JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - Cole County Circuit Court Judge Richard Callahan underscored on July 5th his March 24th decision that struck down the state's field of membership regulation, by denying a request to amend that decision.
Callahan initially had an April 24th deadline to amend his decision, but that date was pushed back twice.
Credit unions now have 10 days to appeal the judge's latest decision, and Missouri Credit Union Association Senior Vice President of Public/Legislative Affairs Peggy Nalls said CUs will file an appeal.
In addition, said Nalls, MCUA is planning to introduce legislation in the 2007 session of state Assembly "to fix the issues that caused the lawsuit to be filed in the first place by the banks."
MCUA is also pursuing the judicial path. "We feel we have a good chance on appeal, and we're optimistic the court will see our issues have merit," said Nalls. "Callahan's March 24th decision struck down the entire field-of-membership regulation," she continued. "The state credit union statute clearly gives credit unions the right to expand geographically, but Callahan's decision struck down every basis for expansion from zip codes to townships, municipalities and counties. Because his decision was so broad we feel we have a good chance in the appeals court." In addition to MCUA's efforts, the Missouri Credit Union Commission is trying to promulgate a new regulation. Nalls is hopeful the situation will not take another five years to resolve-it's already dragged on since 2001 when credit unions began implementing FOM expansions suing the definitions provided by the commission. The bankers began filing their suits challenging FOM decisions shortly after that. Until the situation is resolved though, CUs "are basically in limbo," she noted. Nalls doesn't blame the language the Credit Union Commission used in its original FOM regulation as the source of the ensuing problem. "I think the commission went forward in good faith. They took the advice of two attorneys in the state Attorney General's office and used care and concern. It's just that the attorney's for the banks interpreted the statute in a different way, and Judge Callahan sided with the banks," said Nalls, adding, "Judge Callahan's decision doesn't do justice to credit unions, consumers or the state statute." Gauging legislators' reactions to all the goings-on, Nalls observed, "They're being very thoughtful and asking for a lot of information. I'm giving them high marks for trying to understand what's going on." -