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COLUMBUS, Ohio – It’s been a long time coming – since 1987 to be exact – but on Jan. 10 Ohio credit unions finally got a modernized credit union bill when Gov. Bob Taft signed the legislation into law. House Bill 81 is effective in 90 days – April 10. It was sponsored by Rep. Geoffrey Smith (R-Upper Arlington); state Sen. Bob Spada (R-North Royalton) sponsored the companion bill on the Senate side, SB 72. Among the new law’s provisions, it expands the general powers of credit unions to allow them to open student-run branches for grades K-12 for students only; make “reasonable” contributions to any nonprofit, civic, charitable or service organization; hold board meetings and conduct voting electronically; allows all CUs to take in guardianship accounts or estate accounts for deceased members; allows CUs to offer retirement accounts, health savings accounts (HSAs) and education accounts; exempts transactions between credit unions and members from regulation under the Retail Installment Sales Act and the Consumer Sales Practices Act; and streamlines the parity provisions for state-chartered credit unions with federal credit unions by requiring parity rules to be adopted by the state Superintendent for a period of 30 months and then can be readopted for another 30 months. Ohio Credit Union League General Counsel John Kozlowski said overall the league was very pleased with the passage of the bill even though there were some provisions concerning CUs being able to do wire transfers and check cashing for non-members that wound up being deleted from the bill. He said legislators wanted to focus on credit unions serving just their members. “The law’s been a long time coming, it’s long overdue,” said Kozlowski. “We had minor revisions made to the previous state Credit Union Act over the years, but this is the first major credit union specific bill we’ve seen.” The league’s general counsel said while bill H.B.81 was introduced in February and signed into law 12 months later – a short time by some standards – it was still a long, ongoing process. He said there were 10 hearings held in the state House and four or five in the Senate. Everyone, he said, including the bankers, had the opportunity to comment on the bill. -

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