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SALT LAKE CITY-A panel of the Utah Legislature, with a strong anti-credit union bent, has set Nov. 30 as a possible markup date on a resolution to go to Congress asking for taxing thresholds on CUs and a reversal of NCUA field of membership rulings. “It’s simply incredible-just brazen,” fumed Scott Simpson, president/CEO of the Utah League of Credit Unions, in assessing the latest gambit by the two-year-old Financial Institutions Task Force to enact a resolution urging federal lawmakers to turn back NCUA actions and let states and local bodies impose taxes on federal CUs. At a two-hour Nov. 4 meeting of the joint Senate-House Task Force, the more outspoken anti-CU lawmakers again urged the panel at its final meeting Nov. 30 – when it is slated to come up with a report to the January legislature – to adopt a non-binding resolution asking Congress take immediate action to halt what was called over-reaching NCUA policies. State Rep. Jeff Alexander (R- Provo) and author of the harsh 2003 anti-CU law which nearly imposed a 30% franchise tax on state-chartered CUs, said the panel should ask Congress “what its intentions are and what they are thinking” in relation to NCUA policies and tax exemption. But state Rep. Michael Waddoups (R-Taylorsville, Bountiful) a league supporter, maintained adopting a resolution “is meaningless” and besides, passage would only resurrect a very divisive and bitter bank/CU debate coming when there already “was a negative tone during the Presidential election.” Countering Waddoups, state Rep. Michael Noel (R-Kanab) said a resolution is needed considering “the purpose of bringing this up again is the very reason for establishing the task force.” In addition, there are important issues relating to government funding and financial support of Utah schools that would be addressed in a resolution, he said. Rep. Alexander insisted he is trying to find common ground and that he also would like to “get this issue behind us.” League leaders like Simpson have long scoffed at how far a resolution would go in the Congress. It’s a “silly” petition, said Simpson wondering how seriously Congress would listen to a group of Utah lawmakers with an anti-CU vendetta. Simpson has maintained the proceedings of the Task Force underscore the continuing anti-CU campaign of Zions Bancorp Chairman Harris Simmons, recently named chairman-elect of the American Bankers Association. Zions certainly isn’t hurting because of credit unions. It reported a record third quarter $102.5 million in earnings. That’s up from $62.1 million from the same quarter last year. For the first three quarters of ’04, Zions’ net income is $301 million, compared to $242.2 million for the same period last year. “Harris Simmons is the primary catalyst here. For some irrational reason, he continues to spend his bank’s money and waste taxpayer resources attacking credit unions. The appalling part here is he can’t produce any harm. If fact, the opposite is true. Banks in Utah are thriving. They like the rest of the country are producing significant earnings,” said Simpson. “Simmons is putting the legislature in this box again. Sadly, not to save anyone on the brink, but to further enrich the fortunate few already raking it in on their bank stock.” Simpson said the Task Force proceedings have been conducted in a “railroading” style with no notice or agenda given to the league or interested parties. “You would think they might have conducted these hearings with a little sense of elegance or sensitivity” to the public, he said. Quite to the contrary, he said, adding the public “is simply sick of it.” On a related subject, Simpson said the Nov. 2 election changed little in the makeup of the 2005 legislature which looks to continue its anti-CU atmosphere which has triggered some 15 CUs to convert to federal charters with a handful more in the wings. -

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