MAY 6, 2016
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Calendar Credit Union Priority Bills Signed into Law! (Issue 1 of 6)
Much hard work and lobbying finally came to fruition when Gov. Nathan Deal signed into law two bills of particular importance to the credit union industry.

  Financial Discrimination Protection Bill for Firearms Dealers Vetoed (Issue 2 of 6)
The governor vetoed the bill, much lobbied by GCUA, that was aimed at protecting the firearms industry from discrimination by financial institutions; the bill was seen as being linked with the “campus carry” bill, which was also vetoed.

  U.S. Sen. Isakson Introduces Resolution Against Fiduciary Rule (Issue 3 of 6)
U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson of Georgia introduced a resolution opposing the Obama administration's conflict-of-interest rule for retirement investment advisers; the resolution faces a likely veto if passed.

  Credit Unions Supporting Candidates in Primary Elections (Issue 4 of 6)
Credit union people are providing valuable support to candidates running abbreviated campaigns in the brief window between the end of the legislative session and the May 24 primary election.

  Get Social Next Week at GCUA Annual Meeting (Issue 5 of 6)
Those interested in keeping up with next week's GCUA Annual Convention can do so by following along on Twitter and Instagram, using the hashtag #cuinsavannah.

  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.

Credit Union Priority Bills Signed into Law! (Issue 1 of 6)

Governor Nathan Deal’s office has completed the final analysis of all the bills that passed the state Legislature in the 2016 session, signing or having the bills automatically become law this week. While media attention was centered on the veto of the “campus carry” bill, there were a large volume of bills decided on this final day, including two credit union priority bills. GCUA is pleased to share that all of the lobbying and work has paid off, as these two bills have become law:

PensThe Credit Union Clarification for Lending/Operation Procedures Bill 
HB 759 by Rep. Wendell Willard (R-Sandy Springs) was signed into law; this legislation was lobbied heavily throughout the session to move it forward as it is beneficial to every credit union in the state:

  • It clarifies that credit unions are included in the unauthorized practice of law exemption for financial institution operations, which is the exemption that allows credit unions to lend, initiate HELOCs, discuss issues with members, and address compliance issues without requiring an attorney to be present.
  • Rep. Willard introduced this credit union-specific bill at the request of GCUA to proactively improve the definition in existing law, and protect credit unions in their operations. 

Credit Union Law Enhancements in the Department of Banking and Finance's Housekeeping Bill 
HB 811 by Rep. Bruce Williamson (R-Monroe) was signed into law and creates multiple revisions to the law that that applies to credit unions, banks and other financial entities:

  • Streamlines the federal parity section for credit unions that was successfully procured in 2015,
  • Outlines a set process by which a credit union can remove or suspend a director,
  • Creates a basis for the department's purview over virtual currency,
  • Outlines a procedure for credit unions to hold real estate in specific instances subject to a majority vote of its directors without prior approval of the department, and
  • Removes prohibitions for state-chartered institutions against a fee for checks drawn on that institution.
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Gov. Nathan Deal
Financial Discrimination Protection Bill for Firearms Dealers Vetoed (Issue 2 of 6)

It is not uncommon for the Governor to veto bills; he generally vetoes a handful each year. Yet the vetoes of 2016 generated more media attention than those bills that were signed due to the polarized viewpoints on both sides on multiple issues. However, one of the vetoes that did not get much attention was HB 1060 by Rep. Rick Jasperse (R-Jasper), one of the various gun bills in the Legislature that became the “vehicle” in the final days of the session for the Firearms Dealer and Manufacturer Discrimination Act SB 282 by Sen. Jesse Stone (R-Waynesboro). Readers of Creating Influence will recall that this was lobbied heavily by GCUA throughout the process to obtain amendments and remove language that would have negatively impacted credit unions.

What the bill was: SB 282 is pursued by the gun industry in states around the country to send a message to the federal government and regulators against "Operation Choke Point" actions. The bill originally would have allowed a private right of action lawsuit against credit unions or banks that discriminate against a gun retail establishment by refusing or ceasing to serve. That private right of action lawsuit language was removed due to concerns of credit unions and others in testimony, and instead directed the Attorney General’s office to investigate those accused of discrimination. HB 1060 was the bill the gun industry added it to to get it through the Legislature (not an uncommon move by the Legislature, and one of the reasons GCUA monitors hundreds of bills).

What else was changed in the bill: After the lawsuit language was removed, GCUA continued to work against the gun industry to obtain specific amendments for credit unions that outline that it is not considered discrimination to follow law, regulation, or for denial of service due to membership restrictions. In addition, the bill was also amended to create parity between state and federal charters – if federal regulators pre-empt federal charters from the reach of the bill, state-chartered institutions would have an avenue to be pre-empted as well. That version with the credit union protections was what was inserted into HB 1060 in the final days of the session.

Why it was vetoed: The Governor’s statement on the veto referenced breaches of a compromise contained in a previous gun bill that allowed guns in churches. But from an insider’s viewpoint: HB 1060 had become the “catch-all” gun bill to house a variety of firearms issues and bills that had not made it through the process, including the above SB 282 that GCUA lobbied. HB 1060 was also the bill that was thought to address the Governor’s public concerns on the “campus carry” bill, but those amendments were not considered. As such, general consensus by political players was that HB 1060 was in tandem with the campus carry issue - if vetoed, so would HB 1060.

What this veto means for credit unions: The bill that had been sent to the Governor contained all the hard-fought amendments and protections for credit unions, and with the veto nothing changes. From that perspective, it’s positive. Credit unions were protected by the amendments obtained in the process if the bill had become law, and without the bill becoming law it makes it a non-issue, for now. Therein lies the challenge, but a typical one that is faced each year as there is no limit to what can be introduced. If and when this bill is pursued again by the gun industry, the fight will resume with no guarantees on what language the bill will hold. With 2017 being a non-election year, it may not be an attractive issue for the gun industry to pursue. However, if your credit union serves firearms dealers/manufacturers in the normal course of business, please let us know. Credit unions were referenced in hearing testimony as some of the entities that discriminated against firearms dealers/manufacturers, and our continual effort dispelling that sound bite is key to protecting our industry.

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IsaksonU.S. Sen. Isakson Introduces Resolution Against Fiduciary Rule (Issue 3 of 6)

The Morning Consult reported that Georgia’s senior U.S. Senator, Sen. Johnny Isakson (R), introduced a resolution on April 18th that would block the Obama administration’s conflict-of-interest rule for retirement investment advisers. The resolution is an official rebuke of the Department of Labor fiduciary rule under the Congressional Review Act. It marks a step beyond existing congressional efforts to pre-empt the rule through legislation in both chambers of Congress, including S. 2502, which Isakson has championed. While thirty-two GOP senators support the resolution, the path forward is unclear as it would almost certainly be vetoed if it passes.

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Credit Unions Supporting Candidates in Primary Elections (Issue 4 of 6)

Credit unions across Georgia are making an impact on the 2016 primary elections by getting involved. Engaging with candidates through physical campaign support is a powerful action; it strengthens relationships with elected officials and helps support those candidates who go out of their way to support credit unions. By getting involved with campaigns as an industry, it grows the legislative influence for all credit unions.

With the primary elections early on May 24th and the state Legislature working up until March 24th, it creates a narrow window of time to run a campaign (much less catch up to competition who have been working all year). And many races ONLY have primary competition, which equates to whoever wins in May takes the seat. Because of the narrow window and challenging primaries, the efforts of credit unions have been timely and needed in multiple races:

Platinum FCU CEO Kabir Laiwalla, second from left, and team supporting the campaign of State Rep. Brett Harrell
  • U.S. Rep. Doug Collins (R-9):  Rep. Collins is in a five-way primary race for the Congressional district representing the northeastern part of the state, with no general competition. With this many opponents, and one of them a previous Congressman himself with strong name recognition, a runoff between two of the candidates is likely. Credit unions in Collins’ district engaged to ensure that he is one of the two (or wins outright) through partisan communications – mailers to members. Our thanks to Associated CU, Atlanta Postal CU, Georgia’s Own CU, Hallco Community CU, North Georgia CU, and Peach State FCU for participating; their involvement connects Rep. Collins to almost 50,000 members in the district!
  • State Rep. Brooks Coleman (R-Duluth): Rep. Coleman is one of only four credit union board members who serve in the state Legislature, and is helpful in shaping the opinions of others in the state House on credit union bills. He has primary competition only, and credit unions helped with his request to place yard signs in the district. Our thanks to Atlanta Postal CU, Platinum FCU and GCUA for getting involved in his campaign!
  • State Rep. Brett Harrell (R-Snellville): Rep. Harrell serves in the leadership of two state legislative committees that are important to credit unions, one of which tackles all tax-related bills in the state Legislature. He has historically supported credit union issues and works with the GCUA lobbying team on bills to protect the industry. He only has primary competition, and credit unions helped his campaign need of placing yard signs in the district. Our thanks to Platinum FCU and GCUA staff for getting involved in his campaign!

Stay tuned for more efforts by credit union individuals and how they help shape the elections. Politics is a personal matter, but to be strategic any industry should engage in the elections. Doing so helps credit unions have a voice on legislative issues in the future; take advantage of the opportunities this election year to engage in campaigns!

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Great thingsGet Social Next Week at GCUA Annual Meeting
(Issue 5 of 6)

Next week credit unions all across the state descend on Savannah for the GCUA Annual Convention. This year’s theme, Do Great Things, embodies the positive way that credit unions touch the lives of members – and illustrates how credit unions can and do make a difference. This event offers a combination of individualized educational programming for executives, professionals and board members, networking, and a wide lineup of keynote speakers to help chart out how credit unions can continue to do good things!

Attending, want to attend, or want to get an idea of what the Annual Convention is in general? Get social and follow the meeting as it unfolds:

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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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