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<p>OKLAHOMA CITY – Oklahoma Credit Union League President/CEO Bob Bianchini has no doubt about Rep. Paul Kanjorski’s (D-Pa.) support of credit unions, but his ears perked up during CUNA’s GAC when he heard comments the congressman make on the regulatory relief hearing and on preserving parity in the dual chartering system. Bianchini said what stuck in his mind was Kanjorski’s comment that preserving parity in the dual chartering system may require “restrictive change in state charters or it may cause us to broaden the federal charter.” “In no way do I question Kanjorski’s support of credit unions, that is not the issue,” said Bianchini. Kanjorski was one of the original sponsors of H.R. 1151 and has been a long time advocate for credit unions. “The point is that the strengthening of the dual chartering system should not be at the expense of state-chartered credit unions.” Bianchini said Kanjorski’s comments “raise a dangerous signal, just as it would anytime anyone talks about restricting one credit union charter to advance or protect another.” Bianchini said members have benefited from the dual chartering system and what he referred to as “competition within regulation between the state and federal regulators.” This competition has been a catalyst in states serving as “laboratories” and experimenting with new services and products such as mortgage lending and checking accounts. “At other times the federal side has taken the initiative. We balance each other out,” Bianchini said. “I wouldn’t want the states to say they weren’t going to pursue an initiative just because federal law doesn’t allow it. States don’t operate that way and federal charters should be as supportive of state chartered credit unions moving into unchartered service areas. That’s the benefit of the dual chartering system, it benefits both the federal and state charter,” said Bianchini. “The entire credit union industry has to take a stand and say the preservation of the dual chartering system is an absolute necessity,” said Bianchini. John McKechnie, senior vice president of government affairs for CUNA said he too made note of Kanjorski’s remarks and said, “While as a rule I liked what the congressman said about federal credit unions, I expressed my concerns about the state charter part of his remarks.” McKechnie said Kanjorski has been concerned about the number of federal credit unions converting to state charters and the reasons that many federal credit unions find the state charter more attractive. When he spoke with a Kanjorski staffer later during GAC, McKechnie said he told the staffer that the ebbs and flows among credit unions concerning federal to state charters have also gone in the opposite direction. Such was the case, in fact in the early 1990s, when many state chartered CUs converted to federal charters. It was in the context of Kanjorski’s concern about the number of FCUs converting to state charters that he made his comments that Bianchini reacted to. “Kanjorski’s remarks goes back to his desire for parity in the credit union system between federal and state charters. He believes there needs to be a proper balance in the system,” said McKechnie. He added that CUNA has been in close contact with Kanjorski’s office and is working with the congressman to make sure neither state nor federal charters are the target of any restrictive measures in any legislation. -</p> <p>[email protected]</p>

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