COLUMBUS, Ohio – For the first time in 18 years, credit unions in Ohio are looking at the possibility their state Credit Union Act will be modernized. House Bill 81 was introduced Feb. 23 in the Ohio House of Representatives by state Rep. Geoffrey Smith (R-24). His measure has 18 co-sponsors including: Reps. Dixie Allen (D-39), Catherine Barrett (D-32), Kenneth Carano (D-59), Larry Flowers (R-19), Merle Grace Kearns (R-72), Randy Law (R-64), Jim McGregor (R-20), Sylvester Patton (D-60), Jeanine Perry (D-49), Jon Peterson (R-2), Linda Reidelbach (R-21), Dan Stewart (D-25), Fred Strahorn (D-40), Mary Taylor (R-43), Peter Ujvagi (D-47), Shawn Webster (R-53), Larry Wolpert (R-23), and Claudette Woodard (D-9). On the state Senate side, Sen. Bob Spada (R-24) is the sponsor of a companion bill- Senate Bill 72. That bill has nine co-sponsors including: Senators Jeffry Armbruster (R-13), Daniel Brady (D-23), Gary Cates (R-4), Marc Dann (D-32), Teresa Fedor (D-11), Timothy Grendell (R-18), Robert Hagan (D-33), Ray Miller (D-15), and Kimberly Zurz (D-28). Rep. Smith called House Bill 81 “a common-sense bill.” The purpose of the bill is to allow Ohio’s credit unions to better provide the quality financial products and services their member-owners need and deserve, the state legislator said. The ultimate winner is the Ohio consumer, Smith added. Smith, noting that the last time Ohio’s credit union laws were updated was in 1987, said while financial needs of credit union members have changed, the laws regulating credit unions have not evolved to adjust to these needs. It is important that we modernize these laws to ensure that credit unions have the necessary authority to serve their members in the best ways possible, he said. Among the provisions of the two bills, they: add definitions for low-income CUs, net worth, shares and deposits; authorize state and federally-chartered CUs as depositories for probate and guardianship assets; permit student branches of CUs to operate in public schools for grades K-12; allow CUs to offer limited financial services such as check cashing and wire transfers to people in underserved areas; permit electronic technology for meetings, record-keeping, and documentation; establish a safety and soundness standard for membership approval; provide additional authority to the Superintendent of Financial Institutions to adopt rules setting membership criteria; and simplify the process of adopting parity rules as they relate to other CUs not chartered under Ohio law. Ohio Credit Union League General Counsel John Kozlowski applauded Smith’s and Spada’s efforts on behalf of Ohio credit unions, saying “they are championing the rights of credit unions to serve their members in modern, efficient ways. Consumers are the winners in this legislation.” The two measures are the culmination of discussions the 10-member Ohio Charter Task Force chaired by Kemba Financial CU President/CEO Jerry Guy, has had with legislators to review the laws and regulations affecting Ohio credit unions. “These bills would give Ohio credit unions the regulatory flexibility they need to better serve their members,” said Guy. “There are nearly three million Ohioans who have wisely chosen to use credit unions to meet their financial needs. Our only goal is to figure out the best ways to serve these member-owners.” -

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