Fatigue and Budgets Cause Some Hike the Hill Event Cancellations
A combination of election year politics, budget constraints and Washington travel fatigue is putting a crimp into the traditional D.C. "Hike the Hill" treks conducted by state leagues during September.
Nearly half a dozen of the trade groups said they likely will bypass the D.C. trip to meet with congressmen, opting instead for local in-district meetings because many lawmakers are staying home to pursue races for the November election.
Though member business lending remains on the docket but could get side tracked, the North Carolina Credit Union League, for one, said it was calling off the trip usually led by a contingent of 20 to 25 executives and staffers since "it is unlikely that issues of major importance to credit unions will be considered."
Moreover, the North Carolina group and the Credit Union League of Connecticut said they had already made two earlier trips in 2010 to the nation's capital and travel budgeting was one of the factors in cancelling.
An exception to the trend was the Ohio Credit Union League, which said it has no intention of calling off its Washington trip scheduled for Sept. 28-29.
"We actually have more-maybe 30-going this year as compared to the 25 last year and that said something," said Paul Florian, vice president of government relations.
Moreover, the Ohio group finds the repeat value of the Washington meeting extremely critical in developing a strong legislative program and good rapport with lawmakers, said Florian.
"We think the regular excursion is vital," he added.
But the League of Southeastern Credit Unions said that because "our highest priority, MBL, will probably wrapped up in Congress by Sept. 15, we are using the recess to set up meetings in the district."
League officials in South Carolina, Georgia and Arizona said they were leaning toward possibly following the lead of North Carolina and dropping the September visits.
A spokesman for the South Carolina league said it likes the formalized idea of regular in-district visits and might copy the "Hike at Home" model developed by Georgia Credit Union Affiliates.
Originally, 20 state leagues were scheduled to make Hike the Hill visits but there was no count how many had actually dropped out. CUNA said it, too, likes the idea of more in-state visits since it increases the frequency of CEO meetings with legislators on home turf and allows more CU leaders to participate.
CUNA said it also understands and appreciates the state leagues' position on D.C. travel.
"Each state makes its own, best determination on what makes sense for its needs and its credit unions," said Pat Keefe, vice president of communications. "We respect and support their judgments and work with them closely whichever way they choose to go."