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Illinois chapters keep message before lawmakers
NAPERVILLE, Ill. (11/2/10)--Credit union chapter officials in Illinois have again banded together this fall to facilitate gatherings of credit union officials and lawmakers.
Click to view larger imageThe Illinois Credit Union League's (ICUL) chapter system holds "Chapter Legislative Appreciation" events because successful legislation rests largely in developing a good personal relationship with lawmakers in what has become a very competitive legislative environment, ICUL said. At a recent event are, from left, Illinois Rep. Jim Sacia (R-89, Freeport); Joe Green, chairman of the board, Cornerstone CU, Freeport; Illinois Sen. Tim Bevins (R-45, Dixon); Illinois Rep. Jerry Mitchell (R-90, Rock Falls); and Gail Clore, chapter legislative forum representative for the Northwest Illinois Chapter and CEO, Cornerstone CU. (Photo provided by the Illinois Credit Union League)
The Illinois Credit Union League’s (ICUL) chapter system holds “Chapter Legislative Appreciation” events because successful legislation rests largely in developing a good personal relationship with lawmakers in what has become a very competitive legislative environment, ICUL said. This year, the meetings continued to be held by more than half of the league’s chapters. “Chapter lawmaker appreciation events are just one example of the strong effort shown by our chapter network of political activists, especially our legislative forum representatives,” said Keith Sias, ICUL director of state governmental affairs. “These functions serve as excellent opportunities to better acquaint legislators with the credit union movement and build good will.” One of the most successful meetings this year was a joint effort between the Northwest Illinois and Rockford Area chapters in northern Illinois. In an area that spans eight mostly rural counties and is home to 23 credit unions, the event saw nearly 80 people attend plus several lawmakers, including U.S. Rep. Don Manzullo (R-Ill.), a member of the House Financial Services Committee. The keys to success include the strong relationships credit unions continually maintain with lawmakers, early planning, and a mutually beneficial and enjoyable meeting for everyone involved, the league said. “We actually started back in June by getting on the calendars of our key lawmakers first and then arranged the meeting to be convenient for them,” said Gail Clore, chapter legislative forum representative (LFR) for the Northwest Illinois Chapter and CEO of Cornerstone CU in Freeport. “From there, we planned for a top-notch event and prepared them for what they could expect in terms of dialogue during the meeting.” Another chapter that has good success is Kankakee Valley, the league said. In addition to having well-attended appreciation meetings, the credit unions there look for other opportunities to stay in front of their local lawmakers. “It is very important to also attend any events that are going on in support of the legislators in your area, letting them know you are there to support them also,” said Debbie Eilts, Kankakee Valley LFR. “That way, when you call for their support they know you and that you have supported them in the past.” However, the strong participation of these and 11 other events statewide was not manifest this year just because it is an election year. The same chapter effort has continued annually for the past 15 years. The purpose of the events is not for debate, but to provide groups of credit unions a forum to thank supportive lawmakers on a regular, public basis. “It is important to help keep the credit union philosophy and message regularly in front of our state as well as federal lawmakers, especially at the local level,” said Don Edwards, ICUL senior vice president of federal governmental affairs. “These events help to significantly augment our other political action activities, such as Hike the Hill, our annual state legislative day event in Springfield, district office visits, candidate interviews, and fundraising efforts,” he added.


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