NOVEMBER 18, 2016
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Change 2016 Elections at the Federal Level: What Can Credit Unions Anticipate?
(Issue 1 of 5)

What significance does the recent presidential election hold for credit unions? Hard to say for sure, but here are some possibilities, according to the Credit Union National Association.

  2016 State Elections and What to Expect in 2017 Session (Issue 2 of 5)
State elections didn't get as much attention from voters as the national election, but the contests closer to home will have consequences for the industry just the same.

  State Continues Hearings on Data Security and FinTech Industry (Issue 3 of 5)
Two study committees formed by the state Legislature - one looking at financial technology issues, the other at cybersecurity - recently held their third and fourth off-session hearings, respectively.

  Building Relationships with Newly Elected Legislators
(Issue 4 of 5)

Representatives of GCUA met with State Representative-Elect Sheila Nelson of Augusta to help her develop a better understanding of credit unions and their role in improving the financial well-being of their members.

  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.

2016 Elections at the Federal Level: What Can Credit Unions Anticipate? (Issue 1 of 5)

electionsThe media (and social media) have been centered on the presidential race since well before the primaries, and continue to be solidly focused on it in the post-election.  And while news organizations and political pundits alike have been weighing in on what they think the elections mean, what does this 2016 election mean for credit unions?  For an in-depth look into the new administration and Congress, and what impact the changes may have on credit unions, utilize CUNA’s white paper on the results of the 2016 election. Highlights: 

  • The main goals and priorities of President-elect Donald Trump remain largely unknown; however, he appears to have strong support for reducing some burdensome regulations.
  • In Congress, Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID) is incoming chair of the Senate Banking Committee who may also look to seek more regulatory relief than current chair Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL).
  • Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) is expected to remain chair of the House Financial Services Committee.
  • The House Ways and Means Committee will also likely retain its chair, Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX), and some version of tax reform is likely to be a priority.  Credit unions will need to remain vigilant in their defense of the credit union income tax status.
  • CUNA expects Trump will designate NCUA board member J. Mark McWatters as chairman of the NCUA board; and
  • The CFPB may try to quickly finalize its arbitration and short-term, small-dollar lending proposals. If a new director is appointed by Trump, her or she is more likely to review and simplify current regulatory changes as opposed to publishing new rulemakings. 

Time will tell on what will transpire.  Some news outlets as late as this week have opined about the possibility that the CFPB will reorganized or dismantled, House Banking Chair Hensarling has announced he has changes for Dodd-Frank, and there have been multiple articles on what road may lie ahead for the Federal Reserve and interest rates.  But what is known is there will be changes – making the consistent message from credit unions, Leagues and CUNA to Washington, D.C., as well as the regular connections credit unions have with members of Congress, all the more important in achieving legislative successes.

How Did Georgia Credit Unions Fare in the 2016 Federal Elections?
On both the federal and state levels, Georgia credit union support has historically been nonpartisan, with focus on developing relationships within both parties and supporting candidates who support credit unions (and not getting involved in presidential races).  As such, Georgia credit unions are positioned well for years like this when there are changes in party control. 

Nationwide, CULAC-supported candidates had a 96% success rate in the general elections, and in Georgia, 100% of the candidates supported by CULAC were successful in their bids for office.  These Georgia races included all 13 incumbent Congressmen, one open House seat, and the Senate seat retained by incumbent U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson (R).  In the open Congressional race for replacing U.S. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-3), credit unions were one of the first industries to support the winner, Representative-elect Drew Ferguson (R-3), with whom credit unions met well before the primary. 

The elections also brought changes within caucus party leadership structure in Washington, D.C., and Georgia also has seen one of its legislators rise to the fifth-highest position with the U.S. House Republican caucus.  U.S. Rep. Doug Collins (R-9) was elected this week as caucus vice chair, growing the level of influence the state has within the party.  Thank you to the credit unions in the 9th District for building a relationship with Rep. Collins as soon as he was elected in 2013 to allow them to be in a good position now that he is in a leadership role!
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Georgia2016 State Elections and What to Expect in 2017 Session (Issue 2 of 5)

For the most part, this year the state races were the “forgotten fifth child” of the election cycle.  Most of the attention has been centered around the presidential race, and any banter on the state elections was not from the perspective of 2016, but rather looking ahead to the 2018 elections, with names batted about for the governor’s race and others down ticket.  Timing was also a significant factor in curbing most interest in state elections, as most of the races that were competitive were in the primary back in May, with 80 percent of the races already decided before anyone cast their vote in November’s general election.  But while the media have paid little attention to it, there are multiple aspects from the elections that will influence the next session: 

  • Fewer Newly Elected Officials Will Dictate Pace: Coming into the next 2017 legislative session will be 32 new state legislators, which is just 14 percent of the 236 individuals who represent the state in the capacity of Representative or Senator.  A smaller turnover number equates to more “business as usual” for the state Legislature, and watch for the session to hit the ground running with fewer legislators to become acclimated.
  • Caucus Leadership Changes Bode Well for Credit Unions:  Both the Senate and House party caucuses held their elections for leadership this week (which is early) and saw few changes.  The only change in the Senate is in Republican caucus chairman, which now is held by Sen. John Kennedy (R-Macon) – all other posts for both the Republicans and Democrats in the Senate remain the same.  In the House, the only change for the Republicans was the addition of Rep. Christian Coomer (R-Cartersville) to a leadership post, and with House Democrats Rep. Stacey Evans (D-Smyrna) is now caucus chairman with Rep. Bob Trammell (D-Luthersville) also added to their leadership team.  Readers of Creating Influence will recall that credit unions met with Sen. Kennedy last year and Rep. Coomer this year to grow the relationship they have with the industry, and credit unions were instrumental in holding a phone bank for Rep. Evans’ campaign just two weeks ago.    
  • Possible Changes to Committee Chairmanships: There may be some changes on the committee chairmanships, specifically on the Senate side, as the post of Insurance chairman has been vacated due to Sen. Charlie Bethel (R-Dalton)’s recent judgeship appointment.  This post is considered an attractive assignment by the legislators, so watch for a potential domino effect of chairmanships changing (and potentially changing the Senate Banking chairmanship).
  • Many Large Issues Already Have Taken Shape:  Many large issues have already taken shape, with health-care issues likely to consume much time (certificate of need, Medicaid expansion, the “bed tax”).  Along with medical, there will be education funding issues, expanding legalized gambling attempts, potential expansion to medical marijuana, the return of campus carry, broadband access for all, and of course the budget slated to consume most of the airspace at the Capitol.  And after the presidential elections, legislators of both parties are openly questioning what they could expect out of the federal government, with concern over what a dismantling of the Affordable Care Act would do to consumers, hospitals, and Medicare/Medicaid.   

How Did Credit Union-Supported State Candidates Fare in the Elections? 
There were 113 races supported by credit unions through Georgia CUPAC, which represent 48 percent of the combined Senate and House districts around Georgia.  Credit union-backed candidates were spread across the two parties and all across the state, with only five losses in primary and general (4 incumbents and one open seat).   Candidates for the state Legislature supported by CUPAC saw a 96 percent success rate.

While most districts were decided in the primary, Georgia did see an overall tightening of the more competitive districts.  Four of these districts saw a reversal in party with one Democrat incumbent unseated and three Republicans unseated, and those tight districts that did not flip were close,  particularly Rep. Brian Strickland (R-McDonough) and Sen. Hunter Hill (R-Atlanta).  GCUA was engaged with both of these individuals with PAC dollars and offers of campaign support for these races given their help to credit unions during the session offering pro-industry amendments.  

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State Continues Hearings on Data Security and FinTech Industry (Issue 3 of 5)

CapitolThe state Legislature has held an influx of off-session study committees in 2016, which may be indicative of the pace that we may see in 2017 – legislators utilizing the summer and fall months to dig into issues as opposed to the three months of the session.  GCUA has been engaged in over 10 separate hearings as of late, two of the most recent of interest to credit unions: 

  • On Monday, November 7th the third FinTech study committee hearing was held, aimed at enhancing and promoting the broad financial technology sector that encompasses the payments industry in Georgia. This study committee is intended to generate legislation to ensure a positive environment for the payments industry to grow in Georgia.  What is anticipated next:  GCUA has learned that they do not intend to hold any further hearings, and that they will draft legislation soon.  It is likely that the legislation will seek special tax incentives and a focus on fintech education paths in colleges to keep up with the workforce demands. GCUA continues to work closely with this committee to monitor for changes to the payments industry, and protect against outside industries that push legislative initiatives, some of which could impact how credit unions operate now and in the future.
  • Also on Monday, November 7th the state Senate study committee on data security held its fourth hearing of the off session.  The hearing reviewed how state systems are analyzed for potential threats, what changes are on the horizon to help protect state data, and what points may be pursued in upcoming data security legislation.  The committee is slated to convene for yet another hearing next week, where the direction of potential legislation should be identified.  While this committee has been focused on increasing cybersecurity for state agencies, peppered in all of these hearings have been the points of importance of cybersecurity in the private sector, the news of large breaches at businesses, as well as protecting financial transactions. 
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ChalkboardBuilding Relationships with Newly Elected Legislators (Issue 4 of 5)

GCUA has been in interactions with newly elected state legislators, and on Monday, November 14th sat down with state Representative-Elect Sheila Nelson (D-Augusta) 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 face in the state  Legislature. Rep.-elect Nelson was eager to develop her knowledge of credit unions and their priorities in the state Legislature, and their stance on bills and issues, and is requesting to be assigned to the House Banks and Banking Committee.  Regardless what committees she receives, GCUA looks forward to growing her connection to the industry and thanks the Augusta area credit unions for generating this level of influence with their newly elected leaders!

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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."

Also in the news:  Love My Credit Union “Share the Love” video campaign voting is underway!  To vote for the Georgia credit unions please click here, and to view GCUA’s Helping People Afford life video (and vote) please click here.

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