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DES MOINES, Iowa – As the campaign season gears up, Iowa Rep. Bob Kressig (D-Cedar Falls) has been told by some of his constituents that they are receiving questionable, recorded phone calls about his track record. Kressig, a director at $1 billion Veridian Credit Union, who first came to office in 2004, is running for election again this year. Over the last few weeks, he said “negative taped messages, called robocalls,” have been making the rounds. One said Kressig supports “big” insurance companies over small business. Kressig said he backed a bill in the House to lower health insurance costs for small businesses and a five-year pilot project that would test the effectiveness of association insurance pools and the effect on the overall small business group insurance market. The House stopped debate on the bill and the pilot was scuttled when “special interest groups” heard about it, he said. Another message supported recess and lunch as “instructional time” in school. Kressig said he opposed a bill to change the required 180 days of class time to more than 1,000 hours of instructional time after talking with experts who suggested it would not be a good move for schools. “Unfortunately, it appears the campaign season has already begun and my opponents have already sunk to new lows,” Kressig said, adding he doesn’t know who’s behind the robocalls but he has “a pretty good idea” of who it might be. Kressig said he would not say who could be making the anonymous calls. Meanwhile, Iowa’s legislative session, which was supposed to end April 18, was still in session at press time as legislators continued to work on the state’s budget, particularly in the area of education funding, Kressig said. After the session wraps, he said he will kick off his campaign for re-election. Iowa credit unions scored a huge victory in helping Kressig to the Iowa House of Representatives in 2004. Kressig proved a strong and popular challenger in his win over incumbent Erv Dennis in a highly competitive race where the winning margin was less than 200 votes out of 13,000 cast. Electing a credit union leader to the Iowa legislature has been a vision of the Iowa Credit Union League since they narrowly defeated legislation imposing a tax increase in 2003, the league said. “With several practicing bankers in the Iowa Legislature willing to disadvantage credit unions, it was essential for credit unions to work hard to elect candidates who favor our industry,” said Justin Hupfer, the league’s vice president of government affairs and internal counsel at the time. Iowa credit unions also took an active role in opposing then incumbent Rep. Gene Manternach. Manternach proved problematic for credit unions by supporting a tax increase and writing misleading editorials about credit unions according to the league. At the time, Project Zip Code identified over 9,000 constituents in Manternach’s district. Credit unions reached out to their membership, provided grassroots support and aggressively advertised to defeat Manternach. The credit union community affirmatively responded and voted Manternach out of office, the league said. Kressig said it’s been relatively quiet in Iowa on issues impacting credit unions including on the taxation matter. “I don’t know if it’s because I’m here” and people are starting to become more educated about credit unions, Kressig said. “I hope that’s why.” Still, he has his radar on. “You might blink and the taxation issue could come up again,” Kressig said. One issue that credit unions in Iowa should be watching is a small business health insurance reform plan, Kressig suggested. The bill allows the formation of health insurance pools through certain business associations. The controversy centers on concerns that the mechanism allows certain business associations to form insurance pools that will inevitably lead to “cherry picking.” Cherry picking is the process by which an insurer selectively screens applicants to get the healthiest or lowest risk members while avoiding potentially less healthy or higher risk members. Looking forward, Kressig continues to urge credit union representatives to run for state legislative offices. “It’s important to add [credit union] people to the ranks in state government,” he said. “There are a lot of bankers [serving] in legislature now. If you’re thinking of running, do so.” Kressig said he would be happy to be a sounding board for budding candidates. His newly-revised Web site is www.bobkressig.com. -

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