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WASHINGTON- In this time of charter swapping, CUNA’s Governmental Affairs Committee has demonstrated CUNA’s commitment to a strong dual chartering system by approving an unequivocal policy statement on the issue recently. The statement reads, “When faced with preemption issues, CUNA’s Governmental Affairs Committee should take every opportunity to improve and protect the credit union charter, whether state or federal. When making policy, CUNA’s Governmental Affairs Committee should not hold back advantages for one charter simply for the protection of the other.” State Credit Union Subcommittee Chair Lee Williams, president and CEO of Aviation Associates Credit Union in Kansas, explained. “We just wanted to make sure the feds were on board with us.We wanted to make sure the credit union industry was aware that we are speaking with one voice.” The states are often so focused on their issues, they need to also be made aware of federal issues and federals should realize that many battles start close to home. Federal Credit Union Subcommittee Chair Christopher Jillson, president and CEO of Sandia Laboratories Federal Credit Union in New Mexico, added, “CUNA has always demonstrated that it is the trade association for both charters.” Now it is in black and white, he said. “Both charters are in a race to the top,” Williams said; it doesn’t matter which one wins. When there are numerous credit union conversions to a different charter, something is wrong. Nobody wants to see a lot of “flip flopping,” she said. Williams admitted that the states were more “attentive” for a while. Jillson clarified, concerning the race, “It’s an ongoing journey. There’s no destination.” Given the attacks on credit unions in several states this year, CUNA felt it was an appropriate time to emphasize our support for the dual chartering system, CUNA Senior Vice President of Government Affairs John McKechnie explained. Tax threats arose in several states, most notably Utah, but none of them was entirely successful. The credit union community is bracing for more of the same this year. Additionally, the state tax authorities began looking into Unrelated Business Income Tax as it relates to credit unions. The problems are not always at the state level. McKechnie pointed out that as former House Financial Services Committee Ranking Member John LaFalce (D-N.Y.) was retiring in 2000, he introduced legislation that would have prevented states from doing anything federal credit unions were not permitted to do, a “reverse negative wild card” McKechnie called it. Regarding the federal preemptions in the Fair Credit Reporting Act, he added that CUNA believes the federal preemption is appropriate. “State charters agree with the idea that the federal preemption ought to be in place,” McKechnie stated. CUNA Associate General Counsel Mary Dunn concluded, “The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act codified a number of powers for the banks. Credit unions want to make sure they have just as many advantages but not at the expense of state versus federal or federal versus state.” [email protected]

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