JANUARY 8, 2016
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Creating Influence will be published weekly
while the Georgia Legislature is in session.

Calendar Growing Influence: Credit Union Touch Points with Legislators (Issue 1 of 7)
What can credit union people do to protect and promote the industry in 2016? A look back at a busy 2015 provides some guidance for involvement in the advocacy process.

  Congressional Year in Review: CU Victories in Washington, D.C., and What’s Next (Issue 2 of 7)
Credit union interaction with members of Congress yielded several legislative victories last year; challenges this year include resisting additional regulatory burdens, promoting data security and protecting credit unions' tax status.

  Breaking News: Congressman Lynn Westmoreland to Retire (Issue 3 of 7)
U.S. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, who represents Georgia's 3rd Congressional District, announced that he plans to retire from Congress at the end of 2016, after having served six terms.

  State Legislature Begins January 11th (Issue 4 of 7)
As the Georgia Legislature prepares for the second year of its two-year session, more than 200 bills of interest to credit unions remain active from last year, promising a lively 40 days of legislative activity.

  Has Your Credit Union Sent NCUA a Letter on the Proposed FOM Changes? (Issue 5 of 7)
Credit unions that haven't yet commented on NCUA's proposal for extensive changes to its field of membership rules are urged to do so before the comment deadline of Feb. 8, 2016.

  Don’t Miss the State Governmental Affairs Day (Issue 6 of 7)
There is still time to register for this year's Grassroots Academy, an all-day event on Jan. 26 that's designed to introduce Georgia credit union people to the legislative and political environment that the industry operates in.

  Credit Unions in the News (Issue 7 of 7)
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.

Growing Influence: Credit Union Touch Points with Legislators (Issue 1 of 7)

Congress returned to work in Washington, D.C., on January 5th, and the state Legislature begins its 40- day session on January 11th. During the course of these two legislative sessions, there are countless bills that touch the credit union industry. At times for the positive, providing new powers and/or regulatory relief – and at times for the negative, with far-reaching implications on how you serve your members and your ability to function in a common-sense manner.

What can one do to help legislation beneficial to credit unions move forward, and stop those bills with negative impacts? Having a vigilant and strong lobbying team on both the federal and state level makes a difference, but so do the efforts of your credit union. Credit unions influence the legislative arena by building relationships with elected leaders, sharing perspective on bills, and putting a local in-district face on the industry. And this does not happen by accident. It takes time, purposeful action and sometimes the willingness to step out of your comfort zone to influence the political process. In 2015, credit unions across Georgia did just that and helped grow legislative influence for the industry:

13There were 13 Hike at Home meetings, encompassing 20 legislators and/or key staff:

Included are four chapters that hosted legislators and key Congressional staff during the year: Chattahoochee Valley Credit Union Chapter, Middle Georgia Chapter, Northeast Georgia Chapter, and South Georgia Chapter.

3There were three Hike the Hill events to Washington, D.C. during the year:

  • 140 credit union leaders from 29 credit unions in March at the GAC,
  • 25 credit union leaders from 16 credit unions in September at the Hike the Hill, and
  • Senior GCUA staff visit in June.

There were more than 130 political events attended by members of the GCUA lobbying team, with credit unions engaged in 10 separate political fundraisers encompassing:

In addition, there were several other points throughout the year where credit unions helped shape the opinions of legislators. A sampling of these includes:

Thank you to all who connected with their elected leaders and helped shape their opinions on issues, bills, and the industry. We look forward to seeing these connections grow in 2016!

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Congressional Year in Review: CU Victories in Washington, D.C., and What’s Next
(Issue 2 of 7)

U.S. CapitolCongress has a much different pace than the state Legislature; with 535 members between the U.S. Senate and U.S. House, it’s almost an inevitability that the ability to get things done is impacted the way it is! And while most dialogue surrounding Washington, D.C., is focused on what Congress hasn’t done, 2015 provided a number of credit union victories on a federal level:

  • Credit unions were able to add three regulatory relief provisions in the government/highway funding bills that were signed into law: to send privacy notices only when there is a policy change (and not annually), give privately insured credit unions access to the Federal Home Loan Bank, and create a system to reduce regulatory burden for credit unions serving rural areas.
  • There were 20 separate pro-credit union bills that went through the House Financial Services Committee, and 15 credit union provisions were included in the Senate Banking Committee's regulatory relief bill, which tees up regulatory relief in 2016.
  • There was the first congressional oversight hearing of NCUA’s budget in several years, and a commitment to hold more going forward.
  • The House Financial Services Committee passed HR 2205 on data security, which was the first time a congressional committee has endorsed the view that merchants that accept cards for payment should be held to the same security standards as the credit unions that issue them.

And similar to the state, the amount of effort behind the scenes is often not readily visible, but credit unions, Leagues and CUNA’s efforts helped prevent a number of issues that would have greatly intensified regulatory burden on credit unions. But what’s next for credit unions in 2016? There are current efforts to:

  • Ensure the NCUA’s field-of-membership and member business lending modernization proposals are approved; 
  • Push NCUA on lessening exam frequency;
  •  Intensify advocacy efforts when the CFPB proposes new regulations on payday lending and overdraft protection;
  • Maintain efforts to share the credit union viewpoint with the Department of Labor on its fiduciary rule and overtime rule; 
  • Push back against the Federal Communications Commission’s Telephone Consumer Protection Act order in the courts and Congress; 
  • Continue urging Congress to enact the Data Security Act of 2015, and emphasize that as long as merchants are held to lower data security standards than credit unions, the threat of major data breaches remains high; and 
  • Continue to counter state-by-state bank attacks on the credit union tax status.
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WestmorelandBreaking News: Congressman Lynn Westmoreland to Retire
(Issue 3 of 7)

After serving for six terms, Rep. Lynn Westmoreland announced on January 7th that he will retire from Congress at the end of December 2016. Rep. Westmoreland served on the House Financial Services Committee.  He represents a strongly Republican district in west-central Georgia. If the election year wasn’t already full  of intrigue with the Presidential race, this could add some additional interest for Georgians. With an open seat. credit unions find themselves with an opportunity to  build a new relationship in the 3rd Congressional District.

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Georgia CapitolState Legislature Begins January 11th
(Issue 4 of 7)

The Georgia Legislature will start back to work next week, and there will be no shortage of bills that impact credit unions, requiring constant lobbying efforts by the industry. This year all the bills that did not pass in 2015 are still eligible. With 2,400 plus bills and more than 200 that were of interest to credit unions still active, it will be hectic. In the last edition of Creating Influence there was an overview of 10 issues of interest to credit unions; stay tuned over the next 40 legislative days as there will be more!

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QuestionHas Your Credit Union Sent NCUA a Letter on the Proposed FOM Changes? (Issue 5 of 7)

As highlighted in multiple editions of Creating Influence, NCUA proposed wide changes to field of membership (FOM) rules. The proposal was published in the Federal Register, and the comment deadline has been set for February 8, 2016. GCUA sent out a call to action in December asking all credit unions to engage their staff and volunteers in submitting a message of support on the FOM proposal. If you have not done so yet, please utilize the GCUA grassroots action center to submit pre-written letters. Whether state or federally chartered, all benefit from a strong dual chartering system to ensure that credit unions have progressive laws and rules by which to serve members.

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SignDon't Miss the State Governmental Affairs Day (Issue 6 of 7)

Registration is underway for the 2016 Grassroots Academy, an all-day immersion in the legislative issues, environment and people that alter how credit unions operate. Each year is different (and there are several of you who have attended ALL of them over the years!), and this is the opportunity for credit unions to hear firsthand from state leaders on what to anticipate in the Georgia General Assembly and Congress, gain insight into the legislative and political environment and how it can impact the way credit unions in Georgia serve their members – and what credit unions can do to shape their future.

This event is on January 26th downtown across from the Capitol, and the group will travel to the Gold Dome that afternoon to hear from key state legislators (comfortable shoes and a coat recommended!). For more details, speakers, and registration information please click here.

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NewsCredit Unions in the News (Issue 7 of 7)

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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