Credit Union-Supported Bills Pass Idaho Legislature

The work of advocacy pays off as the Credit Union Act updates are signed into law, along with a lienholder notification bill.

3/31/2020

Idaho’s Credit Union Act has been modernized, thanks to the passage of S. B. 1301 in the 2020 legislative session. Governor Brad Little signed the bill into law last week.

The legislation is the result of a collaboration that began in 2017 between the Northwest Credit Union Association, member credit unions, and the Idaho Department of Finance. While some Act updates also passed in 2018 and 2019, the latest measure reorganized and clarified the code requirements related to lending, investments, and fixed assets. The new Act update:   

  • Clarifies requirements and provides more flexibility for credit unions that acquire and hold fixed assets, as well as provides guidelines for the disposal of acquired assets;
  • Provides flexibility for individual Idaho credit unions to determine the best overall mixture of fixed assets;
  • Reorganizes the lending section of the ICUA to keep pace with modernized lending requirements within the marketplace;
  • Provides clarity and regulation alignment for credit unions to work collaboratively on loan participations;
  • Clarifies loan maturity limits, while aligning when the Idaho Department of Finance (IDOF) can require an appraisal on a loan;
  • Modernizes investment practices to align with the flexibility being offered to federally-chartered credit unions regulated by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA);
  • Provides additional government-backed investment vehicles to allow for more flexible investments for state-chartered credit unions; and
  • Modernizes the authority to invest in Credit Union Service Organizations (CUSO), which aligns with NCUA regulation.

Another NWCUA priority bill was H. B. 411. This legislation builds on improvements to towing notification requirements passed in 2019. Now, according to Idaho law, policing agencies and towing companies must provide more timely notification to lienholders when a vehicle is towed. For credit unions, this saves on high impound fees and enhances opportunities to recover an abandoned vehicle that still carries a lien or assist the owner in recovering their vehicle.

“These newly passed laws will ultimately help credit unions to even better serve their 1 million members,” said Ryan Fitzgerald, NWCUA Vice President, Legislative Affairs for Idaho. “The Idaho Credit Union Movement accomplished a lot during this legislative session, and that is the result of our collective engagement and collaboration in advocacy.”

Icon Credit Union CEO, Connie Miller, served as Co-Chair of the Idaho Governmental Affairs Committee. She noted that credit union advocates’ engagement last year led to all the success in the 2020 session.

“We appreciate all of our credit unions’ efforts to actively provide information so our legislators can make the most educated decisions on the needed legislation to keep the Idaho Credit Union Act relevant in serving consumers and small businesses today,” Miller said.

Dan Thurman, President and CEO of Idaho Falls-based East Idaho Credit Union also served as Co-Chair of the GAC. He stressed the importance of having a fair and modern credit union charter in the state.

“These bills certainly aid in this effort,” Thurman said. “We are proud of our relationships with the Idaho Department of Finance and our elected officials, and thankful they recognize the important role that credit unions play in our communities and state.”

Also of note to credit unions is legislation supported by the Idaho Department of Finance. NWCUA negotiated with the regulator over the past several years to ensure any such legislation included features that would help credit unions support their members. The legislation that passed this session allows the Director to extend the 18-month exam cycle for an Idaho state-chartered credit union, while also allowing credit unions to provide their members with opportunities to deposit in tax-advantaged savings programs as well as manage trusts and custodial agreements.

The work of the Idaho Credit Union Movement in the legislature this year resulted in improved laws, Thurman, Fitzgerald, and Miller noted, that will allow credit unions to continue to be the best financial choice for consumers in the Gem State.

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