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Pa. CUs on state Hill interchange a hot topic
HARRISBURG, Pa. (6/17/10)--Pennsylvania credit unions just concluded two days of political advocacy efforts in the state--and interchange fees was among the issues addressed.
Pennsylvania Governmental Affairs Committee members John Schmidt and Carol Humenick meet with State Rep. Tim Hennessey, center, (R-Chester) during Hill visits after a joint meeting of the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association’s (PCUA) Governmental Affairs and State Credit Union Advisory Committees.
The second day of a two-day joint meeting of the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association’s (PCUA) Governmental Affairs and State Credit Union Advisory Committees featured more than 40 Hill visits Tuesday to representatives at the state Capitol (Life is a Highway June 16). Credit union leaders told lawmakers or staffers about credit unions’ community activities and how they are bettering the lives of their members. Discussion topics included the Credit Union Better Choice program--a payday loan alternative--savings and loan rates, and the impacts of credit card and mortgage reform. The interchange amendment to the Senate version of the financial regulatory reform bill came up because the state has several programs that use prepaid debit cards. Also, the state is researching using purchasing prepaid cards (P-Cards) to pay vendors directly to reduce administrative costs, and allow the state to garner revenue from card issuer rebates. Committee members also discussed how card-use costs would be shifted to consumers who are on state benefits--unemployment, public assistance, supplemental security income--and can’t afford it. That cost also undermines efforts to move low- and mid-income individuals into mainstream banking, PCUA said.
Bruce Foulke (left), vice chairman of the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association’s (PCUA) Governmental Affairs Committee, greets Trey Hawkins, vice president of political affairs for the Credit Union National Association, at a joint meeting Monday of PCUA’s Governmental Affairs and State Credit Union Advisory Committees. (Photos provided by the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association)
On Monday, the committees received an update on the status of the state and federal political advocacy efforts, including interchange, financial reform, and the state budget, along with pending regulatory issues from the National Credit Union Administration (Life is a Highway June 15). Trey Hawkins, vice president of political affairs for the Credit Union National Association, discussed upcoming elections. Nationally, there are 13 open Senate seats and 39 open House seats for the 2010 election cycle. There also are 14 competitive Senate races and 69 competitive House races. In Pennsylvania, both the U.S. Senate race and the 7th District seat are toss-ups. There are six seats that are deemed vulnerable, PCUA said. Hawkins touted ways for credit unions to get involved in the political process: campaign involvement, voter drives, and direct action to members--endorsements and promotion.


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