Advocacy, Persistence Pay Off as Priority Bills Pass in Oregon

Legislation significantly updating the charter and electronic application processes are headed for Gov. Brown’s desk.

5/25/2021

Oregon is one of just a few states that prohibits financial institutions from scanning state identification cards to easily populate account or loan applications. That’s about to change with the passage of HB3080.

The legislation was two sessions in the making, but it has been worth the effort as it will ease account and application processes for credit unions and, ultimately, for their members.

“This is important legislation, and advocates were persistent about helping legislators to understand the benefits,” said Pamela Leavitt, NWCUA’s Policy Advisor for Oregon State Advocacy and Grassroots. “Once it was understood that ID would be scanned only with the consumer’s permission, and that their privacy would be protected, the bill cleared the final hurdle last week, passing in the Senate with a 27-1 vote.”

A fierce advocate for the legislation both times the proposal was introduced in Salem was Larry Ellifritz, President and CEO of Consolidated Community Credit Union in Portland. In 2020 — a year in which very few transactions took place in person, CCCU processed 1,200 mortgage loans totaling more than $400 million. Imagine how much more convenient the process may have been for everyone if HB3080 had already been law.

“I am very excited that after two legislative sessions and much advocating, HB3080 will finally become law,” Ellifritz said. “The benefits of being able to scan an ID to apply for a loan or open an account are pretty straightforward. The reason I was so engaged advocating for this was to help bridge a gap between technology and practical applications in our industry.”

Updates to the Oregon Credit Union Act have passed in the legislature every two years for decades, thanks to the work credit union advocates do with NWCUA. This year’s priority bill, HB3079 makes several key updates including:

  1. Update to Parity Provision – The bill will update the strike date (“as of” date) in the Act’s federal parity provision whenever the Act is updated.
  2. Emergency Mergers – Oregon’s credit union merger statute does not currently permit mergers of a community credit union with an occupational or associational field of membership. This bill will provide the Oregon regulator with the same authority that is available to the federal regulator, with the same prerequisites for exercising the authority.
  3. CUSO Investments – This bill will eliminate the majority ownership requirement. This will allow credit unions to invest in a company that primarily serves credit unions or their members even if credit unions do not hold a majority stake in the company.

Successful legislation, such as HB3079 and HB3080, is possible because of steadfast advocacy. Veronica Ervin, SVP/Chief Risk Officer at OnPoint Community Credit Union, dedicates service to both the NWCUA’s Regulatory Advisory Sub-Committee and the Oregon Governmental Affairs Committee. Throughout this legislative session, she shared expertise, met with lawmakers, and testified in support of the bills.

“Northwest credit unions are continually working to ensure our members have convenient access to the products and services they need and expect from their financial institutions,” Ervin said. “The bills we worked together to pass in this legislative session will modernize Oregon’s credit union charter and will empower state-chartered credit unions to continue meeting the needs of their members in a constantly-evolving landscape.”

Editor’s note: NWCUA thanks all credit union advocates for their work to keep the charter modern and relevant, and Oregon legislators for the time they took to understand and champion credit unions’ priority legislation. All Oregon advocates should look for an email from NWCUA at the end of the legislative session in June, with information about sending messages thanking their legislators.