Mon, Mar 16, 2015
Washington, District Of Columbia
GAC – the 2015 Government Affairs Conference -- was held last week at the Washington Convention Center and was attended by approximately 5,000 credit union representatives from around the country. In addition to networking with colleagues, attendees also gained information about the on-going and expanding advocacy efforts of CUNA, CULAC and state leagues. MD I DC had a record number of CU attendees this year, but the Advocacy Team has more hard work to do to further engage our ‘local’ credit unions on the value in attending and participating in GAC.
The culmination of every GAC came this year on Wednesday, March 11 for “Hike the Hill”, where thousands of CU’s representatives visit their respective Congressional delegations in order to show the CU flag, remind staff of the CU footprint, and discuss relevant issues of concern moving forward.
This year, the three topline message points that everyone focused in on for a consistent message across the Hill included:
1. Preserving the CU tax status amidst on-going discussion of business tax reform from both the Obama Administration and Hill Republicans
2. Stopping Merchant Data Breaches and the need for any legislation at the very least to align retailers with the same public disclosure and notification requirements which CU’s and all other financial institutions have been following for well more than a decade.
3. Removing on-going and new regulatory burdens which often stifles CU’s from best serving their members, be it from the NCUA (amended RBC requirements), the CFPB or more than a dozen other federal agencies which have a some jurisdictional focus on credit unions.
The Advocacy Team scheduled and accompanied CU members into staff meetings with all 11 offices of the MD I DC delegation. This year, 19 Association CU representatives took the lead in meetings and informing Hill staff of CU concerns on the issues which affect the membership. While the House stood in recess, one meetings was joined by Rep. Chris Van Hollen, who recently announced his entrance into the 2016 race to succeed retiring Sen. Barbara Mikulski. The best intel gathered in the Hill meetings was that the CU tax status was very unlikely to be affected in any ‘reform’ that is agreed to. But as staff have repeatedly told us, it’s best to always reinforce our tax message given the on-going anti-CU information the community bankers provide these same offices.
As GAC moved forward, the Statehouse in Annapolis continued with activity through bill readings and committee hearings. The Association drafted, submitted written comments and testified in both the Senate Finance Committee on March 3 (Senate Bill 515) and House Economic Matters (House Bill 558,) respectively on ‘Savings Promotion Raffles. These Prize Linked Savings bills would allow CU’s (and banks) to offer members the opportunity to participate in raffles and other prizes to open savings accounts. Current law in other states have shown an uptick in saving accounts deposits when prizes are involved.
Beyond PLS, the advocacy team has continued to monitor, review and update the status of bills moving in the Statehouse. More than 2,000 bills have been introduced in this session. Of these, we have developed a more focused spreadsheet of bills of interest to state and federally chartered credit unions. Foreclosure Bills continue to be of the highest priority for us to address and monitor. This week, a House hearing will take place on two Foreclosure Bills (HB1184, HB1195) which we will submit comments for the record and attend the hearing. Two other property/foreclosure bills (HB372, SB197) have been given a ‘unfavorable report’ and/or withdrawn in committee.
There are also a slew of bills that deal with workplace, wage and employment practices that could impact the way credit unions are able to run their businesses and we will keep tabs on those as well. We will continue to update our Bill spreadsheet through the session. Click here for our spreadsheet, for quick review of the bill number, title, sponsor, summary and current status.
For more information contact: Glen Cooney / 443-325-0775 / email@example.com
Photo Caption: John B, Chris Conway (Educational Systems), Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-08), Beverley Zook (Money One), Rod Staatz (SECU), Andrew Russell (Mid-Atlantic), Doug Allman (NASA), Bernie McLaughlin (Point Breeze).