Oregon credit unions were proud of their accomplishments in the 2001 Oregon Legislative Session. When the session ended on July 7, we had accomplished what we set out to do – pass favorable member business loan legislation, and update specific sections of the Oregon Credit Union Act. We did this while keeping our relationship with the bankers civil, and our relationships with the legislators strong. We have come a long way from public battles fought in previous legislative sessions. Looking back to the 1997 Oregon Legislative Session (the Oregon Legislature meets in the odd number years), we engaged in a bitter and hard fought battle with the bankers over the issue of field of membership. Prior to our victory in Congress with H.R. 1151, the Oregon Bankers Association was not willing to budge on their strong opposition to updating our Act to include the ability of Oregon state-chartered credit unions to have multiple groups in their fields of membership. At the beginning of the 1997 session, we introduced Senate Bill 391, which updated Oregon law to allow credit unions’ membership to include multiple groups, each having common employers; members of associations; and persons who live or work in defined neighborhoods, communities, or rural districts. In response, the OBA introduced a bill to tax state-chartered credit unions. The battle had begun. While the taxation bill didn’t even have a hearing, our bill received much attention. We held one of the largest lobbying days that year, held the largest rally on the steps of the Oregon Capitol Building in Salem, orchestrated a broad and effective radio campaign, and filled every single hearing when our bill was up. In the end, the bill passed the Oregon Senate on the only Minority Report to pass the Senate that year, but was stuck in the House during end-of-session politics on many other bills. It took so long to get the bill out of the Senate, that we didn’t have enough time to fight it on the House side. We did a good job, but learned many lessons along the way. Where did we go from there? Oregon credit unions decided not to sit back and let the bankers dictate what the Oregon Credit Union Act should look like. Credit unions across the state committed to building our state PAC, as well as the Credit Union Legislative Action Fund (CULAF). They committed to working on campaigns; they committed to our grassroots program, CU Advocates; and one person even committed to running for the Oregon State Senate. In the meantime, Congress took eight months to pass H.R. 1151 and sent it to President Clinton to sign. The following legislative session, our legislators and local bankers realized the difficulty in stopping our field of membership bill, and we were able to pass the bill in the 1999 legislative session. Jump forward to 2001, where we were able to negotiate our legislative agenda with the bankers, and get everything we wanted. We entered the session with two goals in mind: pass member business loan legislation similar to the federal law (Oregon law limited loans to $100,000 for state-chartered credit unions); and make progress on our public funds bill, knowing this issue would take at least two sessions to develop and pass. We introduced two priority bills. The public funds bill, SB 499, was introduced by Senators Ted Ferrioli (R) and Rick Metsger (D). The Oregon and Federal Credit Union Acts allow credit unions to accept public deposits; however, Oregon law prohibits public entities from depositing the funds into credit unions. The second bill was a technical “clean-up” bill, with changes to member business lending limitations to allow state-chartered credit unions to make the same loans to business entity members that federal credit unions can make. The bill – HB2775 – was introduced by Representative Tim Knopp(R) and Senator Rick Mestger (D). In the end, Oregon credit unions had a great session, passing priority legislation, including the member business loan bill and an Internet Gambling bill, and making great strides on the public funds issues. We were also involved in stopping additional privacy disclosure requirements and increased fees. Getting to this point took several years of proactive credit union advocacy, and many dedicated credit union volunteers. Credit union advocates committed to maintaining a vocal presence in the State Capitol, funding our state PAC at record levels (we are in the top ten of business PACs in the state), and meeting with legislators when they are running for office in their local communities. A strong legislative advocacy program motivates credit union supporters to become vocal advocates on credit union issues and develop relationships with their legislators. A strong political advocacy program gives credit union advocates the opportunity to educate their local legislators on the impact of credit unions to their communities, and develop relationships through legislator visits to credit unions and credit union events. What are the lessons we have learned over the years? * Political advocacy – Develop strong ties to legislators during the interim period and campaign cycle. Educate them on the credit union difference, and establish key contacts for every elected official. Have CU advocates hand-deliver every PAC check with a local credit union message. * Support local PAC – Maintain state PAC at a level where “you will be noticed,” and get involved in campaigns and elections. * Legislative advocacy – Have a vocal presence in the State Capitol. Develop aggressive advocacy programs during the legislative session to keep credit union supporters engaged and regularly in the Capitol. For several years before we introduced our legislative agenda, we would ask, “What will the bankers think about this?” Now, we feel strong enough to go forward with an agenda that is right for Oregon credit unions. Now we ask, “How will this bill be beneficial to our credit unions?” Similar to the goals of the recently released Renaissance Commission Report, we are looking forward to addressing the needs of Oregon credit unions, and making sure the Oregon Credit Union Act reflects those changing needs.