|L-R: Ron Stratman, Chief Marketing Officer for California CU; Assemblyman Mike Gatto, D-Los Angeles; Diana Dykstra, President and CEO of the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues; and Ron McDaniel, CEO of California CU and Chairman of the Leagues' Government Relations Committee|
|Travis CU CEO Patsy Van Ouwerkerk (left) discusses credit union financial literacy efforts with Catherina Nou, capitol director for Assemblywoman Mariko Yamada, D-Solano.|
|California Credit Union League Chairman and San Diego County CU CEO Teresa Halleck (left)—along with Cabrillo CU CEO Robin Lentz (right)—talk with Bridget Kolakosky, legislative director for Assemblywoman Toni Atkins, D-San Diego.|
GRR: FIN. LITERACY MONTH SHOWCASED
updated 04/26/13 01:49 PM
Legislators Experience CU Philosophy
Credit union CEOs, executives, and board directors filled the halls of the California state capitol building during the 2013 California Government Relations Rally (GRR) last week, impressing upon assembly members and senators the successful financial literacy efforts credit unions are accomplishing within their districts.
CU Members, Districts, and Financial Literacy
Almost 80 participants—with fact sheets in hand detailing their respective credit union's outreach to local schools and organizations—discussed with lawmakers and legislative aides how credit unions are making a difference in local communities. Headlining their visit was the fact that April is Financial Literacy Month, giving credit unions an even bigger opportunity to spotlight their conversation with member-owners and non-members alike.
Positive educational programs weren't the only subject in focus, as CEOs also talked about the effort credit unions make to work with members during times of dire financial need, whether it's a car loan, mortgage, or other types of credit.
Several lawmakers and aides were receptive, acknowledging the credit union movement's continuing success on this front. Many said they realized credit unions work under a different philosophy than banks since the movement is built on a cooperative member-owned structure.
CEOs and board directors extended a welcoming hand to lawmakers, inviting them to visit their credit unions in the coming year. New relationships were forged with freshman members of the legislature, and ongoing relationships with incumbents were strengthened.
A New Political Environment
During the morning's briefing, California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues Vice President of State Government Affairs Melissa Ameluxen said there are 39 new assembly members and senators this year—and because of new California legislation passed by voters in 2012, these legislators' terms are 12 years instead of the usual 6 years incumbent lawmakers have been working under. The longer period gives members of both houses more time to craft legislation.
Although a democratic super-majority exists in both houses, it still takes two-thirds of the entire legislature to pass significant pieces of legislation. This new backdrop gives credit unions insight into the possible political challenges ahead as the state prepares to deal with a number of issues, including health care, privacy, the environment, and taxation.
So far this year, there have been 67 bills introduced—some eliminated, some mitigated, and some being watched by the Leagues—which would have impacted, or may still affect, credit unions. They include debt forgiveness, escheatment, university and college contracts, Iran sanctions, taxes on recorded losses, recovery of property, privacy policies, oral disclosures, repayment of California Department of Financial Institution (DFI) loans, and other issues.
The "hot topic" with both republicans and democrats is payday lending, an area some credit unions have used to teach members good habits regarding paying down debt.
Fundraiser for Assemblyman
In between legislative visits, a group of attendees joined the California Credit Union League Political Action Committee (PAC) in the Leagues' Sacramento office just blocks away from the capitol building to raise money for Assemblyman Mike Gatto, D-Los Angeles. Gatto is chairman of the Assembly Appropriations Committee and also serves on the Assembly Banking and Finance Committee.
A proven credit union friend, Gatto said he understands the unique roll credit unions play in their communities.
He was elected to office in a June 2010 special election. He represents Assembly District 43, which includes the cities of Burbank, Pasadena, Glendale, La Canada Flintridge, and parts of Los Angeles.
'Extremely Valuable' Support
Earlier that day, Leagues President and CEO Diana Dykstra and other League staff gave an update on system-wide credit union issues, including foreclosure legislation in several different states, as well as the possibility of Congress discussing the credit union industry's federal income tax exemption in light of ongoing U.S. fiscal budget issues. The Leagues remain committed to the success and survival of the industry, she said.
"Your support on this day is extremely valuable as we build relationships with individuals locally in the state—some of whom may eventually run for Congress and move to Washington, D.C. in the future," Dykstra said. "Your hard work really shows when our state legislators are glad to see us and want to talk with us. Keep up the good work."