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Seeds Sowing Seeds for the Future: Credit Unions Meet with State Sen. Mike Dugan (Issue 1 of 6)
Representatives of three Georgia credit unions located in the district of state Sen. Mike Dugan, along with GCUA staff, met with Sen. Dugan to build relationships and share insights on issues important to the industry.

  Bank Trade Group Sues NCUA over Member Business Lending (Issue 2 of 6)
A trade association for community banks sued the National Credit Union Association over NCUA's rule on member business lending, saying the rule adopted in February is a threat to community banks' lending business.

  Building Relationships with Legislators in the Districts
(Issue 3 of 6)

Recent examples of grassroots relationship-building incude North Georgia Credit Union board members' help with a Hartwell legislator's fund-raiser and a meeting between GCUA staff and an Atlanta representative new to the Legislature.

  Weighing the Issues: State Hearings on Tax Reform, Cybersecurity & CU Legislative Survey (Issue 4 of 6)
Recent legislative study committee hearings, held in advance of the next legislative session, focused on proposed Georgia tax reforms and on the hot issue of cybersecurity.

  CUNA Joins Fair Housing Act Supreme Court Brief to Help Protect Credit Unions (Issue 5 of 6)
The Credit Union National Association joined other trade organizations in filing a friends-of-the-court brief in a U.S. Supreme Court case that raises questions about the scope of the Fair Housing Act.

  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.

From left: Brandee Bickle, GCUA; Lisa Herndon, Associated CU; State Sen. Mike Dugan; Penny Womble, Georgia’s Own CU; Terry Hardy, MembersFirst CU
Sowing Seeds for the Future: Credit Unions Meet with State Sen. Mike Dugan (Issue 1 of 6)

On Tuesday, September 6th credit unions met with state Senator Mike Dugan (R-Carrollton) to expand the relationship he has with the industry. Sen. Dugan has been quietly making his way up the ranks in the Senate, presently serving as one of the Governor’s floor leaders, and is primed for future growth in leadership. While he knows the GCUA lobbying team from his time at the Capitol since 2013, this meeting was held specifically to further the relationships he has with the credit unions located in his district. It is important that credit unions continue their relationship development with legislators, as it is better to create these connections early in their careers.

Credit union leaders from Associated CU, Georgia’s Own CU, MembersFirst CU and GCUA shared their insight on legislative issues, local politics, industry issues, and how credit unions engage with their members to help improve their financial situations (and credit scores!). Thank you to the credit unions for joining and establishing positive personal relationships. Helping Sen. Dugan have a well-rounded understanding of what makes credit unions unique is beneficial to future advocacy efforts, and this meeting helped grow his personal connections.

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NCUABank Trade Group Sues NCUA over Member Business Lending (Issue 2 of 6)

On September 7th, one of the two main national bank trade associations filed a lawsuit against the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) on the member business lending (MBL) rule, which the bankers argue creates massive loopholes that violate the will of Congress. The Hill reported that the Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA) filed a legal challenge against regulations issued by NCUA. In it the group warned that the MBL rule completed in February makes it easier for credit unions to engage in business lending and threatens to unfairly cut into community banking business, while circumventing statutory language governing credit unions.

In February, the NCUA unanimously finalized the rule expanding the lending exemption. The rule change was presented as a shift from overly specific rules for credit unions to a more holistic approach that will allow credit unions to manage their portfolios in a way that suits their particular needs. But community banks, wary of credit unions gaining an advantage in attracting business, argue the new rule is effectively a massive loophole to allow credit unions to get around their lending caps. Stay tuned - this recent development will make the upcoming credit union visits to Washington, D.C., for the September Hike the Hill all the more important to provide a perspective other than the ICBA’s to the Georgia Congressional delegation.

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Building Relationships with Legislators in the Districts (Issue 3 of 6)

BlocksStrong (and multiple) relationships between an industry and elected leaders is imperative for creating legislative success; as such regular effort is dedicated to help expand the connections legislators have with credit unions in this state. These connections happen at legislative meetings, town halls, civic organizations, political events, church – any type of personal interaction that draws the connection to credit unions in the district. Here are two recent examples of how this happens, and how it helps the industry (In addition to the above meeting with Sen. Dugan):

  • On Monday, August 29th board members from North Georgia CU were involved in the in-district fundraiser for state Representative Alan Powell (R-Hartwell). The credit union has consistently engaged with Rep. Powell’s event over the past several years, connecting an existing key contact relationship at the fundraisers to emphasize the credit union presence in his district and demonstrate support. Rep. Powell is one of the chairmen in the House, and also serves on three committees that tackle issues for credit unions regularly: Rules, Regulated Industries, and Motor Vehicles (any bill that touches auto lending often comes through this committee). Thank you to North Georgia CU and their board for having a strong connection!
  • On Friday, August 26th GCUA sat down with state Representative Park Cannon (D-Atlanta) to grow her understanding of the industry and the positive impact it has on consumers, the unique manner in which credit unions are structured, and the legislative issues they often face in the state legislature. To say Rep. Cannon is new is an understatement – she joined the state Legislature at the end of February of this year in a special election and has just a few weeks’ session experience. Rep. Cannon reached out to GCUA to request this meeting to develop her knowledge of credit unions and their stance on bills and issues. And while she’s new, she’s someone who is seeking to grow, and her connection to the industry will continue to grow.

Whether it is expanding existing relationships and emphasizing the personal connection of credit unions, or sitting down with a new legislator to develop their understanding of the industry, it’s an action that helps all credit unions in future initiatives. The more legislators understand and have personal connections to credit unions from their home districts, the stronger the grassroots influence on the legislation that can impact the industry.

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Weighing the Issues: State Hearings on Tax Reform, Cybersecurity & CU Legislative Survey
(Issue 4 of 6)

The months leading up to the end of the year are peppered with state legislative “study committees,” where legislators gather to hear presentations that potentially turn into future bills. These hearings have ranged from health-care issues, education, the financial technology industry, taxation, even space flight. Two of the most recent:

  • On Friday, August 26th the State Senate Finance subcommittee on Tax Reform held another hearing, this time in Macon, to hear another presentation on how the state could potentially shift to more of a sales and use tax structure as opposed to income tax. While these hearings have taken place over the past three years, a non-election year could be more advantageous to make any changes to tax code. However, any overhaul of Georgia’s tax system presently faces steep opposition from key statewide leadership due to how it could impact the state’s bond rating. Stay tuned.
  • On Tuesday, August 30th senators also met to hear presentations on cybersecurity at what are considered hot “target points” (power, communications, and education). While the senators were looking for what (if anything) the state could do to help either raise awareness of the importance, create solutions, the presenters emphasized that there is no single solution, and that that the state should not outline prescriptive regulatory burdens on businesses in an effort to act where Congress has not.

SurveyFall not only provides legislators the opportunity to weigh in on potential issues for 2017, but for credit unions as well. On September 1st credit unions were asked to provide input with the Legislative and Regulatory survey. This survey helps provide insight into the legislative and regulatory issues on the horizon, and helps shape the advocacy priorities for the future. The 10 survey topics reflect just some of the issues that will likely be addressed in the 2017 year; if you have not taken the survey yet please do so here by September 30th.

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Supreme CourtCUNA Joins Fair Housing Act Supreme Court Brief to Help Protect Credit Unions (Issue 5 of 6)

CUNA joined with other trade organizations to file an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court regarding a lawsuit that raises important questions about the scope of the Fair Housing Act. CUNA filed an amici curiae brief in April in City of Miami v. Wells Fargo and City of Miami v. Bank of America, and the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case in June.

The city of Miami brought suit against the two banks arguing that discriminatory actions against city residents entitles the city to damages for indirect harm. The city argued that foreclosures and other events stemming from unfavorable mortgages resulted in lost revenue from lower property taxes and other incurred expenses. CUNA warned that the lower court ruling could set a bad precedent that would allow other entities, such as neighboring residents, municipalities and even local businesses, to maintain suits against financial institutions, even if the entity never had any direct dealings with a credit union or bank.

The 11th Circuit Court previously decided that Miami had a claim against the two banks, which led CUNA to join with other trade organizations to urge the Supreme Court to reverse the decision. Since the city of Miami is claiming injury that is economic in nature, rather than the FHA mandate of preventing discrimination, CUNA believes that the damages claimed by Miami are “neither necessary nor appropriate in enforcing the [FHA’s] important anti-discrimination efforts.”

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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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