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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Cole County Circuit Court Judge Richard Callahan has issued his decision on the credit union FOM case and ruled that the regulation determined by the state Credit Union Commission is invalid. In announcing his decision on March 24, Callahan said the geographic definitions contained in the regulation conflict with state statute. The lawsuit was filed by the Missouri Bankers Association and several state banks that dispute the commission’s definitions of field of membership expansion. The Director of the Division of Credit Unions and the Credit Union Commission, along with 10 CUs and the Missouri Credit Union Association, are defendants in the case. According to the MCUA, the court overruled the commission’s statutory authority to define what would be considered a valid geographic area, including zip code, telephone area code, county, township, city, other geographic area with clearly defined boundaries, and an area that includes persons with common interests. Reacting to the circuit court’s decision, MCUA President/CEO Rosie Holub expressed the association’s disappointment “with the Cole County Circuit Court’s recent decision to reject the statutory authority of the Credit Union Commission of the State of Missouri to define terms and issue regulations regarding the governance of credit unions.” As a result of the 1998 passage of the Credit Union Membership Access Bill in Missouri, the Credit Union Commission was created and charged with defining terms in the act including the definition of “family” and the phrase “local neighborhood, community, or rural district” as it described a geographic area. In 2001, credit unions began implementing FOM expansions using the definitions provided by the commission. Soon after, bankers challenged these expansions in the courts. There are currently 10 active cases and one pending appeal case that the Credit Union Commission hasn’t yet heard. “We are confident that the appellate court will overturn the circuit court decision and give due deference to the rulings of a regulatory commission authorized by state statute,” she added. The defendants have 30 days from the date of the decision – March 24 – to decide whether to appeal the case. “Credit unions are among the most highly regulated and restricted of all insured financial institutions. We will continue our efforts at the local, state, and federal levels to advocate a fair and level playing field for credit unions in Missouri, which serve more than 1.2 million people statewide,” Holub added.

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