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<p>Your credit union has a plan to build capital. Your credit union has a bond to protect it against losses. Your credit union looks at ALM issues to keep a good balance. Your credit union has a marketing plan to ensure steady growth of new members. Your credit union has a plan for political involvement. You were with me right up to the plan for political involvement. Why would a credit union need such a thing to prepare for the future? Credit unions, whether state or federal are created by government charter. Every state government and the federal government operates on politics. If credit unions are not politically involved, they are letting others decide their future. We waited at the CUNA GAC in 1998 expecting at any moment to hear the ruling of the Supreme Court. There was nothing left to do but wait. There were no phone calls to be made, no discussions to be held, no other appeal was available. We just waited. Many people felt that we were being held hostage by a group of nine people. The bankers were winning and there was not anything we could do about it. Of course we lost in the courts, but then we worked in the legislative arena to pass H.R. 1151. We won the battle, but the verdict on the war is still out. We now sit in 2002, the most significant political year for the next 10 years. Presidential elections are nice, but the election after redistricting has a greater impact on the government in almost every state and certainly in D.C. than almost any other election. Regardless of size or charter, you should have a political plan for your credit union for 2002. In Texas, estimates are that over 30% of our state house will change this year largely due to redistricting. Almost 10% of our Congressional delegation will be new this year because of two new seats and at least one vacancy – and that is barring any incumbent losses. With the retirement of Sen. Phil Gramm, 50% of our Senate delegation is leaving. In fact, we could see a party change in at least one of our legislative bodies this year at the state and federal. No matter what issues you name, the make-up of the chambers of government make a huge difference. Even if you do not put a party-label to it, a chamber full of bankers has a different view than a chamber full of small business people. At the federal level, not only do we have bankruptcy to pass, but privacy still hangs around as a topic, there are regulatory reforms on the horizon, and we have a full plan to work with being developed over the next ten years from the results of the Renaissance Commission. If you have anybody looking at bankruptcy in your field of membership or have federal insurance or fall under Treasury regulations, you have an interest in what comes out of Congress. At the state level, again whether you are a federal or state charter, there are issues that affect your credit union. If you have employees, make loans, own or lease property, issue credit cards or provide interest rates to members, you have an interest in what comes out of a state legislature. If any of the issues above makes you interested in what comes out of Congress or your state legislature, then you have an interest in what goes into Congress and your state legislature. What goes in are political people who run for office and get votes. I have seen people who were not overly political before they started running suddenly awaken to the 50% plus 1, or in some states the biggest plurality, become acutely aware of the electoral process. In your credit union you have a measurement for most activities – money. Whether you are addressing the need of a member who may not technically qualify for a loan get the help she needs, watching insurance rates rise, or just meeting payroll, your currency is currency. The currency of politics is votes. Politicians sure of victory have awakened the next day to no longer be the chairman of a powerful committee because they did not get the votes to win re-election. How important are the votes. In Texas, because of a redistricting pairing, one incumbent lost to another incumbent by 562 votes out more than 12,376 votes cast. In a U.S. House race, out of 8,922 votes cast, a challenger lost by just 290 votes. Another Texas House incumbent lost his seat by 40 votes out of the 4,661 votes cast. When you look at the size of your credit union membership imagine the impact you could have on who serves in the legislative bodies. What is more, state and national surveys repeatedly show that credit union members want to know what their elected officials are doing to protect their credit unions-after all your members own the credit union. This means they have a financial interest in seeing it prosper. At a minimum, every credit union should have some form of a plan for contacting their representatives. If you are unsure who your representatives are, you should participate in Project Zip Code and determine which elected officials represent your members. CUNA also has a nine-point plan that you can adopt to help the process. Just as we were at the CUNA GAC, if we do not participate, we hold ourselves hostage and wait for what comes out. By putting the right people into the process, we can ensure we get the right product out. A credit union without a political plan is a credit union that is not prepared for the future.</p>

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