Kansas Credit Unions Brace for Banker-Backed FOM-Conversion 'Study'
TOPEKA, Kan. -- Kansas looks to be a new battleground this summer for bank attacks on field of membership, branch expansion and conversions with formation expected this month of a banker-inspired Interim Credit Union study in the state legislature.
Following a Kansas Bankers Association legislative campaign two years ago to clamp down on state CUs "growing beyond their mission and charter," state lawmakers are likely to clear creation of the joint House-Senate study panel with an eye toward considering restrictive legislation in 2008.
Backing for the study panel comes from an influential Kansas banker/lawmaker, Sen. Ruth Teichman, chair of the Senate Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee and director of a Stafford, Kan. bank. Teichman, a Republican whose family owns four southwestern Kansas banks, played a key role in the 2005 KBA drive for the so-called Post Audit Review of the Kansas Department of Credit Unions with criticism of agency policies allowing CU branch expansion, particularly into bankers' turf in mortgages and commercial lending. The attempt to stoke an anti-CU climate has been underway for months with circulation of the Audit Review report which claimed the department was being lax in enforcing Kansas law and was not "in conformance" with U.S. Supreme Court interpretations on FOM expansion. The Kansas Credit Union Association said it was prepared for the bank campaign with stepped up co-op ads, letter writing to lawmakers and participation in various literacy and public service ventures aimed at demonstrating the CU role in Kansas communities.
The KCUA said it expects to make use of CUNA's "Little Guy" advocacy ad package as well as other marketing materials.
The trade group said it also intends to point out the industry's active financial support of the state treasurer's "Money Smart" literacy drive to elevate financial education in public schools through summer camps and in-school curriculum.
And in April the KCUA corralled the state's largest Public Broadcasting System station in Wichita to bring the "BizKid$" literacy program to PBS affiliates across the state this fall.
Under a $2.6 million contract with producers, the BizKid$ show, financed by a broad national CU, foundation and vendor coalition and led by the Washington Credit Union League and Junior Achievement Worldwide, is slated for airing across PBS stations in September.
Regarding the Interim Study, the legislative initiative "is not all bad since it provides us a great opportunity to once again tell our story to lawmakers," said Jerel Wright, assistant vice president and head of governmental and public affairs for KCUA.
In an article appearing in the Wichita Eagle last month on the planned study, KCUA's president/CEO Marla Marsh noted the banking industry's tax-exemption complaints about unfair competition were unfounded considering the CU share of financial markets in Kansas has remained between 5-6% from 1995-2005.
The leadership of the KCUA has long anticipated an attempt by the KBA in the legislature to quash CU expansion considering the current chairman of the American Bankers Association, Earl D. McVicker, is chairman/CEO of Central Bank and Trust Co. of Hutchinson. --firstname.lastname@example.org