|Diana Dykstra, President and CEO of the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues|
DYKSTRA: A 'POSITIVE' GAC VISIT
updated 03/01/13 10:38 AM
CUs Leave 'Strong Impression,' She Says
Like many of you, I was among the 4,200 credit union advocates in Washington, D.C. this week for the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) Governmental Affairs Conference. If you've been keeping up with the news, you have heard how Washington is filled with partisan disputes over the issue of sequestration. While that is true, I'm glad to also report that legislators on both sides of the political aisle were willing to hear our message.
Sequestration is definitely on many legislators' minds, as well as ours since it could seriously impact many credit union members either directly or indirectly. However, we were able to address other important issues—most urgently, preserving credit unions tax status and member business lending (MBL).
Any attempt to tax credit unions affects our very viability, and while we don't foresee an attack on our tax exemption, we want to shore up support in case of any eleventh-hour moves. Our efforts to raise the MBL cap received a boost last month when bipartisan MBL legislation was reintroduced in the House. There are also signals that some type of Senate action on MBL may take place soon, though it is not a certainty.
We also discussed supplemental capital, privacy notifications, and housing finance reform in many GAC visits. We voiced support for The Capital Access for Small Businesses and Jobs Act, which Rep. Brad Sherman, D-CA, recently reintroduced in the House. The bill would permit the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) to allow credit unions to accept additional forms of capital, and is identical to legislation introduced last session. Rep. Sherman also recently reintroduced The Eliminate Privacy Notice Confusion Act, which would make significant improvements in privacy notices for consumers. CUNA and the League support this legislation. The political debate over housing finance reform is still taking shape, but we are working to ensure that credit unions get their rightful place in the discussion.
It’s exciting to note that we had four California legislative champions speaking on the main stage, which was very encouraging; Kevin McCarthy, Ed Royce, Brad Sherman, and Maxine Waters. Some of our members had brief but positive interactions with Rep. Maxine Waters, D-CA, the ranking Democrat on the House Financial Services Committee and a co-sponsor of the House MBL bill. Also, our League held a successful fundraiser for another of the House co-sponsors, Rep. John Campbell (R-CA), who was very gracious.
Overall, the tone from the lawmakers we visited was more positive than in the last two years. Once again, I saw that with a focused message and a strong turnout, credit unions can cut through the political clamor and leave a strong impression. Participating in events like GAC and the Government Relations Rally (GRR) turns lukewarm credit union supporters into good ones, and good supporters into great ones. Thank you for your support, and let's continue reaching out whenever we can.