DES MOINES, Iowa – More than 1,000 credit union members from throughout the state descended on the state capitol March 10 and spoke in one voice to deliver their message of opposing a tax hike for credit unions. The members came by bus and vans and filled the capitol rotunda for the rally to listen to Gov. Tom Vilsack and other legislators such as Senate Minority Leader Michael Gronstal (D-50th) offer their support to Iowa CUs. Addressing the rally, Patrick Jury, vice president of the Iowa Credit Union League urged state lawmakers to reject the tax increase proposed in HF 388 and SF 242 by the state's banking industry. Jury referred to the tax increase legislation as the banking industry's latest effort to take even greater control of Iowa's financial market and reduce competition. That would eventually drive up costs to Iowa consumers, he said. Although Iowa's banking industry has argued the tax hike on Iowa's credit unions would level the playing field, Jury said the proposed tax increase "is more than an underhanded way to reduce the safety and soundness of credit unions. This is simply another attempt by banks, that control more than 90 percent of the state market, to limit competition. Iowans can count on credit unions to defend their right to choose a not-for-profit alternative to for-profit banks." Speaking to the members, Sen. Gronstal told them, "Credit unions have long served as valuable financial resources for all Iowans. They are taxed differently from banks because they are different corporate entities, with a strong commitment to serving the underserved. Any legislation damaging to credit unions is ultimately damaging to Iowans." At press time, there was no action on HF 388 beyond its introduction in the House Ways & Means Committee on March 3. SF 242, legislation increasing taxes on credit unions with more than $150 million in assets and which was introduced the same day as HF388, was passed by the state Senate Commerce Committee March 11 by a close 8-7 vote. The Iowa League said the decisive vote came from Des Moines Democrat Sen. Matt McCoy who changed his position on the bill at the last minute and voted with the banks. SF 242 has been moved to the Senate Ways & Means Committee. -

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