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Mich GAC: Make Your Voices Heard
LANSING, Mich. (4/18/13)--The Michigan Credit Union League Governmental Affairs Conference offered attendees a simple message: Make your voices heard with state and national legislators.

Click to view larger image State Sen. Bert Johnson (D-Detroit) talks with Michigan Credit Union League President/CEO Dave Adams at the legislative luncheon during the Michigan Credit Union League's Governmental Affairs Conference.
MCUL CEO David Adams stressed the importance of advocacy during his remarks to open the conference. Adams also celebrated the successes achieved by the credit union system during the past year (Michigan Monitor April 15).

More than 125 attendees met with state legislators during the annual legislative luncheon.

Most GAC attendees already know the importance of interacting with legislators and regulators, Richard Gose, Credit Union National Association senior vice president of political affairs, said during his presentation.

Among the major political issues under discussion in Washington are tax reform and identifying revenue to help reduce the federal budget deficit, Gose said. He said credit unions must be vigilant to protect the federal tax exemption.

Preserving the credit union tax status remains CUNA's top legislative priority, and CUNA has emphasized that credit unions must work collaboratively to communicate the importance of that status to their members.

Click to view larger imageMichigan Credit Union League President/CEO Dave Adams presents Sen. Mike Green (R-Mayville) with the league's State Lawmaker of the Year award. (Photos provided by the Michigan Credit Union League.)
CUNA has designed a members-only toolkit to help credit unions connect with their members and educate the public about credit unions. The tax toolkit webpage features free materials such as radio ads, print ads, newsletter articles, state-level updates, materials to use in advocacy efforts with federal and state lawmakers. For more, use the resource link.

CUNA research has shown that when credit union members understand the value of membership, they will work with credit unions to defend their tax status. The more consumers and legislators know about credit unions "the better and stronger we are," Gose said.

For more on CUNA's tax toolkit, use the resource link.

Political activism is about "protecting your jobs and our members," said Lon Bone, vice president of public relations and community involvement at Genisys CU, Auburn Hills, Mich., during a panel on political activism. Bone, a member of MCUL's political action committee board, said he doesn't consider whether politicians are Republican or Democrat, but how they vote on credit union issues. He suggested CEOs recruit board members who are passionate about political activism.

Steve Dedene, manager of Credit Union ONE, Ferndale, said that he sends out a credit union factsheet whenever a new lawmaker visits one of his service areas.

Kieran Marion, MCUL vice president of legislative and regulatory affairs, presented an overview of the league's top priorities, including state foreclosure reform and reducing urban blight.

Credit unions play a critical role in Michigan's economic recovery, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette told attendees. Schuette stressed the importance of the credit unions within Michigan's economic infrastructure. "I understand the importance of credit unions," he said.

Sen. Mike Green (R-Mayville) was named MCUL Lawmaker of the Year and Matt Blakely, legislative director for state Rep. Peter Pettalia (R-Presque Isle) was named MCUL Staffer of the Year.
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