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COLUMBIA, S.C. – Recognizing that the relatively small number of large credit unions in South Carolina account for about 75% of the state’s credit union members, South Carolina Credit Union League President John Franklin hosted a meeting with the state’s 14 largest federal and state-chartered CUs to demonstrate to them the need for ongoing political involvement, the cost of inability to influence legislation, and the actions that build public image and political power. There are 93 credit unions in South Carolina, and most of them are federal credit unions – less than 30% of them are state-chartered. Considering the number of members the 14 attending CUs represent, Franklin said the proportion is a big responsibility, which also means greater opportunity to generate grassroots political strength. “I believe that political involvement is as important, if not more so, to the long term success of credit unions as technology or human resources. I’ve sensed a disturbing attitude and perception that when credit unions get to be a certain size, they stop doing things that credit unions traditionally do. In South Carolina, the large credit unions have the ability to do more, and they’ve done it,” said Franklin. “In effect, if credit unions are going to do the things that Congress wants them to do like serve the underserved, the small credit unions don’t have the resources to do that or to make the needed impact,” he added. Speaking to the credit unions that attended, Franklin first convinced them there is a “perceptual problem” about large credit unions, then he told them they stand to lose the most if credit unions find themselves in a taxation battle with Congress. He also discussed with them what credit unions are already doing with government affairs, and where they need to go from here. Franklin then gave each CU a written estimate of how much they’d have to pay in taxes if CUs’ tax exemption was discontinued. Then SCCUL distributed a commitment sheet and encouraged definitive pledges of time, funds and resources. Franklin said he received commitment from everyone who attended. CUNA’s VP of Governmental Affairs John McKechnie also addressed attendees. As part of its governmental affairs efforts, the South Carolina League has scheduled an extra Hike the Hill for May. The League is encouraging the leadership of the large credit unions to attend the event, and it also plans to use Credit Union House in Washington, D.C. extensively for meetings with legislators. -

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