COLUMBUS, Ohio – Calling it the “first substantive modification” of the state’s credit union act in 17 years, the Ohio Credit Union League is monitoring the progress of credit union legislation introduced in the state House of Representatives April 21 which one credit union spokesman said “includes changes that give Ohio credit unions the regulatory flexibility they need to better serve their members in the 21st century.” House Bill 470, was introduced by Rep. Geoffrey Smith (R-24), a second-term Republican. The legislation culminates a two-year process initiated by the Ohio Credit Union League to review the laws and regulations affecting credit unions in the state, an effort that was led by a 10-member Ohio Charter Task Force chaired by Jerry Guy, president/CEO, Kemba Financial CU, Columbus. Among the provisions of the measure, it would: * authorize state and federal credit unions to act as depositories for probate, guardianship, and public funds; * permit student credit unions in public schools for grades K-12; * allow credit unions to offer limited financial services to people in underserved areas, such as check-cashing and wire transfers; * clarify that joint account owners are eligible for loans; * establish a safety and soundness standard for membership approval; * provide additional authority to the Superintendent of Financial Institutions to adopt rules setting forth membership criteria; * permit electronic technology for meetings, record-keeping, and documentation; and * add the definition for low income credit unions, net worth, shares, deposits, and membership agreement. In addition to Guy, the other members of the Ohio Charter Task Force were: Gary Easterling, Wright-Patt CU; Catherine Herring, Communicating Arts CU; Mike Kurish, Associated Schools ECU; Karen McNamara, Greater Cleveland Fire Fighters CU; Phil Meyer, Ohio University CU; Susie Preston, Buckeye State CU; Barry Shaner, Toledo Area Community CU; and Rose Bartolomucci, chair of the OCUL and president/CEO of Kent CU who served as ex officio on the Task Force. The Task Force surveyed Ohio credit unions over the two year period to garner their feedback on changes and updates that would help them better serve their members. The Task Force eventually drafted a document from that input that became H.B. 470. There are 231 state-chartered credit unions in Ohio and 295 federal CUs. According to OCUL General Counsel John Kozlowski, the last time the Credit Union Act was substantively modified was in 1987, and those changes were mostly promulgated by the state Division of Financial Institutions for the purposes of regulation. Since then there have only been minor changes made. The act was written in 1971. “The purpose of House Bill 470 is to provide credit unions with additional flexibility and provide the quality products and services credit unions need, as well as the ability of credit unions to perform certain functions that up until now have been blocked by sections of the act,” explained Kozlowski, who added that the League asked Smith to introduce the measure because he’s familiar with credit union issues and he’s been a member of the House Banking Committee since he took office. “The financial services industry has changed and credit unions need the flexibility to change with it,” said Kozlowski. At press time, there were nine co-sponsors’ names on H.B. 470. The House Rules Committee hadn’t yet assigned the measure to a committee, but Kozlowski said the Rule Committee was scheduled to meet on May 4. “Until then we will continue to work with our membership and state legislators,” he said. -

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