WASHINGTON (3/20/12)--Credit Union National Association (CUNA) President CEO/Bill Cheney and outgoing board chairman Harriet May, CEO of GECU, El Paso, Texas, reflected on a "pivotal' year for credit unions and told 2012 CUNA Governmental Affairs Conference attendees they had an opportunity to be a "big voice" in Washington this week.
The CUNA GAC runs through Wednesday, with additional Hill visits to federal lawmakers scheduled for Thursday.
Cheney noted how credit unions added significant numbers of new members this year, reasserted themselves through grassroots power, and won unprecedented press coverage, in part through the momentum surrounding Bank Transfer Day (BTD), held on Nov. 5.
Kristen Christian, the young BTD organizer who reported spending 20 hours a day meeting commitments related to the event in the days leading up to Nov. 5, was greeted enthusiastically when she took the CUNA GAC stage prior to Cheney's remarks.
Cheney also hailed credit unions for efforts to attack the regulatory burden they face. One in three comment letters delivered to the National Credit Union Administration urged the agency to dial down regulations, Cheney said. CUNA developed the Credit Union Exam Bill of Rights and the Examination Reporting Form--tools for credit unions to use to illustrate the impact of burdensome regulation.
Exiting CUNA Board Chairman Harriet May addresses the 2012 CUNA GAC. (CUNA Photo)
In her comments, exiting CUNA Board Chairman May said CUNA's top regulatory issue is to relieve the regulatory burden of its members.
"It's a burden we need a relief from," May said.
CUNA helped credit unions generate more than half of the 11,000 comments the Federal Reserve Board ultimately received on its proposed debit card interchange rule, imposed under the Dodd-Frank financial reforms, pointing out key issues and needed changes for credit unions in the proposal, Cheney said.
In four months, CUNA and state credit union leagues helped to generate more than 70% of 600,000 credit union contacts with Congress in support of "stop, study, start over" on debit interchange legislation.
In addition to regulation and interchange, CUNA testified eight times before U.S. Senate and House committees, and filed nearly 70 letters with senators and representatives on issues such as data and cyber-security, non-resident alien deposits, patent reform, flood insurance, regulatory oversight reform, Cheney reported to the credit union audience.
CUNA also helped credit unions save money, Cheney noted. Through CUNA Strategic Services, owned jointly by CUNA and the leagues, credit unions saved $30 million through alliance relationships. As a result, CSS contributed nearly $3.2 million back to CUNA and the credit union system, offsetting dues and providing more resources to advocate for credit unions.
May will retire as CEO of GECU March 31.
"It has been a pleasure serving you," she said. "Go forward and fight for credit unions."