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Power of GAC Hill visits still resonating
MADISON, Wis. (3/7/14)--Stories of successful visits with Congressional delegates--and welcome news of the preservation of credit unions' tax status--continue to reverberate in the days after the Credit Union National Association's 2014 Government Affairs Conference (GAC).
 
Click to view larger image U.S. Rep. Vance McAllister (R-Swartz), left, greets Glen Beard, board chair, Alexandria (La.) Municipal Employees CU, and board chair, Louisiana Credit Union League. ( eNews photo)
More than 4,400 people attended the annual advocacy conference Feb. 23-27 in Washington, D.C. Nearly 60 Louisiana credit union professionals and volunteers attended the GAC.

"I commend our members for being actively involved with the political process and interacting with legislators at events such as the CUNA GAC," said Anne Cochran, president/CEO, Louisiana Credit Union League. "Louisiana credit unions make it a top priority to educate members of Congress on the benefits of being a credit union member, and I applaud them for that."
 
More than 80 Ohioans met with 17 of the state's 18 Congressional delegates. During their meetings, they reinforced the message: "Support legislation that allows credit unions to better serve their members" ( eLumination March 5).  Access to supplemental capital, member small business lending and merchant data security were hot topics.
 
Click to view larger image Back row: Bernie Winne, Boston Firefighters CU (left); Bob and Ed Foley, Liberty Bay CU; Mike Maloney, Members Plus CU; Gene Leahy, Marty Quinn, Steve White and P.J. Foley, Liberty Bay CU. Front row: Christopher Stockbridge, City of Boston CU (left); U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-Boston); Paul Gentile, Massachusetts Credit Union League; Gerry Burm, Liberty Bay CU; and Bob Walsh, City of Boston CU. ( Daily CU Scan photo)
"We had a successful day on the Hill," said Patrick Harris, director of legislative affairs, Ohio Credit Union League. "We secured at least one new co-sponsorship, and built upon existing relationships with our members of Congress and their staffs. We made an impact."
 
The Cornerstone Credit Union League, which represents credit unions in Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas, had 197 attendees who met with 44 members of Congress or their staff, including U.S. Reps. Markwayne Mullin (R-Tulsa), Jeb Hensarling (R-Dallas), Lloyd Doggett (D-Austin), Randy Neugebauer (R-Lubbock), Pete Gallego (D-Alpine), Texas Sens. John Cornyn (R) and Ted Cruz (R), Arkansas Sens. John Boozman (R) and Mark Pryor (D) and Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.).

GAC Crashers from the Cornerstone league also shared their experiences. " I gained exposure to the political engagement and advocacy with increased buy-in to explain the credit union story," said Noel Sanger, marketing vice president,United FCU, Fort Smith, Ark. ( Leaguer March 6). Sanger was joined by Joe y Griffith, compliance officer, Communication FCU, Oklahoma City, Okla. , and Josh Atkinson, risk specialist, United Community CU, Houston, who said, "It was comforting knowing that there are others who are young and passionate like me, and being around generationally similar and passionate individuals really helped me realize that we have a bright future ahead of us."
 
Click to view larger image Minnesota credit union advocates met with Sen. Al Franken (D). (Minnesota Credit Union Network photo)
Nearly 100 credit union delegates from across Minnesota delivered the message that "credit unions are doing great things every day that impact the lives of everyday Minnesotans--including the 1.6 million who are credit union members," said Mara Humphrey, vice president of governmental affairs, Minnesota Credit Union Network.
 
"But when we leave Capitol Hill, our work doesn't end. We need to continue to engage on issues," Humphrey said. "It is essential that legislators understand what you do and the value that you bring to your members and your communities."
 
North Carolina's credit union advocates met with Sen. Kay Hagan (D) for an early coffee meeting before heading out for full day of appointments that ended with a visit with longtime credit union friend and Rep. Howard Coble (R-Greensboro).
 
A giant tower of "Don't Tax My Credit Union" postcards greeted the Minnesota contingent when they visited the D.C. office of Rep. Rick Nolan (D-Crosby).
The South Carolina contingent met with Reps. Mick Mulvaney (R-Lancaster), Joe Wilson (R-Charleston), Jeff Duncan (R-Greenville) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R) among others ( In the Loop March 5).
 
During Maine's annual credit union breakfast, Sen. Angus King (I) said, "Let us know how new regulations are impacting you and your members.  I believe that regulations are too burdensome and are being proposed without considering the costs vs. the benefits.  More of that needs to be done because it is hurting your operations."
 
Pennsylvania credit union leaders visits the offices of all 18 of their Congressional representatives and both their senators. One of the main topics of discussion was data security breaches and the costs incurred by credit unions in their aftermath ( Life is a Highway  Feb. 27).

"Hearing personal stories from credit union representatives allows for Congress to relate to our issues and understand our role in the communities we serve," the Credit Union League of Connecticut reported ( Weekly Update March 4). Thirty-eight individuals from Connecticut visited their delegation on the Hill.


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