<p>WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – Credit unions saw a flurry of activity on the state scene last year – leagues counted more than 800 pieces of legislation they worked on that could have an effect on credit union operations. So what's in store for 2002? Expect no let up in, especially when it comes to the revamping of state's credit union statutes. Sources Credit Union Times spoke with concurred that until now, for the most part, leagues' efforts have been spent on tweaking specific provisions and segments of their state's credit union act. Now though they're pursuing more full-scale rewriting of CU acts that have been on the books for years, some in fact since 1934. At press time, for example, the Wisconsin Credit Union League was waiting for word on whether a state Senate committee was able to work out a compromise on a piece of legislation-"Financial Modernization 2001″-that was passed by the state Assembly in the last legislative session, and is supported by credit unions, the Wisconsin Bankers Association, and the Community Bankers of Wisconsin. The Montana Credit Union League is also in the process of "gathering information" and "will probably look at" making a comprehensive revision to the state credit union act, said Bob Pyfer, senior vice president, government relations. Meanwhile, a District of Columbia credit union charter bill introduced last year that would allow for D.C. state-chartered credit unions has been temporarily put aside while the City Council considers predatory lending measures that were recently introduced. Several Midwest states are also considering proposing a rewriting of their credit union acts and hope to begin their work this year as well. CUNA's State Governmental Affairs Director Colleen Kelly opined that much of the credit union act recodification activity that's going on has been spurred by the rewriting of the Model Credit Union Act. The two-and-a-half year project began in the Spring '99, and in February 2000 the Model Credit Union Act task force put out over 114 provisions to state leagues and regulators for their comment. "All the leagues and regulators were involved, and that got people thinking and looking over their respective state credit union act a lot closer than they normally would," said Kelly. "Credit unions and leagues tend not to read their state act on a regular basis," she quipped. Kelly also pointed to the enactment of H.R. 1151, the Credit Union Consumer Access Act and the Federal Credit Union Act-especially the sections concerning charter conversions-as reasons behind the recodification of state credit union acts. "Charter conversions brought state's credit union acts into focus," said Kelly. She said her office received calls from many credit unions that asked her to do side-by-side comparisons between the federal CU act and the credit union act in their respective state. Once leagues began looking at their state credit union act more closely in areas like charter conversion and field-of-membership allowances, "they started seeing other things jump out that needed updating as well," said Kelly. Some of the other areas leagues realized also needed updating concerned credit union operations and how that is impacted by technology changes. "Credit unions used to have five and 10 year plans, but with the rapid rate we're seeing technological changes, they now have to plan further out. So a state's credit union act has to allow for changes now, as well as in the long term," said Kelly. If the rewriting of a state's credit union act is no small task, the revamping of the Model Credit Union Act was a comparable "monumental" task, said Kelly. Both credit unions and state regulators were asked for their input because, "We'll do better at the state level if we have credit unions and regulators supporting it," she said. As expected, the six league representatives who are members of the Model Credit Union Act task force "spent a lot of time disagreeing," said Kelly. But there was also consensus on many things. Model laws are an important tool in the state legislative system, said Kelly. "With the globilization of our economy and more and more businesses operating in numerous jurisdictions, there is support in both the public and private sectors for the federalization of many laws. This is a significant threat to the future of state governance, as well as the credit union dual chartering system," said Kelly. Kelly plans to unveil the new Model Credit Union Act in February during CUNA's GAC. -</p> <p>[email protected]</p>

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