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Wis. senator CUs are real people for real reasons
WASHINGTON (2/26/09)—Credit unions are “real people to real people for real reasons,” according to Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.)
Clifford “Chip” Coenen, left, vice president of business development at Lakeview CU, Neenah, Wis., explains some of credit unions’ concerns about the future to Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.) during a Hill hike Wednesday afternoon. Wisconsin credit union representatives met with both Kohl and Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.)
Kohl and Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) met with a group of Wisconsin credit union representatives during an annual Hike the Hill event Wednesday afternoon, which coincided with the Credit Union National Association’s Governmental Affairs Conference. Both senators thanked credit unions for their work. “You guys do a great job,” Kohl said. “I am one of your many admirers.” Feingold echoed similar sentiments. “I’m a big fan of credit unions,” he said. “[Credit unions provide] a very important way for citizens to access financial services.” During the Wisconsin meeting, credit union representatives told their senators that they want member business lending (MBL) caps lifted from the 12.25% limit. “We believe that [by changing the MBL cap] we can play a vital part in turning the economy around,” said Brett Thompson, president/CEO of the Wisconsin league. Many credit union representatives in the audience shared their stories about member business lending. Kim Sponem, Summit CU, Madison, Wis., emphasized the need for more small business lending by noting the vacant strip malls in her city as an example. If credit unions could lend more, they could help small businesses fill those empty spaces, she said. Feingold said that he would be open to supporting credit unions on raising MBL caps, but recognized that with the economy, “this is a difficult time.”
Illinois Credit Union League representatives met with Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) on Capitol Hill Wednesday. League representatives discussed member business lending caps, mortgage cramdown and the effects of data breaches on credit unions with Gutierrez. From left are: Gutierrez; Ryan Donovan, Credit Union National Association vice president of legislative affairs; and David Mooney, CEO, Alliant CU, Chicago. (Photos provided by CUNA)
Credit union representatives also alerted their senators to a mortgage cramdown bill that is expected to be voted on today. Cramdown would allow bankruptcy judges to alter the terms of existing mortgages that are nearing default. Both senators were receptive—Kohl said the Senate doesn’t currently have a timeline for the bill, and Feingold noted that he would take a look at Sen. Richard Durbin’s (D-Ill.) and Sen. Arlen Specter’s (R-Pa.) list of modifications to the cramdown bill. In addition to discussing their concerns, credit union representatives also assured the senators that they would continue to do their best to serve members despite a tough economy. “When the chips are down, people get hurt, and we all have to keep moving forward,” said Clifford “Chip” Coenen, vice president of business development at Lakeview CU, Neenah, Wis.


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