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WASHINGTON-Credit unions’ works and philosophy are behind Congressman Paul Kanjorski’s (D-Pa.) backing of credit union issues. “Credit unions represent a very core interest I’ve had all my life and that’s developing democratic capitalism,” he said. The credit union movement, Kanjorski cited, encourages people to save and offers opportunities; they also practice character lending. “In Pennsylvania, we suffered from the industrial depression of the’60s, `70s, `80s.To a large extent, it was the credit unions that extended the $300, $500, $1,000 loans for mobility,” he said. Again, when the federal government shut down temporarily about 10 years ago, the credit unions in his area offered forbearances on loans and made loans to keep families going. Pennsylvania has the most credit unions of any state at 668, according to NCUA’s Web site (www.ncua.gov). Kanjorski boasts membership in a few of them. For example, he is a member of Choice One Federal Credit Union in Wilkes-Barre. He told the credit union he saw a need for small business loans in the area and suggested it get involved. Now, they are very active in business lending, according to Kanjorski. He also pointed out that Service 1st Federal Credit Union has opened a branch inside the local high school and is teaching students the miracle of compound interest. “The small banks did this when I was in school but they seem to have given up on that,” he noted. Kanjorski described the Credit Union Regulatory Improvements Act as a follow up to H.R. 1151, the Credit Union Membership Access Act, which he helped maneuver through Congress. He noted that last Congress, CURIA did not seem to be as focused an effort as 1151, “but people are now starting to realize” the significance of it. “Once we get everybody focused on it, credit unions have been very successful,” the congressman stated. He particularly noted the importance of the capital provisions. “The most important advantage for a credit union is to be superlative in capital,” Kanjorski said. He hopes to have the bill introduced late this spring. The bill is on the oversight plan for the committee, so the senior member does not see a problem getting a hearing for the bill. Last year, the bill had 69 sponsors, both Democrat and Republican. “I find the credit union movement has warm feelings on both sides of the aisle,” he commented. Kanjorski also emphasized that he does not favor credit unions over banks. Congressman Kanjorski has served in the House since 1984, representing five counties in Northeastern Pennsylvania. He led the way in assembling CityVest, a nonprofit organization that will act as a developer of last resort for blighted properties in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Kanjorski was also the one who pushed for the provision in CURIA that would allow credit unions to lease unused office space in underserved areas. Prior to serving in Congress, he worked as a trial attorney and workers’ compensation administrative law judge. Kanjorski also served in the Army in the early 1960s. He attended Temple University and the Dickinson School of Law. He and his wife, Nancy, have one daughter and reside in Nanticoke. [email protected]

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