BEAVERTON, Ore. – After fighting back a banker-sponsored bill in the 2003 state legislative session to have credit unions taxed, the Credit Union Association of Oregon came prepared in the 2005 session in case the bankers renewed the effort. They didn’t, and coupled with credit unions’ success in getting the state’s Credit Union Act updated, CUAO is calling the recently ended 2005 session another success. The Oregon state legislature meets biannually and convenes the second week of January in odd number years. CUAO SVP of Governmental Affairs/Public Relations Pamela Leavitt explained that the legislature doesn’t have a requirement for when it has to adjourn by “so we never know when the session will end. They always aim for July 4, but it’s gone longer each year.” The 2003 session was the longest in the state’s history – it went until the end of August. The 2005 was the second longest, going over eight months and ending on Aug. 5. Leavitt admitted that “going into the 2005 session, we were very concerned the bankers would try to introduce another tax bill. We worked very hard against the one they introduced in 2003, HB 3491, and that died in committee. In a proactive move, we did a public awareness campaign, had a lot of grassroots activity and a strong PAC to support state races, but the bankers didn’t introduce another bill.” Ironically instead, she explained, the CUAO and bankers group actually ended up working together instead of against each other on several initiatives such as financial education, identity theft and data security issues. For example, Senate Bill 748 introduced by Sen. Vicki Walker (D-7) and House Bill 2849 introduced by Reps. Bill Garrard (R-56) and House Minority Leader Jeff Merkley (D-47), require the Oregon Department of Education to develop a model financial education program and encourage schools to adopt the program. CUAO is most proud of introducing and getting passed HB 2578 which was signed into law by Gov. Ted Kulongoski May 25 and includes several provisions that update the state Credit Union Act. Among the areas addressed are corporate governance, technical amendments regarding investments in subsidiary service organizations and maintenance of reserves, and clarification of credit unions’ use of mobile facilities. In addition, the bill: * allows CUs to offer health savings accounts * allows CUs to conduct electronic voting * sets guidelines for mobile branches including the field of membership for the credit union remains the same regardless of where the mobile branch is located * outlines some specific requirements on filling volunteer director positions * eliminates some outdated language With the next legislative session still two years out, Leavitt said CUAO has “nothing in its sight yet” on its 2007 legislative agenda. “We usually have at least one bill in each session, but we don’t know at this time what sensitive issue we’ll hit,” she said, adding that CUAO has a committee that’s responsible for “hashing it out internally” before taking it to the legislative level. – [email protected]

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