NWCUA Advocacy Team is off and Running with 2020 Plan

Access to financial resources for all consumers, modernization of state and federal charters, and a flexible regulatory environment to help credit unions better serve their members are primary focuses this year.

1/14/2020

There was no rest for Northwest credit union advocates after a successful 2019 that saw advocacy and regulatory wins in every state capitol and in the beltway last year. The Northwest Credit Union Association team worked throughout the year in collaboration with the state Governmental Affairs Committees and the newly minted Federal Charter Work Group to develop a policy advancement agenda for this year and beyond. And, they’re off and running!

Advocacy is the primary strategic priority at the NWCUA, with a commitment to evolve and maintain the best possible environment for credit unions. In the year ahead, your Association’s team and credit union advocates in Boise, Salem, Olympia, and Washington, D.C., will continue to work diligently to promote access for all consumers to the not-for-profit, cooperative financial services model to advocate for the continued evolution of our charters and keep our focus on regulatory advancements that allow credit unions to remain competitive and relevant.

In Congress

Last year’s Impeachment proceedings notwithstanding, credit unions were successful at getting a lot of important legislation into the 2020 federal pipeline. NWCUA is currently tracking 67 issues in Congress.

“A key priority will be to advocate for access to capital for the underserved, particularly veterans, farmers and rural residents, women, and minority small-business owners,” said Samantha Beeler, Vice President, Advocacy. “We’re also working toward legislation to ensure that credit union members’ data is protected from cyberattacks and data breaches.”

A delegation of more than 200 advocates from Northwest credit unions will accompany the NWCUA team to the CUNA Governmental Affairs Conference in February and will meet with virtually all U.S. Senators and Members of Congress who represent Idaho, Oregon, and Washington.

Modernizing the Charter in Idaho

The Idaho Legislature approved important updates to the state’s Credit Union Act in 2017 and in 2018. The focus on the charter will continue this session.

“Following an extensive review of the Idaho Credit Union Act by our State Issues Working Group last year, we have developed a legislative agenda that will continue to modernize the act,” said Ryan Fitzgerald, Vice President, Legislative Affairs for Idaho. “In 2020, we are focused on bringing flexibility to the areas of lending and investment regulation.”

In addition, NWCUA is backing a bill to require private towing companies to notify lienholders when a car is towed, whether from private property or from a posted location. Impoundment fees rack up when lienholders are not notified, and credit unions have written off many vehicles when the fees are higher than the value of car.

Advocates are encouraged to attend Idaho Day at the Capitol on Jan. 22 so they can meet face-to-face with legislators. Registration is open online.

Evangelizing the Credit Union Difference in Oregon

The NWCUA and grassroots advocacy army in Oregon is nationally admired for a 20-plus years’ long record of modernizing the state’s Credit Union Act at least every two years — a trend that continued in the 2019 session.

With the 2020 Oregon Legislature gaveling in a 35-day “short session” on Feb. 3, advocates will miss no opportunity to tell legislators about credit unions’ economic and community impact and how their not-for-profit cooperative structure delivers enormous benefits to consumers and businesses on Main Street.

“Credit unions are serving in every community in Oregon, helping 2 million consumers achieve their financial dreams,” said Pamela Leavitt, Policy Advisor, Oregon State Advocacy and Grassroots. “We will be sharing a lot of good news with legislators about credit unions’ giveback to communities, about how we help build brighter financial futures through financial education, and about credit union loans that empower our members on Main Street.”

The 2020 Oregon Legislative Luncheon will take place in Salem on Feb. 13.

Credit Unions’ Impact and Data Privacy in Washington

Priority one in Olympia this year is to continue to educate lawmakers about credit unions’ cooperative structure and how their business tax exemption drives significant economic benefits to Main Street, according to Joe Adamack, Vice President, Legislative Affairs for Washington.

“It is critically important advocacy work now and in the future, as Washington’s Legislature has seen a tremendous amount of turnover and lawmakers are constantly looking for ways to increase state revenue,” Adamack said. “NWCUA will also closely monitor other issues impacting credit unions, including a state data privacy bill, and a number of pieces of legislation with the potential to impact short- and long-term operating costs in our state.”

A major snowstorm resulted in the cancellation of last year’s Credit Union Day at the Capitol in Olympia. This year’s event is Feb. 6, and advocates are encouraged to turn out in full force.

Editor’s note: NWCUA will keep you updated on all advocacy developments through frequent posts to the Advocacy on the Move blog and in the Anthem newsletter. Visit nwcua.org and click on the “Customize Your Experience” section at the bottom of the homepage to subscribe to the blog and other NWCUA features.