JUNE 12, 2015
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Calendar Growing Credit Union Influence in Congress (Issue 1 of 6)
Members of Georgia Credit Union Affiliates' senior leadership met with several members of Georgia's Congressional delegation in Washington, D.C., to pursue legislative initiatives and promote understanding of not-for-profit financial cooperatives.

  Quick Turnaround on Fast-Moving Compliance Issue in Congress (Issue 2 of 6)
GCUA, other leagues and CUNA worked together quickly to secure the removal from a trade bill of a provision that would have increased compliance burdens and costs on credit unions and other financial institutions.

  Six Pro-Credit-Union Bills in Congressional Hearing (Issue 3 of 6)
Six bills that would ease the regulatory burden on credit unions were discussed in a subcommittee hearing of the U.S. House Committee on Financial Services; the bills are expected to advance in the coming weeks.

  Two Elections for State House Next Week (Issue 4 of 6)
Special elections are scheduled next week to fill two vacant seats in the Georgia House of Representatives. Four other House seats will be decided in special elections on July 14.

  GCUA One of Two CU Organizations to Address Sharing-Economy Issues (Issue 5 of 6)
GCUA and CUNA addressed credit union concerns during a May 26 Federal Trade Commission workshop on issues related to the "sharing economy," aimed at beginning the process of crafting regulations on peer-to-peer platforms.

  Building Relationships EARLY Matters! (Issue 6 of 6)
A legislative aide to Georgia Sen. David Perdue already has a good understanding of the credit union industry, thanks to GCUA relationship-building efforts when he was a staff aide to a Georgia state senator.

Hike the Hill
From left: GCUA President/CEO Mike Mercer; GCUA Senior Vice President/Business Development Diana Houston; U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter; GCUA Senior Vice President/Government Influence Cindy Connelly
Growing Credit Union Influence
in Congress (Issue 1 of 6)

At the start of June, GCUA senior leadership met with members of Congress and their staff in Washington, D.C., for an intense round of quick Hill visits. The purpose of these meetings was twofold:

  • to pursue legislative initiatives for credit unions with the Georgia delegation, and
  • to build a strong understanding of the unique nature of not-for-profit financial cooperatives with the newer members of the U.S. House and Senate.

With several newly elected officials in Congress this year, it is imperative to grow the awareness of credit unions and what makes them different. During these visits, the group from GCUA met with the members and staff of the newest of the Georgia delegation: Sen. David Perdue (R) and Reps. Buddy Carter (R-1), Jody Hice (R-10), Rick Allen (R-11) and Barry Loudermilk (R-12) , as well as both members on the Financial Services Committee: Reps. Lynn Westmoreland (R-3) and David Scott (D-13).

During discussions on credit union concerns over merchant data breaches, Rep. Scott announced his support of a credit union-backed bill, H.R. 2205, the Data Security Act of 2015. The bill ensures that all members of the payments system that handle consumer financial data have robust protection processes in place. The bill also recognizes the strong standards credit unions already have in place under the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act. Rep. Scott’s leadership on this issue is greatly appreciated.

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Quick Turnaround on Fast-Moving Compliance Issue in Congress (Issue 2 of 6)

WatchGCUA, along with other Leagues and CUNA, combined efforts in a matter of 24 hours to address a quick issue that arose this week in a trade bill that had a provision that would have inadvertently increased compliance burdens (and costs) on credit unions and other financial institutions. On Tuesday, June 9th a problematic provision for financial institutions was discovered in a fast-moving Senate trade bill, and after a coordinated effort led by CUNA it was removed from the legislation on June 10th, before the House had the opportunity to vote on the trade package. The overall bill was lobbied heavily by other industries to pass, and all financial institution interests had to move fast to get the issue corrected.

The problem was a provision in a Senate-passed bill that would have required additional Form 1099 reporting on low-interest deposit accounts and other reporting on all deposit accounts including non-interest-bearing accounts. This requirement would have added more reporting with no positive impact to the consumer, bringing with it significant time and money costs for credit unions and other depository institutions. Special thanks to Georgia Rep. Rob Woodall (R-7) and his staff for weighing in with House Leadership and the Rules Committee expressing concern with the provision.

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Six Pro-Credit-Union Bills in Congressional Hearing (Issue 3 of 6)

Capitol stepsSeveral bills aimed at providing regulatory relief to financial institutions were discussed on Thursday, June 11th in a subcommittee hearing of the House Committee on Financial Services, including six to help credit unions through the reduction of the regulatory burden and/or improve the regulatory environment in which credit unions operate. These bills are anticipated to take another step forward in the hearing process possibly by the end of the month:

  1. H.R. 766, which seeks to end the Department of Justice’s Operation Choke Point. Operation Choke Point investigates whether financial institutions and payment-processing companies have enabled fraudulent activity; 
  2. H.R. 1210, which would treat mortgages held in portfolio at credit unions and other mortgage lenders as qualified mortgages for the purposes of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) mortgage lending rules; 
  3. H.R. 1266, which would replace the CFPB’s executive director with a commission nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate (of which Georgia Congressmen Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-3) and Rep. David Scott (D-13) are co-sponsors); 
  4. H.R. 1941 by Georgia Congressman Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-3), an examination fairness bill that would create an independent ombudsman and examination appeals process (of which fellow Georgia Congressman Rep. David Scott (D-13) are co-sponsors); 
  5. H.R. 2213, which would provide a temporary safe harbor from enforcement of integrated disclosure requirements for mortgage loan transactions under Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act of 1974 and Truth in Lending Act. This would address the liability issues associated with delaying enforcement of the TILA-RESPA integrated disclosures requirements (of which Georgia Congressman Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-3) are co-sponsors; and 
  6. H.R. 2287, the NCUA Budget Transparency Act, which would require the NCUA Board to conduct an annual hearing on the agency's budget.
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Vote hereTwo Elections for State House
Next Week (Issue 4 of 6)

On June 16th, voters in two districts will decide who will fill seats vacated in the state House. These are just two of the six special elections this summer due to an unfortunate death and five resignations. The elections below, as well as the other four races on July 14th, will likely see light turnout and be decided by just a handful of voters. Two elections on June 16th:

Cumming election for District 24:  
The seat was previously held by Rep. Mark Hamilton (R), and is a district that trends heavily Republican. There are presently four individuals running, all Republican:

  1. Sheri Gilligan (R)
  2. William Kremer (R)
  3. Ethan Underwood (R)
  4. David Van Sant (R)

Atlanta election for District 55:  
The seat was previously held by Rep. Tyrone Brooks (D), and is a district that trends heavily Democratic. After one candidate was removed due to residency issues, there are presently six individuals in this race, six Democrats and one Independent:

  1. Alysia Brown (D)
  2. Mike Fitzgerald (D)
  3. John Guest (I)
  4. Marie Metze (D)
  5. Raghu Raju (D)
  6. Shelitha Robertson (D)

Polls will be open from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. on June 16th for these two races. To check your district for a potential open race, to register to vote, or for more information, please visit the Secretary of State’s election page.

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GCUA One of Two CU Organizations to Address Sharing-Economy Issues (Issue 5 of 6)

BilliardsOn June 8th the Atlanta Business Chronicle reported the taxi industry in Savannah has been angered about the recent expansion of Uber in the city. Readers of Creating Influence will recall that Georgia was one of several states to battle transportation network companies (TNCs) Uber and Lyft in the state Legislature to help consumers and credit unions contend with the changing dynamics of a “sharing economy.” The GCUA team lobbied to set insurance standards and help eliminate the gaps in insurance that could be detrimental to the TNC driver, passengers, fellow drivers on the road, and credit unions. Significant effort was put forth to pass HB 190 by Rep. Rich Golick (R-Smyrna) to close that gap in insurance coverage. It also requires TNCs to notify their drivers they may be in violation of their loan agreements, and institutes a lien holder notification.

With the bill now state law, GCUA has researched other avenues to help protect credit unions on this issue and was one of just two credit union organizations (the other being CUNA) to engage the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on May 26th to address credit union concerns on a national level during their workshop. The FTC’s workshop explored issues relating to the "sharing economy" and began the process of how they should craft regulations moving forward to help foster the various peer-to-peer platforms (such as TNCs).

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From left, Gerald Huang, Kathleen Cominski-State Senate Offices, Phyllis Cochran, Augusta VAH FCU; State Sen. Jesse Stone (R-Waynesboro)

Building Relationships EARLY Matters! (Issue 6 of 6)

From a grassroots perspective, building relationships with legislators matters immensely. When an elected official understands what makes credit unions unique and what legislative issues are important to the industry, it helps strengthen the advocacy influence for all credit unions. And building relationships with legislative staffers is key, as these are the people who educate and advise the members of Congress on the issues. A great example of building relationships EARLY can be found in Gerald Huang, the financial services legislative aide for U.S. Sen. David Perdue (R). Gerald, pictured here at the 2013 Georgia Credit Union Legislative Reception held in conjunction with the state legislative session, had been a legislative aide to then Senate Banking Chairman John Crosby (R) and was very familiar with the credit union industry before making the transition to Washington, D.C.

As is also true in the credit union world, people move around in politics, and building a relationship with someone today can help in the future. It is not uncommon for state legislators to seek higher office and run for Congress, or Congressional staffers to return home and run for the state legislature. When they do, they carry their understanding and any relationships with credit unions with them!

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