WASHINGTON (7/3/12)--Credit union advocates from Missouri, Montana, Ohio and Texas participated in the Credit Union National Association's (CUNA) ongoing Hike the Hill efforts last week, seeking congressional support for member business lending (MBL) cap increase legislation, enhanced supplemental capital access, ATM fee disclosure fixes and other credit union priorities ahead of this week's July 4 district work period.
MBL cap increase legislation, which has been introduced in the U.S. House and Senate, would help credit unions increase their lending to local small businesses, the credit union advocates said.
Montana credit union representatives discuss key credit union priorities with credit union supporter Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and members of his staff, at a meeting in Washington. (CUNA photo)
The Senate version of MBL legislation is expected to come up for a vote this year. The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) has estimated that lifting the MBL cap to 27.5% of assets, from 12.25%, would create 140,000 jobs and inject $13 billion in new funds into the economy during the first year after enactment. Both benefits come at no cost to taxpayers.
Nearly two dozen Texas credit union leaders traveled with Texas Credit Union League (TCUL) representatives for their Washington meetings, and members of that group visited with key members of the House Financial Services Committee and others from their state. Duplicative ATM disclosure regulations are creating issues for credit unions nationwide, as some are vandalizing disclosure placards on ATMs and suing financial institutions for noncompliance.
One member of the Texas group told of how the credit union was targeted by a frivolous ATM lawsuit, with the credit union paying a $10,000 settlement. Nine-tenths of the settlement amount went to the attorney that brought the case, and the TCUL said this story seemed to resonate with elected officials.
Legislation (H.R. 4367) that would help eliminate frivolous lawsuits by removing dual ATM disclosure requirements was passed unanimously by the House Financial Services Committee last week. H.R. 4367 has 145 co-sponsors, and could come up for a full House vote once Congress returns to Washington next week.
The Montana group also covered these national issues, and regional issues, during their meetings with Sens. Jon Tester (D) and Max Baucus (D), and Rep. Dennis Rehberg (R). The Montana group noted that the job growth created by the recent oil boom in the eastern part of the state is resulting in changes for credit unions and communities alike. Credit union members that own land, and oil rights, above Eastern Montana's Bakken oil field are receiving large payouts, and, in turn, are making large share deposits. However, they are not taking out any loans. Share growth is outpacing loan growth, and, as a result, capital is being eroded, the credit union representatives said. "This is an excellent example of a place where supplemental capital could be of great assistance," Montana Credit Union Network President/CEO Tracie Kenyon stressed.
More than 20 Ohio credit union leaders joined Ohio Credit Union League staff during their meetings last week, and the Ohio group met with many key members from their state, including Reps. Steve Chabot (R) and Jim Renacci (R) and Sen. Sherrod Brown (D).
Meetings with Sens. Claire McCaskill (D) and Roy Blunt (R), and Reps. Todd Akin (R), Russ Carnahan (D), William Lacy Clay (D), Emanuel Cleaver (D), Jo Ann Emerson (R), Sam Graves (R), Vicky Hartzler (R), Billy Long (R) and Blaine Luetkemeyer (R) were on the schedule for Missouri Credit Union Association staff and credit union representatives from that state.
The Missouri and Montana groups also met with National Credit Union Administration staff during their visits.
More Hike the Hill visits are scheduled for this fall.
CUNA has encouraged credit unions and small business advocates to meet with House and Senate lawmakers in their home offices during the district work period to continue to encourage passage of the MBL bills. CUNA also noted the broad support that MBL legislation has gained in recent ads. (See July 2 News Now
story: Pre-break CUNA ads highlight MBL support).