X

Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.

<p>Following the passage of the Credit Union Membership Access Act in 1998, nearly all of us, from NCUA and CUNA, the Leagues and many credit union CEO’s reminded ourselves that we could not sit back again and wait for the next banker attack. We all understood that we had to work very hard to secure passage of that bill. Casual observers who were not involved in the effort had a different take. Obviously, they said, elected officials knew what was right and all credit unions had to do was show up in Washington each February, hike the hill and say hello. As we learned then and know now, nothing could be further from the truth. After the warm glow of victory had diminished, knowing that the sense of urgency generated by H.R. 1151 would subside, a new sense of commitment became necessary from the league standpoint to keep the momentum going. As a league, the Florida Credit Union League, because of strong leadership from our board and others, political advocacy became the number one priority. FCUL established a grassroots coordinator whose sole job was to make sure the local chapters and credit unions remained active. Raising money for our political action committee became a key element in the political advocacy drive. It was our feeling that without a substantial financial participation FCUL would not be much of a player in the Florida political scene. Thanks to very strong efforts by our staff and the Florida CUPAC Board of Trustees, the fund raising goals have continued to be met. As a result, FCUL was ready to play during the 2000 electoral season. But, we didn’t want to just blindly give money away to any candidate who wrote us or called us asking for money. We wanted to make sure that our money went to candidates who understood what credit unions wanted and needed. Therefore, our staff set out and interviewed over 300 candidates during the 2000 campaign. These candidates found out by our questioning what we wanted and they learned about credit unions. When the final votes had been counted, over 90% of the candidates supported by FCUL won election. That meant that credit unions had established themselves to a huge number of successful candidates. Which, we felt, meant that credit unions had a lot of friends in high places. Credit unions and FCUL began to make frequent visits to Washington. We were stung with criticism prior to passage of H.R. 1151 that we were never heard from or seen unless we wanted something. FCUL was determined to change that kind of thinking. As a result, more and more appointments were made and more and more credit union staff and volunteers made their way to the Capitol to visit with their congressional representatives. We became very familiar faces in some congressional offices. Did any of this increased activity begin to pay dividends? Yes. In Tallahassee, as deliberations began on reorganizing the state’s financial regulatory offices, amidst controversy on the structure it ultimately would take, both sides in the controversy did agree on one thing. That credit unions would be governed by a separate bureau once the reorganization was completed. We felt our early intervention and contact with legislators and staff had paid off. In late 2001, during a legislative session convened in Tallahassee to address Florida’s budgetary problems, a proposal came to life that would have taxed mortgages held by state chartered credit unions that were previously exempt from taxation. Because of the contacts and friends we had made during the past several years, FCUL felt that it got an early warning on this issue. FCUL lobbyists swooped in to the source of this proposal and managed to nip that idea in the bud. In years past such a proposal would have been considered without our knowledge. But the best gauge of our success in political advocacy came just a few short weeks ago. FCUL’s Annual Legislative Summit is our yearly effort to bring credit union staff and volunteers to Tallahassee to meet and chat with their legislators and to hear updates on what’s going on in Washington and Tallahassee. This year, we decided to hold a small reception the night before the Summit and invite every legislator to come by and enjoy some refreshments with us and meet their credit union constituents. Normally, about 20 legislators make an effort to drop by. This year nearly 50 Florida legislators dropped by our reception and spent quality time with Summit attendees. And, we feel, if President Bush had not decided to make a sudden visit to the state, even more legislators would have come by to visit. CUNA’s senior vice president for government affairs, who witnessed the reception, said FCUL’s efforts in this area put it on the front row of league’s in political advocacy. Legislators and congressmen make an effort to visit with us and listen to us now because of all the hard work and effort that we have put in the past two years. They get to know us and appreciate us because we have been there for them, both financially and through our volunteer campaign efforts. They know that a great deal of their success is as a result of credit unions supporting their election and showing up to vote for them. FCUL believes that the type of hard work and effort that has taken place in the past three years is beginning to bear fruit. We will continue our efforts this year. We are taking more people to CUNA’s Government Affairs Conference than in any year since 1997. We had more credit union people at our Legislative Summit than ever before. We intend to interview more candidates than ever during this year’s electoral process. We intend to stamp the credit union brand on even more candidates than ever before. It is hard work. It will be even harder. But the rewards are so worth it.</p>

Complete your profile to continue reading and get FREE access to CUTimes.com, part of your ALM digital membership.

Your access to unlimited CUTimes.com content isn’t changing.
Once you are an ALM digital member, you’ll receive:

  • Critical CUTimes.com information including comprehensive product and service provider listings via the Marketplace Directory, CU Careers, resources from industry leaders, webcasts, and breaking news, analysis and more with our informative Newsletters.
  • Exclusive discounts on ALM and CU Times events.
  • Access to other award-winning ALM websites including Law.com and GlobeSt.com.

Already have an account?

 

Credit Union Times

Join Credit Union Times

Don’t miss crucial strategic and tactical information necessary to run your institution and better serve your members. Join Credit Union Times now!

  • Free unlimited access to Credit Union Times' trusted and independent team of experts for extensive industry news, conference coverage, people features, statistical analysis, and regulation and technology updates.
  • Exclusive discounts on ALM and Credit Union Times events.
  • Access to other award-winning ALM websites including TreasuryandRisk.com and Law.com.

Already have an account? Sign In Now
Join Credit Union Times
Live Chat

Copyright © 2022 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved.