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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Gov. Jeb Bush hasn’t yet signed Florida’s credit union modernization bill into law, but considering the way the measure “sailed” through the state legislature with virtually no opposition, the Florida Credit League is already pointing to it as proof that their efforts over the last few years to raise the bar higher on the League’s political advocacy efforts have been well worthwhile. Bush has until June 15 to sign SB1330, and it will become law even if the governor doesn’t meet that deadline. But FCUL VP, Communications and Public Relations Mark Ivester said the League is trying to get a formal signing ceremony for the measure. “It would be great if Gov. Bush signed the bill on June 15 which coincides with the start of our annual conference,” in Orlando and runs through June 18, said Ivester. When it becomes effective on July 1, the bill will recodify the state’s credit union law for the first time in 23 years since the enactment of the 1982 revision of the Florida Credit Union Act. Among its provisions, SB 1330 revises procedures concerning starting a credit union, clarifies sections on “community” definitions in accordance with NCUA rules, authorizes emergency action in cases of failing credit unions, revises provisions concerning changes of a credit union’s place of business and establishing branch locations revises credit unions’ loan powers including power to issue debit or credit cards, and modernizes terminology on director duties as well Florida League’s Executive Vice President Aletta Shutes said the “relatively easy” passage of SB 1330 and HB 1733 – the House version of the bill – “is the culmination of the League’s efforts over the last 10 years in the area of political advocacy. Two years ago we set up a task force to go through the act line by line to see what needed to be updated and appointed Ray Cromer, president/CEO, Envision CU, to chair that committee.” Shutes said the task force kept the state Department of Financial Services apprised of the status of its work, and held several meetings over the course of the two years some of which were attended by DFI staff, “so they were with us all the way on the things we wanted to change.” When it came time to move on the legislation, the League tapped Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-48) to introduce HB 1733 and Senate Banking Committee Chairman Jeff Atwater (R-25), who is also a banker, to sponsor SB 1330. “When I came here in 1993, I was told the most money the Florida League had raised for political action was $22,000. Last year, in 2004, we raised just short of $500,000,” said Shutes. How did the Florida League accomplish the feat? Shutes’ answer is simple and to the point: “I know I can pit certain credit union CEOs against each other, I like to challenge them. “Every year we say we’ve done so well, and we wind up raising the bar higher every time so we don’t get comfortable,” she adds. Shutes says the key is keeping credit unions involved at both the local and state levels. “When I came here, credit unions and CEOs weren’t accustomed to making individual donations. It’s important to get them involved, and also get legislators involved with our efforts,” she explains citing by example the eight dinners the League hosted for various elected officials in Washington, D.C. in March during CUNA’s Governmental Affairs Conference. In the second half of 2005 and looking ahead to 2006, Shutes says the Florida League intends to work with state legislators to get a financial literacy course built in the state’s education curriculum. On the national level, the League’s focus will be on building support among Florida members of Congress and the Senate for CURIA. “We intend to keep in touch with our congressmen and U.S. senators on the bill, to show our interest in what they’re doing and gain their support for our measure,” says Shutes. -

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