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AUSTIN, Texas – Texas credit unions hailed this year’s general election as a victory with the return of several credit union-friendly incumbents to the U.S. Congress. Credit unions across the state campaigned for their favorite candidates. “We are pleased with the outcome of the election,” said Buddy Gill, SVP Advocacy for the Texas Credit Union League. “Credit unions have secured two more years of strong leadership and fair representation from members of Congress like Kevin Brady, Pete Sessions, and Chet Edwards.” Credit union supporter Brady (R-8th Dist.) from the North Houston area is a member of the House Ways & Means Committee, which has jurisdiction over all legislation concerning taxes. He also is a CURIA sponsor. As a member of the powerful House Rules Committee, Sessions (R-Dist. 32) was instrumental in getting the bankruptcy reform bill rolling again in 2004. He also was the first Republican co-sponsor of H.R. 1151. “Pete Sessions has been a fantastic credit union champion. The Texas Credit Union League looks forward to our continued work with him,” said Allison Castle, TCUL Communications Director for Advocacy. Sessions’ win had a down side, however, in that his ousted opponent, former Congressman Martin Frost, also was a long-time credit union supporter and proponent of bankruptcy reform. In one of the state’s most hotly-contested races, Congressman Edwards (D-Dist. 17) won his re-election bid against State Representative Arlene Wohlgemuth (51.17% vs. 47.45%). Edwards sits on both the House Appropriations and Budget Committees. Credit union members from the Central Texas Chapter of Credit Unions worked to get out the vote for Edwards. “We were supportive of Chet from the very beginning of his campaign,” said Gary Parker, president and CEO of 1st University CU in Waco. “Chet acknowledged our hard work and made it very clear that he was grateful and he wouldn’t forget it.” A notable newcomer from Texas to the U.S. Congress is credit union friend Kenny Marchant (R-Dist. 24), who was elected to Martin Frost’s old seat. An 18-year veteran of the Texas House of Representatives, Marchant served three sessions as chairman of the House Financial Institutions Committee and sponsored numerous bills relating to credit unions during his nine terms. Earlier this year Dick Ensweiler, president and CEO of the Texas Credit Union League, issued letters of request to Brady, Sessions and Edwards concerning their position on the tax exemption of credit unions. Their responses follow: Kevin Brady: “I believe that credit unions play an important role in our communities and are major contributors to the national economy, the financial system and the communities they enter and the members and families they serve. They provide lending opportunities to small businesses, families and many hard working Americans that would not otherwise be available. For these reasons, I strongly support the tax-exempt status of credit unions because they serve as not-for-profit banks.” Pete Sessions: “I strongly believe in the mission and purpose of credit unions. Since Congress chartered credit unions in the 1930s, they have remained true to their original mission: `not for profit, but for service.’ This is why I have been such an ardent supporter of their unique and distinctive not-for-profit charter here in the House of Representatives.” Chet Edwards: “I oppose legislation to tax credit unions…I recognize that some banks favor taxing credit unions. I think this is the wrong approach, and instead believe we should work on a reduction in taxes for community banks. I could support that proposal, but will not support taxing credit unions.” No major changes occurred in the makeup of the state legislature, but TCUL intends to monitor activities closely once the new legislative session begins. “As state races go there was very little turnover, and we feel very confident with the relationships we have made with members on both sides of the aisle,” TCUL’s Castle said. “We are looking at a session starting in January where lawmakers will try to remedy the public school finance system. Some lawmakers have said everything – new taxes, etc. – is on the table. We hope that the credit union tax exemption won’t be challenged, but it could be.” -

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