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CU System Briefs (03/26/2014)

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  • LIVONIA, Mich. (3/26/14)-- Online applications are being accepted through March 31 for Michigan credit union professionals under 30 who are interested in receiving complimentary registration to attend the Michigan Credit Union League's 2014 Annual Convention and Exposition. The event takes place June 5-7 in Grand Rapids ...
  • EAST WINDSOR, N.J. (3/26/14)-- New Jersey Credit Union League member credit unions have until the close of business today, to register for the special town hall meeting with Credit Union National Association President/CEO Bill Cheney on April 1. There is no cost to attend. Register by contacting Mary Zelinsky at mzelinsky@njcul.org or 800-792-8861, ext. 100 ...

New York Assembly passes prize-linked savings bill

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ALBANY, N.Y. (3/26/14)--A bill that would allow New York credit unions and other financial institutions to establish prize-linked savings accounts was passed by the New York State Assembly Monday.
 
The Credit Union Association of New York (CUANY) has actively advocated for the bill, A.9037, which was introduced by Annette Robinson (D-Metropolitan) earlier this month ( The Point March 25).
 
An identical version of the bill, S.6805, has been introduced in the state Senate by Sen. Andrew Lanza (R-Metropolitan) and is waiting to be placed on the Senate Banks Committee agenda. CUANY is closely monitoring the bill's progress. If passed by the Senate, the two bills will be reconciled and sent to Gov. Andrew Cuomo to be signed into law.
 
Similar legislation passed both houses of the state Legislature last year with strong bipartisan support before being vetoed by Cuomo, who requested language revisions. The association has worked closely with the governor's office and lawmakers to update the language and move the legislation forward.

Butler, Lewis named winners of Georgia Credit Union League Awards

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DULUTH, Ga. (3/26/14)--Georgia Credit Union Affiliates has named the winners of both its Lifetime Achievement and Eloise Woods Distinguished Service awards this week, the league's two highest honors.

The Lifetime Achievement Award was given to Warren Butler, who during his 29 years of experience with credit unions served on several boards and committees--including a decade on the league's board of directors. He also served as CEO for Georgia United CU, Duluth, Ga., with $957 million in assets, for 10 years.

Named after Moses C. Davis, a Georgia credit union pioneer, the award honors a credit union leader who has overcome the common barriers to success.

"Like Mr. Davis, Warren Butler devoted a meaningful part of his career to identifiable change and lasting improvements for cooperative financial institutions," the release announcing the awards said.

The Eloise Woods Distinguished Service Award went to U.S. Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.)--longtime friend of credit unions--who was one of the first legislators to support H.R. 1151, the 1998 law authorizing credit unions to have multiple common bonds among their memberships.

This year, Lewis also co-sponsored H.R. 688, the Credit Union Small Business Jobs Creation Act, which would provide credit unions with the authority to make additional member business loans.

The award is given to individuals who have worked to advance cooperative finance for the benefit of Georgia citizens.

CU helps mom avoid financial ruin

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BILLINGS, Mont. (3/26/14)--A series of personal disasters had pushed one Montana woman out to the financial brink, before the work of a local credit union helped pull her back and put her back onto stable ground ( Yellowstone Valley Woman March 24).

The riveting story grabbed the attention of the local media in Billings as well, as a full-length feature article was printed in the latest edition of the Yellowstone Valley Woman , which reaches about 80,000 people.

The misfortune for Kim Olivo began when her husband left her and her three children about 12 years ago. In addition to losing her husband, she also lost the job she held at a business the couple ran together.

Olivo would meet someone new after the divorce, but before the two could marry, the man died of cancer, leaving her and her children without the financial support a legal marriage might have provided. She was also left without the security of a job, as Olivo had left hers to take care of her sick fiancé.

As the tragedies mounted in her life, meanwhile, so too did the unpaid bills, and the mother of three's financial situation severely deteriorated. Olivo had amassed substantial credit card debt and, behind on mortgage payments, the bank threatened to foreclose on her house, forcing her to file for bankruptcy.

Back working a waitressing job she'd held in the past--in addition to painting and cleaning houses on nights and weekends--Olivo could not mend her hemorrhaging financial situation.

But her luck turned.

Before his passing, Olivo's fiancé had called on Billings (Mont.) FCU, with $108 million in assets, to take out a home equity loan. Remembering this, Olivo headed to Billings and attempted to secure a similar loan, which she hoped she could leverage for more affordable mortgage payments. 

"I looked through Kim's credit history and the only way I could help get her out of trouble was to call the credit card companies to see if they would settle for less," Tina Lorenz, Billings loan manager, told Yellowstone Valley Woman . "We could see what a worker Kim was and all she had been through. It was obvious her drive to do it was there, so we decided to give her a loan."

Olivo secured the home equity loan, and used the funds to pay off her credit cards, in addition to a pickup truck that her fiancé's family had allowed her to start paying off herself.

She then sold the truck, made some needed repairs on her home and, with a clean bill of financial health, was then able to begin putting money away instead of paying off credit card debt.

"Her credit improved and she was able to refinance the house with lower monthly payments, which allowed her to save," Lorenz said.

Now, thanks to Billings FCU, Olivo's credit has been repaired and she maintains a budget and a savings. She told Yellowstone she still waitresses, paints and cleans, but that she pays her bills now and puts away money.

"I work hard and I feel very blessed," she said. "It's such a relief."

Morgan resigns as Alabama CU administrator

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (3/26/14)--Alabama Credit Union Administration Administrator Larry Morgan has resigned, the League of Southeastern Credit Unions (LSCU) reported Tuesday.
 
Morgan's last day of work was Monday ( eSignal March 25).
 
"The league has had a good working relationship with Larry and appreciate the job he did over the past three years," said Patrick La Pine, LSCU president/CEO. "His knowledge of credit unions was an asset as administrator. We will work with Governor Bentley to identify candidates to become the next administrator."
 
He was appointed the state's administrator by Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley in February 2011. He assumed the post two months after he retired as CEO of APCO Employees CU in Birmingham. Morgan had led APCO for 38 years.
 
Alabama Credit Union Administration Assistant Administrator Lloyd Moore has been named interim administrator. Gov. Bentley will appoint a new administrator, however it could be after the November elections.

Oregon Community CU CEO touts CUs for small businesses

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EUGENE, Ore. (3/26/14)--Mandy Jones, president/CEO of $1.2 billion-asset Oregon Community CU, Eugene, Ore., offered four reasons why credit unions are a better financial services choice for businesses in a recent blog post.
 
"My mentor was my dad, who owned a small business in Milwaukie, Oregon," Jones wrote. "He taught me the importance of businesses being involved in their community and the joy of making a difference in people's lives. He was not surprised when I chose to work in credit unions."
 
The benefits a credit union can provide to a small business, cited by Jones, include:
  • Credit unions can make special arrangements when times get tough. Jones said the focus is always clear at credit unions: Providing access to credit for people who could not seem to get it at the local bank. Even during the economic downturn, credit unions continued to make loans when banks turned small businesses away.
  • You actually own the place. "Credit unions are member-owned, not-for-profit financial cooperatives," Jones said. "That means everyone who becomes a member owns a piece of the rock. No shareholders. No paid board of directors focused on profits. Every decision the credit union board and management makes takes members into consideration first."
  • Credit unions give back. In 2012, Oregon credit unions--for instance--returned $110 million to members in the form of lower loan rates, free checking, higher rates on savings and other benefits--an average of $152 per credit union household. "That's real money our members didn't spend to get access to vital services like credit and a safe place to keep savings," Jones wrote.
  • Credit unions are "the kindler, gentler financial institutions." Credit unions have built a reputation for giving back to their communities, Jones said. "Community service is in our DNA," she wrote. For example, Oregon Community CU is the single largest corporate scholarship sponsor at the University of Oregon. The credit union donated over half a million dollars, and its employees volunteered more than 2,000 hours in community service last year.
The Credit Union National Association is pressing the U.S. Congress to increase the member business lending cap to 27.5% of assets, from the current 12.25%-of-assets level so credit unions can do even more to support the small business lending needs of their communities.
 
CUNA estimates the MBL cap change would help credit unions lend an additional $13 billion to small businesses in just the first year after enactment of a statutory change. This money, which would be made available at no expense to taxpayers, would in turn help small businesses create around 140,000 new jobs.

150 legislators take part in Maine Annual CU Day

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AUGUSTA, Maine (3/26/14)--It was one of the largest turnouts in years: Nearly 100 representatives of credit unions mixed and mingled with 150 members of the Maine Legislature during Maine's Annual Credit Union Day at the State House last week.
John Murphy, president of the Maine Credit Union League; Rep. Ken Fredette (R-Newport); House minority leader and a credit union board member; and Kyle Casburn, president/CEO of Seaboard FCU and a member of the league board, share a laugh at Credit Union Day at the State House in Augusta.

Hosted by the Maine Credit Union League at the Hall of Flags, more than 637,000 credit union members from all regions of the state were represented by the credit union folks on hand.  

"Credit Union Day at the State House is about relationships, and it provides an opportunity to connect local credit unions with their own legislators," said MCUL President/CEO John Murphy. "The feedback from legislators was one of appreciation.... It was nice to hear legislator after legislator remark how important credit unions are to their communities across the state."

The event also provided credit union leaders an opportunity to voice support for "patent troll" legislation which has already passed the state Senate. Credit unions and the state league now are looking for the measure in the House.

The bill would curb unfair and deceptive practices of Patent Assertion Entities--sometimes called "trolls"--and others that sue for patent rights, often in an attempt to force companies to settle out of court. The state bill would save credit unions and other businesses time and money deciphering and responding to patent troll demand letters. The Credit Union National Association supports similar legislation at the federal level.

Also at Credit Union Day, state legislators came together last week to pass a joint resolution that formally recognizes credit unions and their role in supporting consumers in Maine through the financial services they provide, including financial education and other philanthropic work.

Filene report: Sustainability can foster CU growth

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MADISON, Wis. (3/26/14)--By embracing sustainability, credit unions have an opportunity to attract and retain younger members, create innovative loan-growth opportunities and reduce the risk of losing market share to banks, a new report from the Filene Research Institute claims.
 
The report, "Improving Social and Environmental Sustainability: A Credit Union Assessment and Comparison," measured the overall impacts of nine credit unions in four key areas--governance, workers, community, and environment.
 
As consumer priorities evolve, it makes strategic sense for credit unions to double down on sustainability, because their governance and field-of- membership orientation already fulfills many of the items on the sustainability checklist, the report said.
 
Perhaps more importantly, credit unions that embrace and communicate their social or environmental sustainability initiatives can carve out a unique niche for themselves within their communities.
 
Credit unions already exhibit many sustainability traits. Those studied in the report outperformed sustainable banks in important categories--such as worker compensation and benefits, and enterprise-wide recycling. Credit unions have diverse employee bases, pay their workers at or above market rates, and ensure a certain amount of pay equity between executives and line staff, the report said.
 
However, credit unions do have room for improvement. Among the areas with the biggest opportunities to get better: giving preference to local suppliers, undertaking environmental assessments, and developing environmentally focused products.
 
Filene said its report was designed to spur a "what-gets-measured-gets-accomplished" movement toward increased social and environmental performance within the credit union system.
 
"Measuring impact can be a daunting task," the report said. "However, only through an initial measurement of impact can organizations realize opportunities for improvement."