JANUARY 22, 2016
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Gold Dome Bills of Interest to Credit Unions in State Legislature (Issue 1 of 5)
The fast pace of the legislative session requires an emphasis on lobbying against negative impacts on the credit union industry, but GCUA is also working toward passage of two positive pieces of legislation.

  State Legislative Activity and the Week Ahead (Issue 2 of 5)
The Legislature is scheduled to meet four days next week, in addition to holding multiple hearings. Several bills have been added to the tracking system for bills being monitored on behalf of credit unions.

  Contact NCUA to Support Proposed FOM Changes (Issue 3 of 5)
There is still time to submit a message to NCUA in support of its proposed changes in field of membership rules, but the deadline for comment, February 8, is quickly approaching.

  Home Depot/Visa Alternative Settlements (Issue 4 of 5)
Legal counsel for financial institution plaintiffs in the lawsuit over the Home Depot data breach advised against accepting alternative recovery offers from Visa, saying such offers fall short of compensating institutions for their losses.

  Credit Unions in the News (Issue 5 of 5)
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.

LegislatureBills of Interest to Credit Unions in State Legislature (Issue 1 of 5)

The state Legislature convened for three days this week in addition to the obligatory budget hearings, bringing the session to the 8th day as of press time.  The second week of the session is generally "off" for budget hearings; however, the legislative pace is quicker this year due to the elections. This advanced pace will continue, and the Legislature is scheduled through February 1st (and rumored to be out by March 24th). From a lobbying perspective, the fast pace and schedule favors defensive work against negative issues and less in favor of procuring successful passage of legislation. However, GCUA has been in regular discussions with legislators to advance two priority bills of interest to the industry:

Credit Union Clarification for Lending/Operation Procedures
GCUA continues to pursue movement of the Unauthorized Practice of Law Exemption Clarification Bill for Credit Unions, HB 759  by Rep. Wendell Willard (R-Sandy Springs). Credit unions have not been included by definition in the unauthorized practice of law exemption for financial institution operations since the law’s creation years ago (this is the exemption that by practice, allows credit unions to lend, initiate HELOCs, discuss issues with members, or address compliance issues without an attorney present).

From an operational standpoint credit unions have been treated as though they were included in the exemption – however, by the letter of the law, they are not. This bill was introduced by Rep. Willard at the request of GCUA to proactively improve the definition in existing law, and help clarify it to protect credit unions in their operations.  This bill has been assigned to the House Judiciary Committee for consideration, which is its next step in the legislative process.

Georgia Garnishment Process Legislation
GCUA has been in regular discussions with Sen. Jesse Stone (R-Waynesboro) on the bill to correct Georgia’s garnishment process (SB 255). This legislation is a priority for Georgia credit union interests as in 2015 a federal judge ruled the garnishment statute unconstitutional, thereby halting ALL garnishments altogether in some counties, and spreading to more areas of the state. This bill is the byproduct of a working group that met throughout the off session to overhaul the entire garnishment statue – so operational changes are to be anticipated if and when the correction is passed (as much of the judge's decision was on financial institutions respond to garnishments, and a lack of notice in regard to the consumer).

Other changes of note for credit unions: a one-day/24-hour window of time in which a garnishment period begins and ends (for those served on a financial institution), and the timeframe in which to respond to a summons between one and 10 days after service (or immediately if the credit union does not have any money of the defendant in question). GCUA continues work on this issue to ensure that a correction is passed,  and that the correction is not burdensome to credit unions. While legislation can and does change often through the process, throughout the session it will be imperative to ensure what is being sought by the Legislature does not change the law to suddenly require that only attorneys to be utilized in responding to garnishments. This bill has been assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee for consideration – again, just one of many steps in the legislative process.

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ChamberState Legislative Activity and the Week Ahead (Issue 2 of 5)

Next week the state Legislature will be in session Monday through Thursday, with multiple hearings of interest scheduled and the ninth annual credit union state governmental affairs day/Grassroots Academy on Tuesday the 26th. Watch for next week’s edition of Creating Influence for an overview of what the event held for those credit unions in attendance.  Seeking an avenue to stay informed? Creating Influence, the GCUAGov Twitter feed, and the Grassroots Academy are all resources at your credit union’s disposal, as well as the tracking system for all bills monitored on behalf of credit unions. Some of the new bills introduced this week added to tracking were:

In addition, remember – all bills that did not pass in 2015 are still eligible in 2016. One of these was debated on Thursday, January 21st in the House Judiciary Committee hearing:  HB 381 by Rep. Andy Welch (R-McDonough).  This bill seeks to overhaul the process by which one becomes a notary public, and would require training as well as detailed record-keeping by the notary.

There will be many more issues. We are still at the onset of the session, and attempts by retail associations/lobbying interests to mandate chip-and-PIN cards at financial institutions are still anticipated – something that GCUA has been working against since early fall of 2015. Stay tuned.

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NCUA logoContact NCUA to Support Proposed FOM Changes (Issue 3 of 5)

While it was a slow week for Congress in Washington, D.C., this week with the House in recess, and the Senate not considering anything of relevance to credit unions, there’s great activity on the national regulatory front.  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 is approaching quickly:  February 8, 2016. GCUA sent out a call-to-action reminder last week 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.

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Home DepotHome Depot/Visa Alternative Settlements (Issue 4 of 5)

On January 20th legal counsel held a conference call for financial institution plaintiffs regarding settlement offers from Visa regarding the Home Depot data breach lawsuit. Counsel for the financial institutions that brought the class action hosted the call to discuss alternative recovery offers (AROs) that Visa is submitting to financial institutions, and concern surrounding them. "It is clear that the compensation offered by the Visa AROs falls short of the losses sustained by financial institutions as a result of Home Depot's data breach," hosting counsel said. "In exchange, financial institutions would be required to release their claims in this litigation and forfeit any opportunity to receive additional reimbursement." Counsel recommended that financial institutions reject the AROs and not sign any additional releases or settlement offers.

Under the Visa Global Compromised Account Recovery program, financial institutions are entitled to payment without releasing any of claims against Home Depot. However, in order to retain rights in the litigation, it appears plaintiffs would need to reject the "additional payment" offered in settlement letters from Visa. In the case of the $39 million Target data breach settlement, financial institutions ultimately obtained significantly greater compensation in court compared with settlements offered by card providers, counsel noted. Stay tuned!

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NewsCredit Unions in the News (Issue 5 of 5)

Credit unions continue to earn media coverage statewide and beyond. Whether it is 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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