Hampton Roads, Piedmont, Southside and Tidewater credit union members, 80 strong, visited with their lawmakers and legislatives aides today to kick off a round of CU Days at the General Assembly.
Other groups at the General Assembly today included AARP and the Virginia Medical Society, illustrating how important CU Day is and how credit unions must always maintain face to face relationships with our elected officials or else risk being overlooked in the sea of groups vying for attention.
This is a relatively quiet session for credit unions, since our twin bills on bylaw changes have passed out of committees and out of the House and Senate with unanimous votes. They will face another hurdle mid-session after Crossover Day when each chamber considers legislation passed by the other. Since neither the state regulator overseeing credit unions nor the bankers are objecting to the credit union bills, we expect the legislation to gain approval again after Crossover.
Besides thanking lawmakers for voting yes on our bills, advocates are mentioning our monitoring of foreclosure legislation to ensure it doesn’t hamper credit unions’ ability to help members, and financial elder abuse bills that we support. Advocates are also taking time to promote their service to members, such as payday loan alternatives, financial education presentations and resources for the community, and training credit union staff on handling financial elder abuse.
Examples of good news reported by credit union advocates include BayPort talking about its loans of $500 or less that have helped members break the cycle of payday loans, and ABNB flagging several instances of financial elder abuse. Langley came armed with an overview of all its services to members and the community.
While walking through the General Assembly Building advocates flagged down legislators as they walked by to say hello, including Del.Onzlee Ware.
Highlights of legislators’ comments including Del. Chris Peace saying, “I have a very positive view of credit unions,” and Sen. John Miller lauding credit unions for offering payday loan alternatives through their own small-loan programs. “I point people to credit unions,” he said.
Del. Chris Stolle also had high praise for credit unions and the good work we do. He was particularly pleased to hear about our efforts in youth financial literacy, as credit union representatives noted that we reported reaching 37,000 students during the 2010-2011 school year with lessons on personal finance basics.
Del. Chris Stolle (center) meets with credit union representatives (from left): Whitt Clement, League retained counsel; League President Rick Pillow; ABNB Federal Credit Union's Craig Zuidema; and Beach Municipal Federal Credit Union's Leigh Ann Graham
Del. Stolle also encouraged credit unions to remain active participants in the political process. “As conscientious as we are in studying the bills introduced each session, the reality is that sometimes we need to hear directly from you on a bill’s impact. [I] can’t stress enough how important it is to keep us informed about your views on particular bills.”
He specifically noted legislation that proposed postponing some high graduation requirements. Fortunately, financial literacy requirements, which took effect this year with high school freshmen, were not among the list of proposed postponements. That was a direct result of the fight by credit unions and other financial literacy advocates to see these measures put in place.
Sen. Bill Stanley, patron of our credit union bill in the Senate (http://bit.ly/wIp20z) noted that his willingness to carry our bill in the Senate stems from his deep respect for credit unions. “I’m reminded of being in a meeting with a bunch of bankers and the first thing out of their mouths was, ‘We know you’re a credit union guy, but would you mind looking at one of our bills.’
I took that as a pretty big compliment and I’m proud to be a ‘credit union guy,’” noted Stanley in his meeting with Martinsville and Danville credit union representatives.
Our next CU Day is tomorrow, Jan. 25, when Central VA hits the hallways of the General Assembly Building.