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WASHINGTON-Congress is nearing the end of its annual August recess, and while the term `recess’ may conjure up school day memories of that half-hour break from school following lunchtime, the same is not true for the nation’s federal lawmakers. Though activity inside the beltway has entered semi-hibernation, activity in the local districts has really heated up. Many state leagues are taking advantage of this time, particularly during an election year, to raise issues with their senators and representatives like bankruptcy reform and regulatory relief. “I think that this actually has been very opportunistic that this came up about the Schumer amendment and how that is being couched because we’re now starting to have some members ask us about it and it’s giving our people a chance to explain,” CUNA Vice President of Political Affairs Richard Gose observed. Several Republicans have voiced serious concerns about the Schumer amendment compromise – which would exempt fines resulting from criminal activity toward clinics from bankruptcy protection -calling it too pro-choice, while others have said it would limit other protestors’ activities. “There are a couple of folks who might have been in that group that would have voted not on the merits but on the working or on the preconceived arguments that now realize this is an important bill for credit unions and will focus more on the bankruptcy side,” he said. Here is what some of the state leagues are up to now: Pennsylvania Credit Union League After redistricting, Pennsylvania has been faced with at least two potentially tough races. Congressmen George Gekas (R) and Tim Holden (D) were forced into the same congressional district, both of who have been supportive of credit unions in the past. The credit union community has decided to throw its weight behind Gekas because of his introduction of the current bankruptcy reform legislation. Jan Hartman, vice president of Governmental Affairs pointed out that the new district 17 leans to the conservative side, which should bode well for Gekas. The district race for Congressman Paul Kanjorski’s (D) seat could have been much tighter but is looking more and more like the incumbent will return for the next congressional session. The congressman worked very hard for credit unions during the H.R. 1151 battle in 1998. Hartman commented that he thinks the seat “should be winnable for him.” In local politics, the Greensburg and Johnstown Chapters of the Pennsylvania league recently held a joint Legislative Night with State Senators Richard Kasunic and John Wozniak and State Representative Sara Steelman as guests. Seventy credit union officials from 20 different credit unions attended the event. New York State Credit Union League The New York league is encouraging credit union leaders to use this time to meet with their elected officials. The Long Island District credit unions met this month with both Congressman Peter King (R) and Congressman Felix Grucci (R), to discuss bankruptcy abuse reform legislation (H.R. 333) and the financial services regulatory relief legislation (H.R. 3951). Additionally, they are holding a Legislative Night this week and have received positive responses from Representatives Grucci, King, Steve Israel (D), and Carolyn McCarthy (D). A breakfast with McCarthy is also scheduled prior to her return to Washington. Oklahoma Credit Union League While the Oklahoma credit unions can boast a number of fundraising events, the most unique event was held for Congressman Frank Lucas (R) of the Financial Services Committee. Set at the Express Clydesdale Ranch in Yukon, Oklahoma, 125 credit union professionals and volunteers, together with 10 Clydesdales, raised nearly $6,500 for the congressman’s reelection campaign. Due to recent redistricting, Oklahoma lost one seat in Congress and, as a result Lucas now represents 34 of the 77 counties in Oklahoma giving him just over 48% of the land mass of the state. Maine Credit Union League The Maine league has been going the extra mile to actually have credit union-friendly congressional and gubernatorial candidates visit several credit unions on busy days for an hour at a time to meet with the credit unions’ members. The credit union CEO is typically on hand and a table is available for literature, coffee and treats are served. “All of this gives us and our CEOs great quality time with the candidates. We also take pictures that will show up in CU newsletters this fall, prior to the election,” Susan Dore of the Maine Credit Union League said. The league is particularly committed to candidate Mike Michaud in Maine’s 2nd congressional district, who is a credit union board member. Virginia Credit Union League According to the Virginia league, a handful of “very committed” members have been attending town meetings and advisory council meetings. Also Chairman of County of Henrico Federal Credit Union Bill Dawson has bee volunteering for Congressman Eric Cantor’s (R) campaign for reelection. “One thing I find of great interest is to see how credit union volunteers are so involved in a variety of things that while they attend political events primarily for some other reason than on behalf of the credit union movement, they always take time to remind the legislator that they are also involved in their credit unions,” Deb Thomas of the Virginia league said. The league is also working on fundraisers for its state legislators, attending receptions and golf outings for numerous state lawmakers, as well. Wyoming Credit Union League The Wyoming Credit Union League was fortunate enough to hold its Annual Meeting and Convention during the August recess and used the opportunity to meet with Senator Mike Enzi, a first-term Republican on both the Banking and Small Business Committees. Jane Willard, who is with the Wyoming and Colorado leagues, explained that the senator reiterated his support for the bankruptcy bill and felt optimistic about its passage upon Congress’ return. He also complimented the Wyoming credit unions for their emphasis on educating members and young people about financial responsibility and noted credit unions’ place in the state’s economy. On August 16, the league hosted a fundraiser for Senator Enzi and Representative Barbara Cubin (R) at the Petroleum Club in Casper in conjunction with the Wyoming Annual Meeting. Just last week, Enzi’s banking staffer, Mike Thompson, met, at request of the senator’s office, with credit union and league representatives to discuss current issues, particularly the bankruptcy bill. Wyoming credit union leaders also attended the Wyoming Congressional Awards event in Jackson in August with Enzi, Senator Craig Thomas (R), and members of Cubin’s staff. Governor Jim Geringer (R) and numerous state legislators also attended the annual event. The Wyoming Credit Union League has sponsored the event for several years , which is the only award presented in the name of Congress of the United States except for the Congressional Medal of Honor. Colorado Credit Union League Credit union leaders attended a fundraiser for Congressman Mark Udall (D), with whom the credit unions enjoy an excellent working relationship, Willard said. A league staffer also attended a small event in Denver supporting Representative Diana DeGette (D) and candidate for the new 7th district Mike Feeley, a long-time credit union supporter. House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt (D-Missouri) was in attendance. Credit union volunteers have worked on DeGette’s and Feeley’s campaigns. Just before the recess, Jeffco Schools Credit Union hosted a visit with Congressman Tom Tancredo (R) and updated him on the bankruptcy issue and other issues. Michigan Credit Union League Last week, the Flint Chapter of the Michigan league held a legislative breakfast with area candidates, including Congressman Dale Kildee. Kildee, a bankruptcy conference committee member, is opposed to H.R. 333, and he has fought to keep the key credit union provisions in the bill. The same day, the league hosted a fundraiser for Senator Carl Levin right at the league’s Lansing headquarters. “Obviously, it was also a great opportunity to bring the Senator into our League Headquarters and show off our facilities and talk credit union issues,” Grassroots Coordinator Todd Stabenow commented. Leading up to Michigan’s August 6 primary election, the Michigan Credit Union League held several Meet & Greet activities for Representatives Fred Upton and Lynn Rivers. Rivers was joined by California Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey (D), who was so impressed by the idea of a credit union group hosting a Meet & Greet that she said she was going to ask the California league why they have not hosted one for her. Washington Credit Union League Among the political activities planned for the August recess by Washington State credit unions, the league plans to participate in fundraisers for Congressman Brian Baird (D) and Congressman Adam Smith (D), as well as chapter legislative receptions across the state. Topics of discussion are expected to range from individual development accounts, bankruptcy abuse reform, regulatory relief, and deposit insurance reform. [email protected]

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