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Association Helps Block CRA-like Bill in Maryland General Assembly

For the second year in a row, the MD|DC Credit Union Association has helped successfully block legislation that would have imposed Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) type requirements on Maryland state-chartered credit unions.

House Bill 1135 was withdrawn Tuesday by its sponsor just before a hearing in the House Economic Matters Committee. The Office of Financial Regulation fiscal note estimated the cost of implementing the bill at $10 million. No official reason for its withdrawal was provided, but the Association actively engaged with the Administration, legislators, industry leaders, and credit unions to oppose the legislation.

state house in Annapolis
Credit union leaders gathered in Annapolis to testify in opposition to HB1135 prior to its withdrawal. From left to right: MECU President/CEO John Hamilton, MD|DC CUA President/CEO John Bratsakis, Central Credit Union of Maryland President/CEO Lisa Jester, MD|DC CUA VP of Advocacy Rory Murray, and SECU President/CEO Dave Sweiderk.

The bill would have mandated that Maryland’s 7 state-chartered credit unions create Community Benefits Plans which have similar obligations as the agreements banks are required to develop and meet as part of the federal CRA.

A similar bill, proposed during the 2023 legislative session, focused on applying the Community Reinvestment Act to state-chartered credit unions and banks. It was withdrawn prior to the first committee hearing.

“This was a well-intentioned bill that would have imposed unnecessary regulations, ultimately harming the ability of Maryland credit unions to serve their mission of providing affordable and accessible financial services,” said John Bratsakis, President/CEO, MD|DC Credit Union Association. “We thank our state-chartered credit unions for their support and active engagement on this issue.”

The following credit unions submitted written testimony: Central Credit Union of Maryland, Destinations Credit Union, MECU Credit Union, Point Breeze Credit Union, Post Office Credit Union of Maryland and SECU of Maryland.

Credit unions were excluded from the federal CRA by Congress in 1977. That exemption has been reaffirmed by federal lawmakers repeatedly through the years, most recently in 2018. 

Despite the federal exemption, efforts to include credit unions under the CRA have emerged at the state level. Illinois passed legislation in 2021, but to date, regulations have not been implemented. The National Community Reinvestment Coalition remains active in advocating for state-level adoption of the CRA, with the inclusion of credit unions. Only a handful of states have CRA laws in place.

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