUNA, and other leagues for working hard to advocate for this important change to the proposed bill.”
Northwest advocates wore out some serious shoe leather, visiting the offices of every Northwest congressional representative and meeting with their senators.
“Coming to Washington gives us the opportunity to show up in force as a credit union family, and to meet with our representatives in person,” said Trisha Baker, President and CEO of Lewiston, Idaho-based Lewis Clark Credit Union, and a member of your Association’s Board of Directors. “We are here not just to ask them to support our legislation, but to thank them for their support of not-for-profit, cooperative credit unions, and the one million Idahoans who are members.”
Two Northwest credit unions picked up national CUNA Awards at a reception Wednesday evening. Idaho Falls, Idaho-based East Idaho Credit Union received a first place Dora Maxwell Social Responsibility Community Service Award for its Coins for Christmas program. Medford, Oregon-based Rogue Credit Union was honored with a Desjardins Youth Award for its U-Teach program.
Richard Hein, CEO of Corvallis, Oregon-based Oregon State Credit Union, was inducted into the Credit Union House Hall of Leaders. Hein was selected for advocacy fundraising innovation, dedication to financial literacy, and support for Credit Unions for Kids.
What a Week
The Northwest Credit Union Movement’s role at CUNA GAC was, by all accounts, successful in keeping credit unions top-of-mind in the nation’s capital.
“Much of what we do as advocates can be accomplished at the state level, but in a regulated industry primarily insured by the National Credit Union Administration, and subject to federal laws and regulatory rules, we believe strongly in being at the table in Washington, D.C.,” said Jennifer Wagner, NWCUA Executive Vice President and Chief Advocacy Officer. “I am so proud of the Northwest advocacy army, which continues to make a significant impact.”
Editor’s Note: Visit your Association’s Facebook page to see photos from this year’s CUNA GAC.