About 40 credit union members heard area lawmakers praise credit unions and urge them to stay in contact during the Roanoke Valley Chapter’s annual legislators’ night.
Sen. John Edwards and Dels. Greg Habeeb, Charles Poindexter, and Onzlee Ware spoke at the event. Sen. Bill Stanley also dropped by, but had to leave before dinner on a work-related matter. Stanley is a member of the Commerce and Labor Committee and a past patron of credit union legislation.
Edwards told the audience that the state government affects people’s live more directly than the federal government, citing state activities such as licensing, regulating businesses, and instructing localities on what they can and cannot do. He also thanked credit unions on three counts:
- their financial literacy services (he cited financial illiteracy as a tremendous problem. One example is college students using credit cards to fund their education; Edwards said credit unions advise members on the proper use of various loan products.
- Micro-lending. It keeps members from being stuck in the debt trap, he said, adding, “You’ve really stepped up to the plate.”
- Community involvement. You earn your tax exemption, Edwards said.
Habeeb said it was great to share the evening with so many friends and clients of his law firm. He also thanked credit unions for what they do in their communities, adding that credit unions grasp a broader sense of what is happening in the economy and communities because of their work. He also said he was gratified to have been asked to serve as a patron for credit union legislation, saying asking to be a patron is a statement of relationship between a lawmaker and the individual or group making the request. He urged everyone to vote in November because “campaigns matter.”
Poindexter noted that his wife Janet, in attendance, started her Navy FCU account as a young girl, saving $700 dollars in babysitting money to help pay for college. Citing financial literacy statistics from a press release given to all attending lawmakers, Poindexter called credit unions a “national leader” in financial education. He also challenged credit unions to give him feedback on the legislation that requires high school students to take financial education classes before graduation.
Poindexter also praised credit unions for helping furloughed federal employees, nothing that there are two members of his family furloughed because of the government shutdown. “I don’t see other financial institutions stepping up and offering help to those who need it. I thank you for that. That’s who you are. That why I’ll stand by you.”
Ware said while he could attend dinners every night with constituent groups, the credit union legislative night is one of the few evening events he does take in. “It is my honor to be here,” he said. He praised credit unions for raising their image in Richmond during the decade he has served in the General Assembly. Previously, he said, credit unions were not thought of on par with other financial institutions. But credit union lobbying efforts and education to lawmakers on credit unions’ service to their communities has changed that. “Your image has increased, your presence is well-received,” Ware said, citing what many lawmakers cite about credit union advocacy in Richmond – the annual parade of red scarves. “We know you’re in town!”
Ware also urged credit unions to continue to tell their stories. “If you’re not down there (at the General Assembly), you don’t matter,” he said, echoing words of other lawmakers who said they won’t know what credit unions do or need if they don’t talk to their lawmakers. “If you don’t talk, we don’t know,” he intoned.
The League’s external lobbying firm of Hunton & Williams was represented at the event by Phil Boykin. The legislative portion of the meeting was emceed by the League’s Director of Governmental Affairs Karin Sherbin.