SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – The Missouri Credit Union Association is mobilizing its members to head off an effort by the state's bankers to further tax Missouri credit unions. Through its Web site news network, the MCUA is asking members to schedule meetings with their local lawmakers because Missouri bankers may be laying the groundwork to introduce legislation in the Missouri legislature next year similar to the bill working its way through the Utah legislature. In a news alert to members, the association said the bankers are laying out their complaints about credit unions to fresh ears in the legislature. "There are 90 new lawmakers in the House alone," Amy McLard, MCUA vice president of public/legislative affairs told members in the news alert. "I've met with nearly all of them in the first three weeks of the session, and most bring up credit unions' tax status and field-of-membership." The MCUA is responding to the efforts in Utah to increase taxation of credit unions. The bankers association there has drafted legislation to impose a franchise tax on the largest credit unions in those states. Missouri credit unions already pay a franchise tax, according to Peggy Nalls, MCUA senior vice president for legislative/public affairs. "However, we are closely watching other issues such as the branching fee," she said. "We've been in contact with the Utah Credit Union League, offering assistance and sharing information about what is currently happening in Missouri." Nalls told Credit Union Times that she knows of no legislation now being contemplated and that she believes the banks see their best chance of slowing the spread of credit unions in the courts, where a lawsuit on field-of-membership expansion is heading for the Missouri Supreme Court. The Missouri Bankers Association has sued the Missouri Credit Union Commission to require the commission to hear complaints from bankers when it considers field-of-membership expansions. Lower courts denied the bankers the standing to sue and the bankers are appealing to the state supreme court. "I believe they don't want to go to the legislature," she said. "We went there before and our grassroots outstripped their grassroots." Nalls and McLard are countering the bankers' protests in their meetings with legislators but they believe lawmakers need to hear the same things back in their districts, where the votes are. "We desperately need credit unions to schedule visits with their lawmakers, both at home and in Jefferson City (the state capital)," McLard said in the notice on the Web site. Bill Ratliff, senior vice president of the bankers association, said, "We're not doing any legislation, most of our stuff is in the courts." Asked if the MBA was planning for legislation next year, Ratliff said he wasn't looking that far ahead. "I'm just trying to get through this session," he said. -

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