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LATHAM, N.Y. – As members of the New York State Credit Union League prepared for their 84th Annual Meeting and Convention-being held this week in Saratoga Springs, NY-Credit Union Times had the opportunity to speak with NYSCUL’s Michael Lanotte, senior vice president and general counsel. CU Times: How would you summarize the past year for the NYSCUL in terms of its legislative agenda and overall tone? It’s been a very exciting and successful couple of years for us. At the end of last year’s legislative session, we had unprecedented success, and two bills were signed into law that the NYSCUL introduced and drafted. Efforts to include credit unions in the Excelsior Linked Deposit Program [an initiative that allows state funds to be used for lower than market rate small-business loans] were one step away last year, and all indicators show that it may be moving through both houses this year. As far as a tone being set, we haven’t had a tax issue put upon us, and we’re not under any direct bank attack. However, we’re not immune by any means. With that in mind, we’ve been working to be prepared if there is such an attack. We’ve created a CU advocacy plan – a proactive approach to educate our target audience of legislators, credit unions and the public regarding the CU difference. We’ve collected a lot of research data showing the positive impact credit unions are making on the state’s economy. We’re looking at cooperative advertising across the state to get out the message of the CU difference. We’re working with legislators to show that what credit unions are doing makes a difference. CU Times: What have been some of the highlights? The health of New York credit unions is very strong right now. We’ve had an increase in membership across the state.we’re over 4 million strong now. But personally, I think the convention is something that’s really going to stand out this year. Usually we do a separate legislative conference, but this year, with the fact that it is an election year and the fact that the Republican National Convention will be in New York City, we decided to combine the two events into one to promote educational efforts as well as advocacy. The response has been outstanding-we’ve already registered more than 650, and we hope to be between 700 and 800 by convention time. CU Times: What are some growth areas? We have to make sure the bankers’ strategy of “divide and conquer” is not something that takes root in New York State. It’s important that we remain united. That’s one reason for our convention theme this year-One Mission, One Voice. CU Times: What do you think will be the highpoint of the Annual Meeting? We have so many great events lined up right now; it’s hard to decide. We have Mr. Ventura [former Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura] talking about the importance of grassroots efforts-which addresses the “One Voice” aspect of our theme-and he certainly showed his success with that. With regard to “One Mission,” we have some very important educational sessions from credit unions and industry experts geared to help better serve our membership. That’s a key issue-no matter what size your credit union is, you still have one mission: to serve your members. CU Times: What do you see as some of the key issues over the next few years? Most glaring is the bank attacks. Their efforts to educate lawmakers about their position are at an all-new level. In response, we have to make our credit unions understand that now is the most important time to speak out. We really have to get the word out on the CU difference over the next few years. We have to get involved in political, grassroots activities that make sure everyone understands our message. And, we have to make sure everyone understands that we’re in this together.not in segments or alone. CU Times: What are your recommendations on what to do when visiting Saratoga Springs? The whole downtown area is very lively, even when the track season is not in session. Lake George is not too far way-and we’ll have an event there. The Gala always is well received. There’s definitely plenty to do. -

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