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WASHINGTON-As the Utah Credit Union League and America First Credit Union of Ogden, Utah, approached their representatives on the Hill, the credit union representatives knew exactly what they came to achieve. The small credit union group that had traveled almost the entire way across the country wished to thank their congressmen for their support on issues important to credit unions and ask for their continuing support on other credit union issues percolating in Washington. During their Hike the Hill visits with Senator Robert Bennett (R), Senator Orrin Hatch (R), and Congressman James Matheson (D) and their staffers, the Utah group thanked each of the lawmakers for their support on bankruptcy reform. Tom Connors, who is on the board at America First, explained that his credit union was losing more than $300,000 a month recently because of the abuse in the bankruptcy system and the impending reform law. “[Bankruptcy reform] was one I felt really strong about,” freshman Congressman Matheson said. “It was just the right thing to do.” The group also urged the Utah Senators and Congressman to support critical legislation that is still pending in Congress, including Individual Development Accounts (IDAs) and Congressman Ed Royce’s (R-Calif.) faith-based lending initiative for credit unions. Savings for Working Families Act (H.R. 2160 and S. 1025) are both stand-alone bills concerning IDAs, which provide incentives for lower income persons to save money (see story page 11). IDAs are also included in a charitable giving bill (S. 592) that has sat in the Senate since it was introduced March 21. The lawmakers promised to look into the issue. About 50 credit unions already offer similar types of accounts. Additionally, the Utah credit union representatives asked the Senators and Congressman to support the Faith-based Lending Protection Act (H.R. 760), which has not received much attention from the Congress yet this year. The bill would exempt loans made to non-profit faith-based organizations from the member business lending cap set in the Credit Union Membership Access Act in 1998 (H.R. 1151). “This has a real chilling effect on [business lending],” CUNA Vice President and Senior Legislative Counsel Gary Kohn told Evan Liddiard, senior tax policy advisor to Hatch. Kohn added that Senator Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.), a member of the Banking Committee, is considering introducing mirror legislation in the Senate. [email protected]

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