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Washington Archive

Washington

42 state AGs write Congress to back patent reforms

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WASHINGTON (2/25/14)--Forty-two state attorneys general signed onto a letter sent Monday to key lawmakers, and which voiced their support for legislation to fight patent abuses and reform the system.

From the outset of their letter, the attorneys general highlighted their concerns regarding so-called "patent trolls," saying they "stifle innovation and harm our economy by making dubious claims of patent infringement and using the threat of expensive litigation to extort money from small businesses and nonprofits."

Credit unions are among those who have been victimized by patent trolls and the Credit Union National Association and its affiliated state credit union associations have been active on every level urging state and federal lawmakers and the Obama administration that patent reform is needed.

The AG letter went on to say patent trolls have threatened thousands of businesses and non-profits, and when the AGs receive complaints from their constituents they have responded by launching investigations and bringing enforcement actions against patent trolls.

"Our authority to protect businesses derives primarily from state statutes that prohibit unfair and deceptive acts. Though any patent holder has a right to fight infringement, it may not do so in a manner that is unfair or deceptive," the letter said.

While commending current legislation (S. 1720 and the recently passed H.R. 3309), the letter recommended four additional provisions to be added as bills work their ways through the legislative process. They are:
  • Confirmation of state attorneys generals' authority to bring the same types of enforcement actions under state law as under federal law;
  • Clarification of state-court jurisdiction over bad-faith demand letters;
  • Transparency for patentees that send demand letters; and
  • Patent litigation reform, so the cost of patent litigation doesn't far outstrip the cost of a settlement.
The letter was addressed to Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt,), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee; Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the ranking member of that panel; John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W. Va.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation; and John Thune (R-S.D.), ranking member of Rockefeller's committee.

CUNA is also working to enlist the help of consumers in the effort to gain patent reforms through the U.S. Congress. CUNA President/CEO Bill Cheney said recently in a Huffington Post article, ""If you are a member of a credit union, a customer at another small financial institution, or an owner of a small business, I hope you will contact your senator and let them know you are behind efforts to combat the tactics of the trolls."

Hyland challenges CUs to improve awareness outreach

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WASHINGTON (2/25/14)--National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF) Executive Director Gigi Hyland on Monday urged credit unions to improve their outreach efforts. 

Click to view larger image NCUF Executive Director Gigi Hyland urges credit unions to improve their information outreach efforts, saying that too often during her 23 years in the credit union movement, even friends and neighbors have responded with confusion when she discusses credit unions with them. (CUNA Photo)
Hyland listed ideas and potential partnerships for credit unions at the Credit Union National Association Government Affairs Conference in Washington, D.C. She said that while the credit union brand is strong, there is still plenty of room left to create better awareness. 

"I'm going to exert every bit of diplomacy I have learned," the former National Credit Union Administration board member said. Even so, she added that credit unions are "really bad at creating awareness." 

She said that too often throughout her 23-year career in the credit union movement, even friends and neighbors have responded with confusion when she has discussed credit unions with them. 

Hyland highlighted three ways credit unions could boost their profile.

She first told conference attendees to make themselves part of the "strategic architecture of your community's financial well-being" by collaborating with local governments, nonprofits and cooperatives such as farmers' markets that strive to implement ethical business models.

Hyland then encouraged credit unions to integrate "business and benevolence"--by tying both philanthropic efforts to improving Americans' financial well-being and financial services to institutional charitable donations.

She concluded by telling credit unions to become a trusted resource beyond their members. Holding reality fairs, retirement fairs and readily offering financial information and education could, Hyland said, turn heads. She encouraged conference attendees to consult either the NCUF or state credit union foundations for other ideas and suggestions.

Hyland said that the timing of outreach is critical, pointing to Americans' glaring lack of affordable financial services. She cited a 2012 Financial Industry Regulatory Authority survey that found 19% of Americans spend more than they earn, 26% have unpaid medical debt and 56% have no emergency savings. Credit unions can fulfill this "huge unmet need," she said.

"But if they don't know you're there, they can't choose you," she concluded.

The NCUF is the U.S. credit union movement's primary national philanthropic program provider. Through NCUF grants and programs, credit unions provide widespread financial education, create greater access to affordable financial services, and empower more consumers to save, build assets, and own homes.

CUNA and CUNA Mutual Group are among the foundation's chief corporate supporters.

NEW: Royce to intro new MBL-related legislation this week

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WASHINGTON (UPDATED: 9:25 A.M. ET, 2/25/14)--Legislation that would exempt certain housing loans from the member business lending cap will be introduced this week, Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.) told 2014 Credit Union National Association Governmental Affairs Conference attendees this morning.

The bill, known as the Credit Union Residential Loan Parity Act, would exempt one-to-four-unit non-occupied dwellings from the cap.

"We should take a closer look at [the MBL regulation] and where it doesn't work, fix it," Royce said.

"While this legislation is not a panacea to your biz lending woes it will provide relief," he added. The regulatory relief measure would also help increase affordable housing stock, Royce said.

These type of housing loans make up around 20% of CU MBL balances, he noted.

He asked credit unions to add a request for bill cosponsors to their list of asks when they hike Capitol Hill this week.

Do what you do best, "get some cosponsors," he said.

GAC: Cheney challenges CUs to ramp up grassroots efforts

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WASHINGTON (2/25/14)--Credit Union National Association President/CEO Bill Cheney challenged 2014 Governmental Affairs Conference attendees to ramp up their grassroots efforts in engaging lawmakers on a list of issues that attracted a record attendance to the credit union movement's annual advocacy gathering.

As the credit union movement nears 100 million in membership--a mark it will most certainly pass later this year--Cheney challenged attendees to engage 10 million of those members in grassroots efforts.
 
"If we can engage our members, who want to speak up for us, not only will they support us, but they will do more business with us," Cheney said.
 
During his opening GAC remarks, Cheney cited continued increases in credit union membership and market  share as additional reasons for optimism about lawmakers listening more closely to the system's concerns about issues such as the credit union tax status and data security.
 
Cheney praised credit unions for doing an "absolutely fantastic" job in educating members about the tax exemption, with 1.3 million credit union members contacting the U.S. Congress on the issue. He said CUNA and credit unions--as well as the whole nation--expect to hear from the House Ways and Means Committee this week on the long-awaited tax reform proposal.
 
"We are confident, as confident as anybody can be in Washington, that our interests will be protected," Cheney said. "Bankers have financial resources; we have people resources, and it's making a difference.'
 
He also noted the turnout of 450 credit union advocates for a special GAC breakout session on the National Credit Union Administration's risk-based capital proposal.  Cheney said credit unions understand a risk-based system is needed; however, the system must be implemented as part of an overall restructuring of credit union capital requirements.
 
Under the current NCUA risk-based capital plan, credit unions would be limited in their ability provide loans and invest in credit union service organizations.
 
The CUNA CEO encouraged credit union to use modeling tools on the CUNA website to "drill down a couple of levels" on the effects of the proposal, and to register concerns during the NCUA's 90-day comment period.
 
"We've got to give NCUA the tools they need to address this problem, and the proposal that's on the table today is simply not acceptable," Cheney said.
 
Cheney also said members of Congress are willing to listen to credit union concerns on data security.  "We have been very successful in raising the profile of this issue," he said, citing a survey that CUNA membership survey which found the Target data security breach has cost credit unions $30.6 million.

NEW: Senate Committee to hear McWatters nomination March 4

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WASHINGTON (UPDATED: 6:15 P.M., 2/25/14)--National Credit Union Administration board nominee Mark McWatters will testify before the Senate Banking Committee on March 4.

Obama announced his intent to nominate McWatters in mid-December, and sent the nomination to the Senate in early January. The NCUA nominee must be approved by the committee and the full Senate to take a seat on the NCUA board.

If confirmed, McWatters would replace board member Michael Fryzel, whose term ended Aug. 2. Fryzel will continue to serve until McWatters is confirmed.

McWatters served in 2009 as counsel for Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), who has been the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee since January 2013. McWatters is currently dean for graduate programs at Southern Methodist University's School of Law in Dallas, Texas.

He was a member of the TARP Congressional Oversight Panel in Washington, D.C. from December 2009 to April 2011. TARP--or the Troubled Asset Relief Program--refers to the $700 billion fund established in 2008 to help stabilize the economy after the downturn caused by a burst housing market bubble. The supervision panel was charged with overseeing the investment of TARP funds in an array of systemically significant and other institutions including megabanks like Citigroup, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs, AIG, GM, GMAC, Chrysler as well as approximately 700 additional financial institutions.

Former PM Blair tells GAC he's impressed by CU lobbying

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WASHINGTON (2/25/14)--Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair praised the U.S. credit union movement Monday at the Credit Union National Association 2014 Government Affairs Conference in Washington.
Click to view larger image Former Prime Minister Tony Blair jokes with his credit union audience at CUNA's 2014 GAC that he was "feeling quite sorry lawmakers on Capitol Hill" facing credit unions' lobbying plans for later in the week. On a serious note he says he's "impressed" by such advocacy efforts. (CUNA Photo)

Blair lauded the work credit unions do for millions of Americans, opining that "we're rather behind you in the U.K. and Europe."

The former prime minister told the packed conference hall that he had learned "quite a lot" and was impressed by the impending lobbying push organized by CUNA and the credit union movement. He joked that the lobbying plans for later in the week left him "feeling quite sorry lawmakers on Capitol Hill." CUNA, the state credit union associations and credit unions launch a massive advocacy effort in conjunction with the GAC every year to much note in Washington, D.C.

Although a controversial figure in Britain throughout his leadership, Blair has enjoyed a relatively high rate of popularity in the U.S.

His approval ratings, while in office, were roughly twice as strong on the western side of the Atlantic (USA Today Jan. 24, 2006), and he was warmly received by the GAC audience, who gave him a standing ovation at both the start and end of his talk.

"It's amazing how nice people are to you when you stop being prime minister," he chuckled.

Blair highlighted a number of global issues throughout his talk. He discussed international development and how an increasingly economically integrated world has intensified the speed and scope of political change. Blair also argued that there is a need for economic reforms in both Europe and the U.S. and encouraged Americans to continue to embrace world leadership as Asian countries become more powerful.

Despite the weighty focus, Blair further seemed to endear himself to the crowd with his sense of humor. He made a number of comical remarks in a speech punctuated by laughter from the audience--described by the former leader at the onset as "light relief talking about world affairs."

He joked about how he thought it was "not very supportive" when Cherie, his wife, told him that the number of trips he has made to the Middle East as a special envoy--114, he said--isn't as important as the progress being made in Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

Blair also poked fun at his efforts to help his 13-year-old son Leo with his homework, marveling at the gadgets the teenager uses to learn, and describing his assistance as "utterly inadequate." He also said that he never had a cell phone as prime minister, which, he said, "in light of recent events, was just as well"--a reference to the scandalous tabloid phone-hacking conspiracy that victimized his successor, Gordon Brown.

The ex-Labour Party leader's self-deprecation did serve to illustrate his point about how rapidly technology is changing the world. Blair said this was a cause for optimism. He told the audience how his recently deceased father, who was also named Leo, grew up in a working-class foster home in Glasgow and would be thrilled that extreme poverty is increasingly becoming a thing of the past.

He did warn, however, that middle-class families are being squeezed in countries throughout the world--a phenomenon that has affected security. Blair said this was most recently highlighted by unrest in Ukraine.

"We need to make work pay, which is why the minimum wage is such an issue in Europe and here, too," Blair said. Higher wages, he argued, should also be able to reduce reliance on the welfare state--something Blair sought to reform throughout his decade in office.

Whatever the course of action for tackling any problem, Blair encouraged the GAC attendees to resist the urge to resort to short-term solutions designed to placate the loudest naysayers. The challenges facing institutions throughout the world, he said, makes passivity tempting.

Successful leaders, he said, "perceive the direction of change and the leadership to take us there."

Matz at GAC: Merchants must be held to same data security standards as CUs

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WASHINGTON (2/25/14)--The data breach at Target is the story of a double standard "that is neither healthy nor fair,"
Click to view larger image
 National Credit Union Administration Chairman Debbie Matz said Monday at the Credit Union National Association's 2014 Governmental Affairs Conference. "While financial institutions are required by law to protect sensitive personal information, data protection standards for retailers are too often simply not adequate," Matz added.

CUNA has made this same point in several recent letters to the U.S. Congress.

The NCUA leader identified cyber-security as one of the top priorities for the regulator and the credit union system going forward.

"A data breach--even if it's outside the financial system--can have enormous negative repercussions inside the financial system," Matz said. "No matter how far removed a given data breach is from your credit union, if it affects your members, you can pay dearly--both in terms of your reputation and your balance sheet."

Data breaches are not the only cyber-security risk, according to Matz.  Hackers have used passwords stolen from a credit union to access one of the larger credit bureaus, and cyber-terrorists are now targeting credit unions.

"When these attackers break through, websites crash. Members are unable to access their accounts. It can take hours to bring systems back online," she said. Hackers can infiltrate systems and compromise or destroy data, and could use a credit union as an entry point to gain access to payment systems and vendors.

Some also use front-end denial of service attacks to create a diversion while others break into a network through a back door. "Think about the damage they could do," Matz said.

Agency examiners will be looking to see how credit unions are implementing appropriate risk mitigation controls to better protect, detect and recover from cyber-attacks. Vendor due diligence, strong password policies, proper patch management, employee training and network monitoring are among the items credit unions will need to address or improve.

To prepare for potential attacks, credit unions can share cyber-security best practices  at league meetings and take part in national information-sharing forums.

The NCUA itself is also partnering with federal law enforcement, intelligence and financial agencies to improve its own cyber-security.

"NCUA needs to be ready. The credit union system needs to be ready. Working together, we will be ready," Matz said.

Sen. Corker talks tax, commends CU advocacy efforts

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​WASHINGTON (2/25/14)--Speaking during Monday's 2014 Credit Union National Association Governmental Affairs Conference session, Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) told credit union supporters he does not know of anyone who wants to change the credit union tax status.

Click to view larger image Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) tells credit union supporters he does not know of anyone who wants to change the credit union tax status. (CUNA Photo)
Corker is a member of the Senate Banking Committee and has served in the Senate since 2007.

The senator has recently been an active member of housing finance reform efforts, introducing the Housing Finance Reform and Taxpayer Protection Act (S. 1217). That bill would wind down government-sponsored enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and replace them with a new mortgage guarantor.

He credited CUNA for helping push housing finance reform legislation along, and said credit union Senate testimony on reform goals was "profound." Housing finance reform legislation will likely be marked up soon in the Senate Banking Committee and could see a full vote this year, the legislator added.

Corker said two credit union priorities for reform--maintaining the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage and ensuring broad access to the secondary mortgage market--should be in the final version of the Senate bill.

Overall, the legislator said he was impressed by the record GAC crowd of 4,400, and by credit unions' positive, upbeat advocacy.

'Don't Tax My Credit Union' highlights CUNA annual meeting

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WASHINGTON (2/25/14)--During the Credit Union National Association's annual general meeting Monday at the 2014 Governmental Affairs Conference,  President/CEO Bill Cheney reflected on a year by highlighted the "Don't Tax My Credit Union" campaign, a grassroots effort that generated millions of contacts with lawmakers.
 
"Advocacy remains our top priority and protecting the credit union tax status is at the top of the priority list," Cheney said.
 
Among the 2013 highlights Cheney shared at the meeting:
  • CUNA, the leagues and credit unions were instrumental in making progress in protecting credit unions from patent trolls. The House passed a bill with several CUNA-supported provisions. Similar Senate action is pending.
  • Overall in 2013, CUNA testified seven times before six different congressional full committees and subcommittees, on issues including regulatory relief for credit unions, reform of Dodd-Frank, financial literacy and housing finance reform.
  • The first stand-alone credit union regulatory relief bill in 15 years was reported out of the House Financial Services Committee. It provided parity for credit unions with banks in respect to federal insurance coverage of lawyer trust accounts and other similar accounts.
  • The Credit Union Legislative Action Council raised more than $2.1 million in 2013, a record for net receipts.
  • CUNA was among the first groups to call for no more corporate credit union assessments--as early as last summer--arguing that losses had fallen dramatically. The National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) followed up by announcing in November that there wouldn't be an assessment for 2014.
  • The CUNA regulatory advocacy team filed 60 comment letters in 2013, to a variety of regulators, including: NCUA, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Federal Reserve Board, Small Business Administration, Financial Accounting Standards Board, Department of Defense, Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council, Department of Housing and Urban ,and Financial Crimes Enforcement Network.
Cheney also noted CUNA ability to work with NCUA, when it must regulate, citing the recent rule on loan participation as example. CUNA, representing its membership, preferred no rule at all but working with leagues and credit unions, Cheney noted, "we submitted strong comment letters outlining our suggestions for change."
 
"Fortunately, the final rule included many recommendations we sought and is a vast improvement from what was proposed," Cheney said. "It shows what we can do when we effectively voice our concerns."

'Don't Tax Tuesday' is today

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WASHINGTON (2/25/14)--Today credit union advocates will reprise the Credit Union National Association's award-winning "Don't Tax Tuesday" campaign.  This time, #DontTaxTuesday will occur in tandem with CUNA's 2014 Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC), where thousands of credit union advocates will be in Washington to meet with their legislators. 
 
CUNA representatives will also be emailing past "Don't Tax My Credit Union" advocates and encouraging them to again contact legislators via the Tweet Congress tool at www.DontTaxMyCreditUnion.org
 
Additionally, CUNA staff will be live-tweeting throughout today's GAC general session. CUNA encourages credit union employees and members nationwide join in using the #DontTaxMyCU and #DontTaxTuesday hashtags.
 
CUNA has earned recognition for previous "Don't Tax Tuesday" initiatives. On July 23 and Sept. 10 last year, CUNA and state credit union league advocacy used social media to encourage credit unions, credit union members and other credit union advocates to contact state and federal lawmakers directly with the unified message of "Don't Tax My Credit Union." The campaigns earned a Grassroots Social Media Innovation Award from the Public Affairs Council.
 
There have already been more than 13,000 tweets using the #DontTaxMyCU hashtag, including 7,200 tagging a member of Congress, over the past two rounds of #DontTaxTuesday. 
 
"We continue to have more members of Congress come out in support of our tax exemption, but we need to be certain to turn these words into action," said Joe Joiner, CUNA's "Don't Tax Tuesday" coordinator. "Once they hear the strength of the credit union movement again, it will demonstrate how losing the credit union tax exemption will impact 99 million members and their communities."
 
There are many ways to participate:
  • Tweet or post on Facebook using the #DontTaxMyCU hashtag and tagging their legislators.
     
  • Go to the Tweet Congress tool on the CUNA website, put in your information, and receive pre-written Tweets and posts.
     
  • Download the CUNA Advocacy app on your iPhone or Android, click "Take Action" and "Tap Here to Tweet to Congress," where you can then receive pre-written Tweets as well.
     
  • Create a Vine video and post it to Twitter using the hashtags.
     
  • A tweet can be as simple as "Please #DontTaxMyCU @ (Twitter handle of your Congressional delegate here) #DontTaxTuesday." Credit unions and individuals can participate by tweeting to their senators and representatives using the #DontTaxMyCU hashtag, or posting on Facebook by including the senator or representative in a post by typing the "@" sign and then typing the lawmaker's name.

Media experts tell GAC CUs how to tell their story

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WASHINGTON (2/25/14)--At the Credit Union National Association's 2014 Governmental Affairs Conference Monday, former ABC anchorman and GAC master of ceremonies Paul Berry lead a panel of journalists for an in-depth discussion about how credit unions can better communicate their message to the media.

The panel featured several accomplished Washington, D.C., journalists including Fox News' Tucker Carlson, The Washington Post's Ylan Mui, and Politico's Lauren French.

The panel covered a variety of topics including the Target data security breach, the National Security Agency spying scandal, online privacy, regulatory policy, tax reform, inaction in Congress, and tips on how to pitch stories to journalists.

One memorable moment came from Carlson, when asked, "How can credit unions help people understand the difference between banks and credit unions?" Carlson said banks are the greedy reckless ones who ruined the economy, and no one likes them. Credit unions are the ones who did not. It's a simple story.

In the end, each journalist offered tips to help credit unions communicate with the press.

French told GAC attendees to always know who they are talking to and what that journalist covers.

Carlson encouraged credit unions to slow down with the jargon and "industry speak," and avoid being patronizing to the journalist. Most importantly, he said, credit unions should expect some pushback on their story. Journalists are meant to ask challenging questions, he said, adding, "You should expect that and have an adult response."

Mui told credit unions to be accessible. Lunches, coffees or informational interviews are helpful to journalists who are trying to better understand the credit union story, she said.

Online power tool will drive home CU compliance concerns: GAC

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WASHINGTON (2/25/14)--PowerComment, a new online regulatory advocacy resource that will help credit unions take their compliance concerns directly to regulators, was unveiled Monday at the Credit Union National Association's 2014 Governmental Affairs Conference.

Click to view larger image Coming soon:  California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues President Diana Dykstra and CUNA President/CEO Bill Cheney announce a new online tool to amp up the volume of credit union regulatory comment letters. (CUNA Photo)
CUNA and California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues (CCUL) partnered to develop the tool, which helps users efficiently generate and submit letters to regulatory agencies, including the National Credit Union Administration and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. CUNA President/CEO Bill Cheney and CCUL President Diana Dykstra announced the innovation Monday morning.

PowerComment also explains proposed rules and regulations issued by regulators and helps individuals understand how those rules may affect their credit union. The website, which will be available exclusively to CUNA-affiliated credit unions, also provides a discussion board so that credit unions can discuss any questions or concerns with other members.

"Like it or not, regulation is a major part of today's credit union movement," CUNA General Counsel Eric Richard said. "We know credit unions feel like the onslaught of regulation in recent years is one of the greatest headwinds facing the future of our movement. And we know credit unions want to do what they can to help shape the regulations. PowerComment will help credit unions take action in the regulatory arena."

CUNA Deputy General Counsel Mary Dunn added, "CUNA and the leagues are always committed to providing credit unions with the best technology to confront the challenges facing the movement.

"In the spirit of the cooperative movement, CUNA is pleased to partner with the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues in this venture as we continue to look for ways to improve the regulatory environment for our credit union members."

PowerComment is currently being tested by seven credit union state leagues and is set to be available for all members later this year. Watch News Now for more developments on this issue.

CU advocacy must be strong now, continue for best impact

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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.

CUNA provides Hill visit support for 4,400 CU advocates

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WASHINGTON (2/26/14)--More than 4,400 credit union supporters are preparing to join this week's credit union Capitol Hill Advocacy efforts.

Credit union Capitol Hill hikes are a key part of the Credit Union National Association's annual Governmental Affairs Conference, and give credit union supporters the chance to take their local and national political and regulatory concerns directly to their members of Congress.

As they ready for their hikes, CUNA legislative staff have provided an overview of the key message points to deliver to members of Congress during Capitol Hill meetings.

This year, the top items on CUNA's legislative agenda include encouraging members of Congress to:
  • Tell leadership and tax writing committee members "Don't Tax My Credit Unions," and to make a public statement of support for the tax status based on structure and mission;
  • Require merchants to adhere to the same strong data security standards that credit unions must follow and to reimburse credit unions for the costs they incur as a result of merchant data breaches. Credit unions should also be permitted to identify the merchant at which a given data breach occurred when notifying members that their accounts have been compromised, if the source is known and if disclosure would not hamper an investigation;
  • Reduce credit unions' regulatory burden by supporting bills that would address privacy notification standards, make the examination process fairer and more consistent, and make structural improvements to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau;
  • Ensure credit unions have continued access to a well regulated, well capitalized and liquid secondary mortgage market, and maintain the availability of the 30 year fixed rate mortgage; and
  • Enact charter enhancements so that credit unions can continue to serve their members. House and Senate legislation (H.R. 688/S. 968) that would permit experienced and well-capitalized credit unions to apply for expanded business lending authority, and bi-partisan legislation (H.R. 719) that would permit credit unions to accept supplemental forms of capital consistent with cooperative principles.
"Every meeting will be different, and schedules can change by the minute. Whether you are meeting with a senior member of Congress, or a House freshman staff member, remember to be clear and concise. Make sure they understand the main points," CUNA Senior Vice President of Legislative Affairs Ryan Donovan said.

For more CUNA legislative advocacy resources, use the resource link.