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CU advocacy must be strong now, continue for best impact
WASHINGTON (2/25/14)--Credit Union National Association legislative and political experts detailed overview of the top issues of the day in an hourlong session at CUNA's 2014 Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC).

For instance, CUNA Vice President of Legislative Affairs Ryan Donovan presented credit union issues, and encouraged more than 4,400 GAC attendees to bring their thoughts on those issues to their Capitol Hill visits. Some of the top credit union issues are:
  • The tax status, and defending credit unions from bank attacks against it;
  • The need to increase the member business lending cap for credit unions;
  • Acting to prevent future data breaches, and ensuring merchants are held to the same high security standards as credit unions;
  • Ensuring credit unions maintain access to the secondary mortgage market; and
  • Credit union charter enhancements.
Donovan reminded GAC attendees that the legislative process is a marathon, not a sprint, and "you can't win a marathon by running only the last mile." Credit unions need to remain active at the grassroots level throughout the year to rack up legislative wins, he said.

For more Hike the Hill advice for credit union supporters, see today's News Now.

CUNA Vice President of Political Affairs Trey Hawkins also stressed the importance credit union advocacy efforts could have when elections are held later this year. "We at CUNA see a sea of opportunities on the electoral map this fall," he said. "There are real opportunities out there," and credit unions can help themselves in the future by electing a pro-credit union Congress now.

This election cycle, there will be 25 open seats, four special elections and 77 competitive seats between parties in the U.S. House, and seven open seats and 17 competitive seats between parties in the Senate.

"Credit unions have a myriad of opportunities to re-elect a pro-credit union candidate or elect a new one," Hawkins said, adding credit unions have 99 million members that are willing to listen to credit union recommendations--and willing to vote for pro-credit union candidates. CUNA is planning to ramp up political advocacy activities to take advantage of these possibilities.

One factor that motivates these members is exposure to pro-credit union messaging about the not-for-profit credit union structure and the tax threat they face. The release of this type of information generates overwhelming interest, desire to act and stronger loyalty to the credit union, CUNA Senior Vice President of Political Affairs Richard Gose said.

Pat Sowick, CUNA senior vice president of league relations, said the pro-credit union message provided by CUNA's "Don't Tax My Credit Union" campaign is also resonating in state and local legislatures, where legislation can move more quickly, new credit union taxation proposals can be tough to track and a great deal of teamwork is needed.

She said many other federal issues, such as data security, are likely to be taken up in state legislatures. Four states are considering mandating chip-and-PIN cards, and 12 states last year made changes to their respective credit union acts, Sowick added. Bills to facilitate municipal deposits in credit unions have also seen success lately, she said.


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