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SALT LAKE CITY – It looks like those signatures of Utahns on “Save My Credit Union” petitions to Congress could hit 150,000 by the time they get packaged and shipped to Washington, but the question remained last week as to when the Utah legislature might actually send off its anti-CU resolution. “It’s really up to our Legislative Research division as to when it will go,” explained House Majority Leader Rep. Jeff Alexander, an author of the resolution adopted in final form by the legislature Feb. 21 and which encourages Congress to look at taxing both state and federal CUs and reviewing NCUA rulings. A spokesman for the research unit said “the enrolling process on bills should take another week” but meanwhile Alexander, a Provo Republican who often is labeled a CU antagonist and a staunch friend of the banking lobby, repeated his earlier public comments that he has talked to Utah Senator Robert Bennett about the resolution and he remains “interested” in its content. In an interview with Credit Union Times, Alexander said he has not spoken to Orrin Hatch, Utah’s senior senator, or the other three Utah House members, specifically about the resolution but that Bennett for one, has “an interest in doing something” on the tax/NCUA issues raised by the legislature’s 2004 Financial Institution Task Force. However, Alexander said Bennett told him a major roadblock remains Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) chairman of the Senate Banking Committee who has voiced support for the CU tax exemption. “Bennett said he was interested in hearing from the Utah legislature but that he would be unable to act on the resolution until there is a change in the chairmanship of the committee,” said Alexander Regarding the now-ended legislative battle over the resolution, Alexander said his views on CUs have long been misconstrued and that the anti-CU resolution “really has nothing to do with taxes but with getting direction from Congress on federal charters.” The Task Force, of which he was co-chairman and which drafted the resolution, was simply questioning NCUA authority as “a three-member agency – a bureaucracy that is making huge decisions” with impact on the Utah economy. “We simply want to know the intentions of the Congress” regarding NCUA policies, said Alexander. NCUA is an agency “that has gone too far” in wielding its authority and that issue is a legitimate one for the Congress to look at given that the courts have also raised concern, he said referring to a U.S. District Court Dec. 9 order remanding a six-county FOM expansion plan for a group of Utah CUs back to the agency. The leadership of the Utah League of Credit Unions, which has been conducting the signature drive and ad campaign attacking the resolution during the last two months, has long dismissed Alexander pronouncements as nonsense and accused him and others in leadership positions of being frontmen for the Utah Bankers Association in its long-running campaign to attack CUs on field of membership and business lending expansion. The Utah League also predicts the anti-CU resolution will go nowhere in Congress because federal lawmakers have no appetite for wading into the bank/CU fight over taxes. Apart from Bennett, Alexander said he does “plan to try” speaking to all the members of the Utah Congressional delegation once the anti-CU resolution is on its way to Washington. As adopted by the legislature, the resolution is also to be sent to the Speaker of the House and President of the Senate. Alexander said he was “unimpressed” by the Utah League’s “Citizens Petition” campaign which began in February to collect signatures of Utahns for delivery in Washington at the same time as the anti-CU resolution hits Congress He charged that the Utah League would not have gone to the lengths it has in developing its ad and signature campaign if it was not uneasy with the outcome. He said there was nothing to stop Congress from looking at the issues and “coming back and agreeing with the League that the state charter needs to be fixed.” But the campaign waged by the League was totally misguided and simply “wrong.” Constituents he has talked to “once they heard what the Task Force wanted to do” were totally mystified by the League campaign to undermine support for the resolution, he said. On another topic, the Provo legislator denied the banking lobby was influencing the Task Force work. “I have not talked to Harris Simmons in two years,” said Alexander referring to the chairman of Zions Bancorp, identified frequently by the League as the ringleader of the CU attacks. Simmons is also chairman-elect of the American Bankers Association. [email protected]

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