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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The Missouri Credit Union Commission didn’t let a pending opinion written in December by the state Supreme Court recognizing bankers’ standing to challenge field-of-membership expansion approval decisions, stand in their way of supporting FOM expansions granted by the director of the Division of Credit Unions. The commission upheld earlier decisions of FOM expansion approvals given by Director John Smith of the Division of Credit Unions, Missouri Department of Economic Development to First Community CU (approved September 2002), Alliance CU (approved January 2003), Aerospace CU (approved July 2003), St. Louis Postal CU (approved January 2003), and United Community CU (approved February 2003). The commission had already heard the bankers’ appeals in the respective cases and earlier had accepted into evidence information provided by the parties involved. Smith told Credit Union Times the Commission’s Jan. 13th meeting was “to give the commission the opportunity to present its decision on the evidence that was presented.” Smith further stressed that the commission heard the bankers’ appeals in the five cases before the Supreme Court issued its opinion Dec. 9. He said attorneys for the bankers and Telcomm Credit Union – previously called Springfield Telephone Employees CU and the credit union involved in the Missouri Supreme Court decision – were both present at the Jan. 13th meeting of the Credit Union Commission, and both attorneys concurred that the Supreme Court decision is a “pending decision, not a final one.” The Missouri Credit Union Association and Telcomm CU both filed a motion for a hearing for modification of the Supreme Court opinion on Dec. 23. A decision on their motion should be released within 60 days, said Smith. According to the opinion issued Dec. 9 by the Supreme Court of Missouri, the Missouri Bankers Association – and in the case of the Telcomm CU case, also Century Bank of the Ozarks which also was a plaintiff in the case – meets the three requirements for associational standing to bring a legal challenge on behalf of its members: * “Century and the other association member banks in the 417 area code all have standing to bring their own claims.” * “One of the Association’s purposes in representing the interests of its members in the 417 area code is to protect those banks from unfair competition.” * “The relief the association is requesting – the reversal of the director’s decision and invalidation of the commission’s regulation – is prospective only and does not seek damages or some other relief that would be available to individual members only.” The Court also wrote in its opinion that “although banks merely are economic competitors of the credit union, they only need show that they are adversely affected by the director’s decision, not that they have a right to be free from competition entirely;” that “standing .to review the director’s decision approving the credit union’s expansion necessarily includes standing to review the commission’s underlying decision to grant the exemption to the 3,000-person membership limit. The administrative process was not complete until the director rendered a final decision.”; and lastly that “standing to challenge a regulation defining the geographic limitation on credit unions is afforded not only to credit unions but also to banks, as economic competitors of credit unions.” But Smith told Credit Union Times there are some things in the opinion that are unclear and need clarification. For example, there is a section of state law that gives the Credit Union Commission the authority when a credit union applies to take a group of more than 3,000 persons into its field-of-membership, to exempt that group from having to form a new credit union. That begs the question, said Smith, of how can the commission hear an appeal of its own decision. “The opinion appears to read that the commission can hear those appeals too,” he said. Of the five credit union field-of-membership expansion cases that were discussed by the commission at its Jan. 13th meeting, Smith said all but one were similar to the Telcomm case: * First Community CU applied to serve those who live and work in Lincoln, Warren, Franklin, Washington, St. Francois, Ste. Genevieve, Pike, Montgomery, Casconade and Crawford counties in the state of Missouri and the City of St. Louis. * Alliance CU applied to serve those who work or reside in St. Charles County or St. Louis County. * Aerospace CCU applied to serve the remainder of St. Louis City, St. Louis County, and St. Charles County that isn’t currently part of their FOM, and those who live or work in Lincoln County. * St. Louis Postal CU applied for seven zip codes and St. Charles County. United Community CU’s FOM expansion case was different from the others, Smith explained, because the credit union is based in Quincy, Illinois and has a branch in Hannibal, Missouri where they serve various employee groups and the City of Hannibal. Since Missouri statute gives them reciprocity, the credit union applied to serve three low income communities in Missouri – Lewis, Ralls, and Marion. Smith granted their application. -

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