AUGUST 21, 2015
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NCUA Expressing Support to NCUA
on Proposed MBL Change (Issue 1 of 6)

Credit union advocates are asked to send messages to the National Credit Union Administration in support of proposed changes to rules on member business lending before the August 31 deadline.

  State Legislature Studies Tax Reform (Issue 2 of 6)
Tax reform was on the agenda as the state House Ways and Means Committee held an out-of-session hearing to discuss tax reform, specifically a bill introduced by State Rep. John Carson of Marietta.

  Legislator-CU Activity in the Districts (Issue 3 of 6)
While Congress and the Georgia Legislature are out of session, representatives of two Georgia credit unions met with a U.S. Congressman and a state senator to help build influence for the credit union industry.

  Special Elections Insight (Issue 4 of 6)
Special election runoffs on August 11 decided the three remaining seats in the Georgia House of Representatives. A Democrat was elected in District 80, while Republicans took posts in Districts 146 and 155.

  Update on Home Depot Data-Breach Case (Issue 5 of 6)
The legal team for credit union plaintiffs in the data-breach suit against Home Depot filed a brief in U.S. District Court opposing the retailer's motion to dismiss the suit, saying that claim lacks merit.

  Credit Unions in the News (Issue 6 of 6)
The credit union message is getting out, as evidenced by coverage of the industry in a wide range of media outlets, from newspapers to magazines to the broadcast media.

PositiveExpressing Support to NCUA on Proposed MBL Change (Issue 1 of 6)

Credit union advocates around the country are engaged in sending call-to-action messages to NCUA – not to address concern for a regulation, but to express support for one of their proposed changes on member business lending. Credit unions are limited in the amount of business loans they can provide to their members, and raising this cap has been a legislative talking point between Congress and Georgia credit union leaders for the past several years. And while it’s predominantly a legislative issue, the NCUA proposal would remove requirements not currently in the Federal Credit Union Act. This would make it much easier for credit unions to provide loans to their members, removing all specific requirements that currently require waivers, including personal guarantee requirements. Additionally, it would exempt some credit unions under $250 million in assets from certain guidelines. The new rules would also mandate that nonmember loan participation would not count against the MBL cap. In terms of regulatory changes, it’s positive!

Send a messageTo join in this effort and send a message of support, please visit the GCUA call-to-action center and take action on the NCUA campaign (click on Advocacy Campaigns, NCUA is third on the list). NCUA is accepting letters until August 31st, and while it only takes 30 seconds to send a form message, those 30 seconds will help combat the negative response NCUA has received from the banking industry.

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Georgia CapitolState Legislature Studies Tax Reform (Issue 2 of 6)

Even though the state Legislature concluded in early April, they hold a variety of study committees and hearings throughout the off session that GCUA attends to watch for potential impact to credit unions. On August 18th, the House Ways and Means Committee met to discuss an issue of interest – tax reform. And while there have been several measures in the past few years that sought to revamp the manner in which Georgia tax revenues are assessed and what is taxed, this hearing was focused on HB 445 by Rep. John Carson (R-Marietta). This bill was introduced during the 2015 session and is active for 2016 (all bills that did not pass in 2015 carry over into 2016). As drafted it is not directed at credit unions, but as with any tax reform measure, is monitored closely by GCUA.

During the hearing, issues such as eliminating many special sales and use tax exemptions were discussed, along with lowering the state income tax, lowering the state corporate income tax, adding the state sales tax back to groceries, and assigning new taxes to various services such as telecommunications and electronic data. The committee heard from presenters and fellow committee members how important it was that the AAA bond rating that the state has held be maintained through any state tax changes -- something that would have an impact of millions of dollars if lost. The point of maintaining the AAA bond rating has been prevalent during these past summer months, both privately and publicly with state legislators and the governor’s staff. When one takes into consideration the hyper-awareness of maintaining the state’s bond rating, coupled with the growing film industry presence in the state (which is fostered through tax breaks), it is presumable that the process of analyzing further tax reform in Georgia will be cautious at best. Regardless, the materials from the hearing are being researched thoroughly to ensure there are no “silent” efforts to impact credit unions, and this issue will continue to be monitored by GCUA.

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U.S. Rep. Austin Scott (center left, with red tie) and Robins FCU employees
Legislator-CU Activity in the Districts
(Issue 3 of 6)

Congress is on its summer recess, and the state Legislature has been “out” since April 2nd. During any legislative off session, it is an ideal time to connect with federal and state legislators who can often be found in the district – at town hall meetings, at civic organizations, at events. It is time well spent: When credit unions engage their legislators in the district, it widens the grassroots connections the industry has, which is imperative in growing legislative influence. And in the past week, Georgia credit unions were instrumental in growing that legislative influence for all:

On August 11th, Robins FCU took the Congressional recess as an opportunity to meet with U.S. Rep. Austin Scott (R-8). Rep. Scott sat down at the credit union to share his thought about the issues Congress will address after the recess, and hear firsthand from the credit union leadership on issues of industry importance and what they do to help the citizens of the 8th Congressional District. By instilling a strong connection and understanding with the Congressman, it helps build an in-district reference point when considering bills that impact all credit unions.

On August 13th, Marshall Boutwell, CEO of Peach State FCU, joined GCUA at a political event for State Sen. PK Martin (R-Lawrenceville). Sen. Martin understands the value of credit unions and has a strong relationship with the industry, as Boutwell, Peach State FCU and the entire Georgia credit union industry were instrumental in his 2014 election, in which he edged out the incumbent to advance to the runoff and later win the seat outright. The high visibility of credit unions at his event was just another way to help continue to grow the connection, and provide support – something as instrumental post-election as it is pre-election.

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ConfettiSpecial Elections Insight (Issue 4 of 6)

On August 11th three open seats for the state House were decided in the special election runoffs:

Atlanta election for District 80:
Taylor Bennett (D) defeated Brookhaven ex-mayor J. Max Davis (R) for the seat vacated by Rep. Mike Jacobs (R). Bennett, an attorney, is likely recognized by college football followers as a former quarterback for Georgia Tech. And as reported over the last several editions of Creating Influence, this district, while it trends Republican, is one of the few in the state that can (and does) swing in elections.

Bonaire election for District 146: 
Shaw Blackmon (R) defeated Larry Walker (R) for the seat vacated by Rep. Larry O’Neal (R). Blackmon is the president of a company that works with banks, and has a strong connection to a credit union leader in the district. He arrives with a key contact to our industry already in place!

Ocilla election for District 155: 
Clay Pirkle (R) defeated Horace Hudgins (R) for the seat vacated by Rep. Jay Roberts (R). Pirkle is a farmer and former banker from Turner County, and carried the Tift County vote, which makes up the majority of the district.

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Home DepotUpdate on Home Depot Data-Breach Case
(Issue 5 of 6)

Counsel representing credit union plaintiffs in the Home Depot data-breach litigation are filing a brief opposing a motion to dismiss from the home improvement giant. On July 1st Home Depot filed a motion in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, Atlanta Division, to dismiss the consolidated class action complaint filed against it by credit unions and others. Home Depot asserts that it believes the plaintiffs lack legal standing to sue. Plaintiffs feel otherwise and think Home Depot’s claims lack merit. The ruling on the motion is expected later this year.

Attorneys representing credit union interests and other plaintiffs are optimistic the ruling will be favorable to credit unions and the matter will then proceed to the discovery phase of litigation where the formal exchange of information between the parties will occur. Credit unions, leagues, CUNA and other financial institutions around the country joined together as plaintiffs in the class-action lawsuit against Home Depot that seeks recovery and injunctive relief associated with the retail giant's massive 2014 data breach.

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NewsCredit Unions in the News (Issue 6 of 6)

Credit unions continue to earn media coverage statewide and beyond. Whether it’s in a local newspaper, niche magazine or radio show, the credit union message is shared through a multitude of outlets across Georgia. Click here to see recent coverage of Georgia’s credit unions "In the News."

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