An Iowa legislator and credit union board member was dumbfounded by an eleventh-hour phone call from a banker on an upcoming savings promotion bill.   

Iowa Rep. Bob Kressig (D-Cedar Falls) told Credit Union Times that he received a call from a banker the day before a bill that would allow financial institutions to conduct savings promotion raffles was up for a vote in the House.

Kressig also serves on the board of the $1.7 billion Veridian Credit Union in Waterloo, Iowa.

“He challenged me saying I shouldn’t be able to vote on this because it was a conflict of interest. I asked ‘how so?’ The banker said ‘you’ll benefit from this personally.’ He thought credit union board members were paid. I had to tell him I’m a volunteer and I am not paid. [The banker] said ‘Oh, I didn’t know that,’” Kressig said.

Kressig said the Iowa Bankers Association “worked tirelessly” against the bill and he believed it was what ultimately killed any further movement. The bill passed in the Senate in March and was amended by a House committee to include several changes, including prohibiting financial institutions from reducing interest on savings accounts tied to raffles and charging fees to participants. It ultimately died in the House on Wednesday.

“For the life of me, I can’t understand why the [Iowa] bankers association is paying their lobbyists on bills that have no impact on them,” Kressig said. “But they chose to dig in and go after it. I would think bankers would be looking at issues like how to help small businesses.”

Kressig said he’s disappointed that House Majority Leader Linda Upmeyer did not want to debate the bill when it was presented. A handful of bankers also serve in the legislature, he pointed out. Still, he’s optimistic that the savings promotion raffle bill could gather steam again as an inclusion in another bill down the road.

“The troubling part to me is this was legislation we didn’t have to as credit unions but it was something to at least try so that we can get people to save more money,” the lawmaker and CU board member said.