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WASHINGTON – State chartered credit unions revealed some of the anticipated and unanticipated barriers they face in gaining more powers and expanding their presence during a break out session at CUNA’s Governmental Affairs Conference. The session, led by CUNA State Credit Union Committee Chair Lee Williams, produced some old and not so old obstacles that state chartered credit unions face. “In recent years, I would have to say, the challenges are a bit more obvious,” Williams observed. She highlighted issues like the Unrelated Business Income Tax and federal preemption of state anti-predatory lending laws. But some are not so obvious. For example, Dateline NBC recently highlighted credit unions as a good deal on vehicle loans and provided the www.cuna.coop Web site to help people find a credit union to join. When one Ohio credit union representative visited the site, she said, all of the federal charters and none of the states were listed for Ohio. She later discovered that the state regulators do not allow financial institutions’ information to be released. She asked that the committee work with the Ohio regulators to change this policy so state charters are not perceived as “second class citizens.” In Texas when trying to push for greater trust powers, credit unions ran into unexpected opposition from the probate lawyers, a representative from a Dallas credit union said. Another case of unanticipated opposition occurred in Michigan when credit unions were supporting anti-payday lending provisions, other cooperatives rose up against them because they did not want caps on lending or fees. The ability to receive public funds is a more blatant concern that exists for many state chartered credit unions. Pam Leavitt, Credit Union Association of Oregon Senior Vice President of Government Affairs and Public Relations said Oregon went through this battle just recently in the face of opposition from the banks; the banks threatened and did introduce legislation to tax credit unions if they sought to accept public deposits. In the end the bankers’ bill did not even get out of committee and the public deposits bill passed overwhelmingly. An underlying theme to all of the challenges identified during the meeting was to play offense and do not succumb to fear. A Michigan credit union representative stated, “I would hate to see credit unions not move ahead and be afraid.” An official from Municipal Credit Union in New York City explained, “What’s important in state politics is we have people. Banks have money but we have people.” He also encouraged participation in Project Zip Code, a program through CUNA that is tallying all the credit union members nationwide and throughout state and federal voting districts. Many other issues, including the overhead transfer rate, regulatory fees, field of membership, secondary capital and others were also raised. [email protected]

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