CUNA Reinforcements Welcomed in D.C.
That was the send off attendees of CUNA's National Hike the Hill received at a Capitol Hill reception on the eve of their lobbying visits, which coincided with House consideration of regulatory restructuring legislation.
Most of those attendees interviewed by Credit Union Times said they planned to focus on explaining the unintended consequences of well-intentioned legislation to lawmakers during their meetings.
"We are worried about the duplication of regulation," said Kelly Diven, the president/CEO of 66 Federal Credit Union in Bartlesville, Okla. "We already have regulations like the Bank Secrecy Act, and all that some of the new proposals will do is drive up costs."
He noted that in the last few years, compliance has been so burdensome that his 53,000-member $510 million credit union had to hire a full-time compliance person, and the amount of work increases each year.
CUNA was urging its attendees to focus on keeping mortgage cram-downs out of the legislation, on opposing changes to interchange fees and overdraft protection programs and on raising the cap on member business loans.
"Our most effective lobbyists are constituents who understand and know the member and the district or state," said CUNA Senior Vice President for Legislative Affairs John Magill.
Approximately 250 people attended the reception and CUNA said it expected more than 600 people to lobby their lawmakers during the two-day event.
Rep. Paul Kanjorski (D-Pa.) rallied attendees by urging them to be aggressive in making their case. He said that if "you are as good salesmen as you usually are and are obnoxious about it," there is a good chance they will succeed in persuading lawmakers about the merits of their case.
Mark Cummins, president/CEO of the Minnesota Credit Union League said he receives a lot of comments from members about proposed legislation that would more closely regulate overdraft protection program and force people to opt in.
"They have serious concerns about the effect on their revenue stream and also on the choices available to their members," Cummins said.
He also said efforts by retailers to reduce interchange fees that card issuers can charge would "upset our business model and deprive consumers of choice and we will convey that in our meetings."