FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (9/13/12)--Credit union leaders must engage with policymakers in ongoing, effective relationships, Tom Haider, chief advocacy officer for the Texas Credit Union League (TCUL), told attendees at the Political Engagement breakout session at TCUL's Leadership Conference last week in San Antonio.
Connections with lawmakers will make a difference when credit unions face tough battles over legislation, Haider said.
He encouraged attendees to explore avenues beyond visits to lawmakers' offices, such as hosting "meet and greets" in the credit union, working on campaigns and being active in local civic organizations (Lone Star Leaguer Sept. 12).
Events such as Rotary Club luncheons should include a credit union presence that matches that of community bankers, he told the audience. Civic organizations often are the proving ground for community activists with political aspirations. Establishing a relationship early in a politician's career can provide long-term benefits, he said.
Credit unions also must communicate with lawmakers on the issues that affect them, Haider said. Among the most pressing issues for credit unions is the increased regulatory burden, he added. Citing a recent proposal from the Labor Department to limit children working on family farms, he noted that more than 80,000 people sent in comments, which led to repeal of the proposal.
By comparison, credit unions often send legislators a few dozen comment letters on some issues. Haider urged attendees to mobilize their efforts when new rules are proposed for credit unions. Communications can be simple and straightforward. Regulators are interested in hearing about real-world problems caused by new rules, he said.
Haider also encouraged credit unions to implement TCUL's Credit Unions: Ready, Organize, Activate, Respond program to initiate their own government relations program.