RALEIGH, N.C. (5/16/11)--North Carolina’s credit unions saw a key step accomplished in their efforts to promote more savings among their members, as SB 513 passed the State Senate unanimously on Wednesday afternoon, according to the North Carolina Credit Union League. The bill would allow credit unions in North Carolina to introduce a special savings program--called Save to Win--which permits participants who save money to be eligible to win monthly prizes, and compete for a grand prize ( North Carolina league’s The Weekly Update May 13). Credit union members at participating credit unions in North Carolina will be able to open a $25 certificate of deposit account to enter the Save to Win program, just as Michigan structured its program. Members can then deposit additional money, in $25 minimum increments, into the Save to Win account each month to earn chances to win monthly prizes and the annual grand prize. Credit unions currently are limited to two raffle drawings per year. SB 513 would exempt so-called savings promotion raffles like Save to Win from this limit to allow for monthly prize drawings, and thus encourage credit union members to save more. Also, the bill defines a savings promotion raffle under the general statues governing credit unions, requiring that money be deposited into a special savings account in order to win. In 2009, Michigan conducted the first Save to Win program in the U.S. Working with the Doorways to Dreams Fund, the Michigan Credit Union League and the Filene Research Group, eight credit unions in Michigan launched Save to Win in January of 2009. In that year-long campaign, 11,000 credit union members saved nearly $9 million. The Michigan program has since been renewed and grown steadily in the past few years, with more than 28,500 accounts opened and $37 million saved. “Pending the passage of SB 513 in the North Carolina House, we plan to work with the Michigan league and Doorways to Dream to launch Save to Win in North Carolina in 2012,” said Lauren Whaley, the North Carolina league’s director of legislative and regulatory affairs. “Like most other states, people in North Carolina do not save enough money. This savings program can provide a safe, fun and powerful incentive for credit unions to get more families saving and help those who are financially vulnerable build financial security.” State Sen. Rick Gunn, a Republican from Alamance and Caswell counties, led efforts to get SB 513 through the Senate Chamber. “I’m proud to have been the primary sponsor of a bill that gathered unanimous support from the senate showing that we are serious about building a strong financial future, even through something as fun as a savings raffle,” Gunn said. SB 513 will now move to the House Chamber for a hearing in the House Banking Committee before it is voted on among all House members and then sent to Gov. Bev Perdue to be signed into law. In a related matter, Washington state’s prize-linked savings bill was signed into law by Gov. Christine Gregoire Tuesday, surrounded by supporters who championed the bill through a difficult legislative session that was in special session. The bill goes into effect 90 days after signing (News Now May 12).