APRIL 22, 2016
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Learn more Garnishment Overhaul Bill Signed into Law - Join GCUA Compliance Call to Learn New Process (Issue 1 of 6)
Georgia's governor signed into a law a bill to reform the state's garnishment process. A GCUA conference call has been scheduled to explain the new law and how it will affect credit unions.

 
     
  Educating Congress on Credit Unions Prior to Tax Reform Hearings (Issue 2 of 6)
In advance of a U.S. House Ways and Means subcommittee hearing on tax reform, credit union advocates worked to educate legislators on the credit union system and the value of the credit union tax exemption.

 
  Legislative Night at Augusta Chapter (Issue 3 of 6)
The Augusta Credit Union Chapter hosted several area legislators and other officials at its April 21 meeting, giving credit union advocates an opportunity to build relationships and influence for the industry.

 
  Credit Unions Meet with Candidate for Open Congressional Seat (Issue 4 of 6)
Campaigning is under way for federal, state and local races, providing credit unions the opportunity to engage and grow their level of influence. Representatives of two Georgia credit unions did so through meeting with a candidate in the highly contested race for the open 3rd Congressional District seat.

 
  Four Credit Union Board Members Running for State House May 24th (Issue 5 of 6)
Four Georgia credit union board members are among the candidates for state House posts in the May 24 primary. All are incumbents; two have opponents in the primary, while the other two face no opposition and will automatically retain their seats.

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

 
 
 
LearnGarnishment Overhaul Bill Signed into Law – Join GCUA Compliance Call to Learn New Process (Issue 1 of 6)

One of the priority state bills for credit unions, the Garnishment Process Overhaul Bill (SB 255) by Sen. Jesse Stone (R-Waynesboro), was signed into law by the Governor on April 12th. This bill is essential for Georgia credit unions as in 2015, a federal judge ruled the garnishment statute unconstitutional in the state, thereby halting garnishments in some counties and spreading to more areas. Key points on the bill:

  • The legislation corrects Georgia’s garnishment law through a complete rewrite of how garnishments are processed in the state (and not a small change). There will be new forms, a new process and new timeframes.
  • As this is an overhaul of the law, there will be changes in credit union procedures in processing garnishments, with new notices for financial institutions to provide (the court case centered around the lack of notice to consumers).
  • A final amendment to the bill was added on March 15th to provide credit unions and others more time to respond to garnishment notices on accounts:
    • The bill originally stated 24 hours to assess the account, but was changed to provide credit unions five days to check the account and another 10 days to respond.

This law become effective 30 days afterwards – so changes will be implemented soon, and garnishments can begin again quickly in those areas where they were stopped. To help credit unions navigate the new changes, GCUA’s Compliance area is hosting a call on April 29th at 1:30 pm that will feature attorney Adam Cleveland with Thompson O’Brien, who was on the task force that crafted the new law and helped protect credit unions throughout the pre-session meetings. Please join in the call as there will be changes to how your credit union handles garnishments moving forward.

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Educating Congress on Credit Unions Prior to Tax Reform Hearings (Issue 2 of 6)

U.S. CapitolThe U.S. House Ways and Means tax policy subcommittee met on April 13th for a second hearing on tax reform proposals. These hearings, and the time leading up to them, are critical for credit unions to re-educate legislators on structure of credit unions and the value the income tax exemption has for all consumers. Prior to the hearing, CUNA lobbied the committee on the numerous consumer benefits of credit unions and urged them to retain the tax status, highlighting three key points:

  • The tax treatment for credit unions continues to serve the purpose for which it was conveyed;
  • The tax status represents good public policy, because it causes the creation of substantial benefits to the public far in excess of its cost; and, 
  • Taxing credit unions represents a tax increase on 105 million Americans and would likely lead to the elimination of many credit unions, and an option for credit for people. Having credit unions in the marketplace has a positive impact, as credit unions help people afford life.

According to CUNA, the financial benefits that credit unions provide to both members and others amount to an estimated $11 billion in 2015 alone. “If credit unions were taxed in 2015, the receipts would have accounted for only 0.05% of 2015 federal government spending, an amount that would have funded U.S. government operations for five hours,” CUNA CEO Jim Nussle wrote to the committee. “It makes no sense to wipe out the substantial benefit Americans receive from having a credit union option for five hours of government operation.”

In the hearing there were proposal presentations from Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and Rep. Roger Williams (R-TX), as well as Thomas Barthold, chief of staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation. None of those three proposals mentioned the credit union tax status. The previous meeting saw testimony from Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), who introduced a bipartisan tax reform bill in January. CUNA continues to work to ensure that there are no new taxes on credit unions in any of these proposals.

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Augusta Chapter meetingLegislative Night at Augusta Chapter (Issue 3 of 6)

The Augusta Chapter of credit unions hosted area legislators at their meeting on Thursday, April 21st. This event was a terrific avenue to connect with the local politicians, state legislators, and federal offices and grow the level of influence for all credit unions. In attendance:

During the evening the strong advocacy efforts of the Augusta credit unions was highlighted, as well as how they help the area community – a  positive message to any elected official. Our thanks to all of the Augusta Chapter credit unions for connecting with their legislators in this manner, and building inroads with the individuals who make decisions on issues that can impact the industry!

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Ferguson and Davis
3rd District candidate Drew Ferguson, left, and Kinetic CU CEO Janet Davis
Credit Unions Meet with Candidate for Open Congressional Seat (Issue 4 of 6)

In the May 24th primary, one U.S. Senate seat, each of the 14 U.S. Representative seats, and all 236 state legislator seats are up for election. Out of these there are 22 open seats (where the individual is not seeking re-election), with only one “coveted” Washington, D.C., spot as open – the race to replace U.S. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R) for the 3rd District. Open seats for Congress typically draw a large number of candidates seeking the post, and the race for the 3rd District is no exception. There are nine individuals running in this race, ranging from local business owners to a state senator to a previous mayor. With this high number a runoff is anticipated (it’s not likely one person can garner more than 50 percent of the vote).

On Thursday, April 21st individuals from Delta Community CU, Kinetic CU and GCUA met with one of the candidates: Drew Ferguson, considered by political insiders as the "front runner" for the race. Ferguson had been the mayor of West Point since 2008 before resigning to run for Congress, and he sought to utilize time prior to the elections to get to know the credit unions in the area. This meeting helped put a face on the industry and create connections. Building relationships with individuals early can make all the difference in lobbying, as well as growing the level of understanding of those who may vote on bills that impact the industry in Congress. Our thanks to the credit unions for joining in the meeting to get to know a candidate early, and we encourage all credit unions to engage in the various campaign efforts for federal and state races when they arise in your district. Stay tuned to the next edition of Creating Influence, as some of these efforts are happening as of press time!

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ElectionsFour Credit Union Board Members Running for State House May 24th (Issue 5 of 6)

There are four credit union board members running for state office in the May 24th primary election. Each of these individuals is extremely helpful during the state session on bills of credit union interest, and helps work to shape the opinions of other legislators on these issues that can impact how the industry operates. Having board members serve in the Legislature is an asset; those who are connected with credit unions at this level have a strong understanding of the unique needs of the industry, which is extremely beneficial from a legislative perspective. These four credit union board members are:

  • State Rep. Brooks Coleman (R-Duluth); board member of Peach State FCU. He is the incumbent and has one challenger in the primary election and no challengers in the general. Whichever Republican candidate wins on May 24th wins the seat.
  • State Rep. Tom Dickson (R-Cohutta); board member of Georgia United CU. He is the incumbent, and has two challengers in the primary election and no challengers in the general, so the Republican who wins on the 24th wins the seat.
  • State Rep. Howard Mosby (D-Atlanta); board member of 1st Choice CU. He is the incumbent, and has no challengers in May or in the general election this November and retains his seat without competition.
  • State Rep. Brian Prince (D-Augusta) is an associate board member of Augusta Metro FCU. He is the incumbent, and has no challengers in either the primary or the general and retains his seat.
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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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