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AUSTIN, Texas – You’re a member of a credit union management team, and you have heard dozens of times how you need to become part of the grassroots effort to inform legislators -on a local, state and federal level – of the difference between banks and credit unions. It’s a great idea, you say, but you haven’t yet mobilized in that direction. So, what’s stopping you? As a Credit Union Times correspondent, I made my first contact with state and national legislators a couple of years ago. It didn’t take a lot of courage, as I banged it out on the computer and then sent it by e-mail. Writing on the computer is what I do day-in, day-out, so it was easy. And I’ve voiced my stands on numerous issues since then. This year at Texas Credit Union League’s Governmental Affairs Conference, I took the next step. I had been in the Texas Capitol before, but never to meet with my legislators. Well, I still haven’t. But what I did do was tag along with several credit union leaders from West Texas as they made their visits. In talking with members of the group, two had attended their first governmental affairs conferences on scholarships provided by Texas Credit Union Foundation. They were bitten by the bug and had returned this year. At least one had also journeyed to D.C. for “Hike the Hill.” We made three stops at the Capitol: Senator Robert Duncan’s office, Senator Kel Seliger’s office and Representative John Smithee’s office. We gained face-to-face time with two out of three. Senator Duncan (and his staff who had planned to meet with us) was tied up in a meeting and had to cancel, but we left behind information on issues critical to credit unions. Rep. Smithee had supported credit unions in the past and basically summarized for us that we just wanted the Legislature to “leave us alone.” We confirmed and left. Sen. Seliger took time to talk with us about our concerns, and we even managed to provide some helpful information about CUSOs to his staffer. It was a positive experience all the way around. No one even seemed to mind wandering around awhile trying to figure out which side of the building we would go to next.

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