More than 300 California and Nevada leaders spent their week advocating for credit unions in meetings with congressional lawmakers and regulators in Washington, D.C., focusing on important issues that have ramifications for operations, guidance, their members, and the movement’s future.
Advocating for the Movement
During the Credit Union National Association’s (CUNA) Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC) from Sunday to Wednesday, attendees engaged in the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues’ side-gathering conversations, legislative and regulatory briefings, visits with U.S. House representatives, Senate legislators, and discussions with financial regulatory officials.
“We want to thank everyone from California and Nevada who took the time to attend this year’s GAC and advocate for our movement,” said Diana Dykstra, president and CEO of the Leagues. “We know it takes time, resources, and planning to be with your peers on Capitol Hill this week. For that, we are honored to have you represent your credit union face to face with members of Congress and regulatory leaders.”
Regulatory and Congressional Meetings
In addition to stellar speakers and guests on the GAC main stage at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, the Leagues facilitated a meeting with National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) Board Chair Todd Harper and his aides. Agency officials were urged by the Leagues and credit union executives to proceed with outstanding and future rulemakings aimed at aiding credit unions and their members, thus minimizing future regulatory burden.
Regulatory topics discussed included liquidity, the federal credit union loan interest rate ceiling, consumer compliance examinations, succession planning, and innovation and fintech partnerships.
With respect to the CFPB, a post-event meeting is being planned with bureau officials to discuss regulatory burden, focused regulations tailored to credit unions, consumer financial products and service fees, regulation by enforcement, the ability to repay (ATR)/qualified mortgage (QM) rule, small business lending rulemaking, and Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA) issues.
During legislative meetings with members of Congress, credit union leaders asked them to consider modernizing the federal credit union charter to bring it in line with multiple competitive state charters (through field-of-membership, board modernization, and member business lending/loan maturity updates). Additional topics included credit card interchange fees, preserving the credit union tax status, and regulatory burden by the CFPB.
Credit union leaders also prepared important facts and figures for congressional visits, leaving behind materials with lawmakers and their staff aides on Minority Depository Institution (MDI) status, Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) status, or Low-Income Designated Credit Union (LICU) status; local benefits of the industry’s tax exemption (give-back and direct return of value to members); financial wellbeing coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic; lower cost of fees; expanded services to low-income or rural communities; details on financial services workshops; and programs that directly or indirectly impact local communities.
A Busy Week for CUs on Capitol Hill
Other exciting news came out of Capitol Hill this week while attendees were onsite at GAC, including Sen. Alex Padilla’s (D-CA) introduction of a Central Liquidity Facility (CLF) flexibility extension bill, Padilla’s introduction of a credit union board modernization bill, and the National Credit Union Foundation’s honoring of SchoolsFirst FCU CEO Bill Cheney with the Herb Wegner Memorial Award for Outstanding Individual Achievement.
Additionally, the Credit Union Legislative Action Council’s (CULAC) GAC Grand Sweepstakes to support credit union-friendly lawmakers and candidates also experienced a huge boost this week. Nearly $258,000 was raised, with supporters from California and Nevada contributing $53,361. The monies that the Leagues and its member-credit union leaders raised represented 21 percent of CULAC’s total! California raised $46,164, and Nevada raised an impressive $7,197 — exceeding that state’s goal of $5,000.
“We want to thank all donors — those here in person and those at home — for your outstanding support during this year’s GAC Grand Sweepstakes event,” said Angelica Pappalardo, political advocacy manager for the Leagues.
Thousands of Supporters from All 50 States
This year’s GAC Crashers for “Crash the GAC” were tapped from the largest applicant pool of rising leaders in credit unions within the program’s 14-year history, including two from California and one from Nevada. Willis Chang, digital transformation officer for Kinecta FCU (California), Kat Fox, financial reporting manager for AltaOne FCU (California), and Megan Pieper, vice president of marketing for WestStar CU (Nevada), joined 55 of their peers at GAC to advocate for their credit unions — and the entire movement.
Exclusive “Crash” content focused on leadership development, credit union history, community partnerships, engagement, and key advocacy topics. Programming also included exclusive time with CUNA’s leadership and engagement teams, as well as learning through Crash debriefs (learn more about Chang, Fox, and Pieper here).
This year’s GAC saw more than 5,700 advocates from across the nation attend, making for a record-breaking event — from nearly 1,000 credit unions in all 50 states. Also in attendance and participation were 33 credit union leagues/associations, 300 system vendor-supporters, 60 young professional “crashers,” 200 speakers, and 336 exhibit hall booths. To top it all off, credit union advocates embarked on more than 600 meetings with members of Congress and other officials.
“Thank you once again to everyone who made the trek to remind members of Congress why credit unions exist, the ‘why and how’ behind our service to members, and how they, as national leaders, can play a part in enhancing the lives of their constituents — who are your members,” Dykstra said. “Credit unions can never take the pedal off the gas. We must continue our vital efforts to educate, advocate, and build consensus on our legislative and regulatory agendas.”