SEPTEMBER 23, 2016
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U.S. Capitol Georgia Credit Unions Hike the Hill in D.C. (Issue 1 of 5)
This year's fall Hike the Hill event, involving representatives of 16 Georgia credit unions and GCUA, focused on re-educating Congress members on credit unions' core beliefs and positive impact on their members' lives.

  'Alternative to the Dodd-Frank Act' Bill Passes Committee (Issue 2 of 5)
The U.S. House Financial Services Committee passed the Financial CHOICE Act, a bill with several provisions positive for credit unions, including regulatory relief and less-stringent requirements concerning mortgage lending.

  Looking Ahead to the State Legislative Session (Issue 3 of 5)
Ahead of the state legislative session, which opens on Jan. 9, credit union advocacy takes forms such as participation in legislators' fundraisers, monitoring of study committe hearings, and building connections with other industries.

  Voter Registration Days at Credit Union (Issue 4 of 5)
Atlanta's BOND Community CU has been encouraging involvement in the political process by holding a twice-weekly voter registration drive at the credit union, an effort scheduled to continue until the Oct. 11 registration deadline.

  Credit Unions in the News (Issue 5 of 5)
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: Sherry Saxon, Augusta Metro FCU; Pat Conn, United 1st FCU; Chris Heape, CGR CU; Laura King, LGE Community CU; Laura Sterling, Georgia’s Own CU; Phyllis Cochran, Augusta VAH FCU; Don Hill, Memorial Health CU
Georgia Credit Unions Hike the Hill in D.C. (Issue 1 of 5)

More than 20 Georgia credit union advocates representing 16 credit unions and GCUA descended on Washington, D.C., this week for the annual Hike the Hill. This event places credit unions in direct contact with federal legislators and key staff to discuss the issues, and to illustrate how credit unions help people afford life every day. Unique for this year’s Hike was a focus not on obtaining co-sponsors for a specific bill or halt a negative amendment, but rather a tailored re-education of members of Congress on the core beliefs of credit unions, their positive impact on Georgia, and what makes credit unions truly different. As credit unions ARE different in the financial marketplace, their legislative needs are different to be able to serve consumers (and keep up with consumer demand for new technologies, products and quality service). During this re-education, the dialogue naturally lent itself to driving home the importance of protecting member data, achieving some sensible regulatory relief for credit unions, pushing for the opportunity to provide additional credit to members, and finding legislative avenues to maintain the financial strength of credit unions both now and in the future.

These regular visits to Washington, D.C., by credit unions are vital in pursuing issues for the industry and pursuing clear passage for the legislative and regulatory issues of importance. Our thanks to Augusta Metro FCU, Augusta VAH FCU, CGR CU, Delta Community CU, DOCO CU, Georgia United CU, Georgia’s Own CU, Kinetic CU, LGE Community CU, MembersFirst CU, Memorial Health CU, North Georgia CU, Peach State FCU, Platinum FCU, United 1st FCU, and United Methodist Connectional FCU for taking the time to travel to D.C. to educate Congress and counteract the negative messages propagated by the bankers’ lawsuit against NCUA.

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'Alternative to the Dodd-Frank Act' Bill Passes Committee (Issue 2 of 5)

Capitol stepsOn September 13th the U.S. House Financial Services Committee passed the Financial CHOICE Act (H.R. 5983) by a narrow 30-26 vote. This "alternative to the Dodd-Frank Act" bill contains a number of provisions positive for credit unions. CUNA submitted two letters for the hearing, one in which President/CEO Jim Nussle expressed support for a number of provisions and urged additional relief for credit unions. The second, sent with other financial trade organizations, urged committee leadership to back the provision that would repeal the Durbin Amendment. The pro-credit union provisions in the bill included:

  • Repeal of the Durbin Amendment; 
  • Altering the NCUA board structure and allowing additional NCUA budget transparency and improvements to the exam process; 
  • Changes to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) funding and leadership, as well as a number of other CFPB-related regulatory relief items; 
  • Housing policy changes that would ease Home Mortgage Disclosure Act requirements, adjust the definition of "points and fees," and provide compliance relief from certain RESPA rules for small financial institutions;
  • Protecting reporters of suspected senior abuse, and 
  • Limiting the Department of Justice’s Operation Choke Point.

CUNA also opposes some of the provisions in the bill, including ones that would bring the NCUA under the appropriations process and allow federal savings associations to operate as national banks. However, no further action is anticipated on this bill in this Congress.

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HighwayLooking Ahead to the State Legislative Session (Issue 3 of 5)

The state legislative session does not begin until January 9th, yet work has been ongoing throughout the year to ensure that credit unions can start the session in as strong position, as every session is unpredictable. This work is through the analysis of potential issues, involvement with study hearings, engagement with outside industries to establish potential coalition partners and help shape issues before they are introduced in bill form, and the continual development of relationships between credit unions and legislators. This most recent examples of these efforts:

  • On Monday, September 19th, Andy Harris, CEO of Coosa Valley FCU, along with members of his board, were engaged in the in-district fundraiser for state Representative John Meadows (R-Calhoun). Rep. Meadows holds a very powerful position in the House as the Chairman of the Rules Committee – he controls what bills actually can be voted on on the House floor. Having a strong relationship with all legislators is important to the success of advocacy, and even more so to have strong relationships with those in direct control of the issues that move forward. Thank you to Coosa Valley FCU and their board for representing all credit unions at this event!
  • On Tuesday, September 20th GCUA was on hand for the Senate hearing on Data Security and Privacy. This is another off-session "study committee" designed to look at how the state can have stronger protections for their data, and what, if anything, the state could introduce on a legislative front. The hearing focused on the growing demand to educate individuals to work in the data security field, vulnerabilities with using mobile phones, the need for large companies to employ a Chief Information Security Officer (CISO), as well as the multi-layered approach businesses should take to protect their IT systems and data. However, based on a few questions raised in the hearing it is apparent that retailers are continuing to push for a mandate in Georgia to require all transaction cards to be chip-and-PIN. Stay tuned!
  • On Thursday, September 22nd GCUA joined an informal work group of outside lobbying interests studying financial exploitation provisions. This meeting provided the opportunity to build connections with outside industries who have other legislative motivations, and obtain a sense of what may be pursued with power of attorney statues or financial exploitation laws in the state Legislature. This meeting provided GCUA the opportunity to build connections and have an advance window to work towards minimizing the impact of any legislation that could be introduced while ensuring that consumers are protected.
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Voter registration at BOND Community FCU
Voter Registration Day at Credit Union (Issue 4 of 5)

Politics is always a personal matter, and downright polarizing at times – to the point where people would rather not discuss it or venture out on social media! However, encouraging people to vote is important. It’s the people who show up to the polls each election who decide who wins local, state and national races. Here in Georgia we’ve seen state races decided by a mere handful of voters. With more than 2 million credit union members in Georgia, by just encouraging people to vote it engages your members and illustrates that your credit union cares about their voice.

So how does one go about engaging credit union members in the elections without alienating anyone? Easy. There are multiple ways in which credit unions can engage in encouraging their members to vote, from signs, to having ElectionWatch on their websites, to reminder messages in the phone system, to providing key voting dates in newsletters.

A fantastic example of how credit unions engage in the political process without taking a political stance is the voter-registration efforts at BOND Community FCU. BOND Community FCU has engaged its membership with a bi-weekly voter registration drive twice a week leading up to the October 11th registration deadline.

How They Did It: BOND Community FCU reached out to volunteers who offer voter registration, who set up a table in the lobby on consistent designated days, providing members access to information on how to register or update their registration, as well as the key voting dates to remember. They do not take a political stance or encourage individuals to vote one way or another – just to vote!

Why They Did It: BOND Community FCU holds registration days to encourage people to vote in the elections and exercise their right and their civic duty. So for those who aren’t registered, aren’t sure if they are registered, or have moved, it provides an easy resource, and for those who are registered it’s a great reminder to vote. Credit union CEO Craig McDonald shared their motivation for getting involved in this manner: "We don’t care who you vote for, we just want you to vote." We agree – if credit union people don’t vote, credit union people don’t count. Please share with GCUA how your credit union is engaging your members in this election!

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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’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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