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Join thousands of your credit union peers in Washington, D.C. to share the credit union difference with lawmakers. While we have adapted well to the digital environment, the true power of the GAC has always been all of us coming together.

 

Join us to:

 

  • Connect with the growing credit union community
  • Advance the credit union mission
  • Advocate for the financial well-being of more than 10 million credit union members in Alabama, Florida, and Georgia.

 

Register for the GAC     CUNA GAC Agenda

 

Washington, D.C. officials recently updated their COVID-19 mitigation strategies due to declining cases in the district. CUNA GAC attendees are no longer required to complete the Safe Expo verification process to access Walter E. Washington Convention Center. Please be aware some businesses may ask for verification of vaccination. While COVID-19 numbers are moving in the right direction, please know that attendees’ health and safety remains our top priority. We are continuing to monitor current conditions and will follow any applicable local or federal guidelines.

LSCU's CUNA GAC Webinar

 

The LSCU Advocacy conducted a webinar on February 10th highlighting our legislative priorities, conference agenda, and tips for a successful GAC. Below is a recording of that webinar:

 

 

Resources

Legislative Issues and Talking Points

 

THE CREDIT UNION DIFFERENCE

 

For 86 years, credit unions have been one of the strongest investments Congress has made in America’s communities. Credit unions are the original consumer financial protectors. They are not-for-profit, member-owned financial cooperative that provide the same financial services that traditional banks do, but that’s where the comparisons end. Every credit union member is a shareholder because they’re all individual owners. A credit union’s net income is shared with all its members, which generally means fewer fees, better rates, higher savings return, easier access to credit, and better, more personalized service.

 

Today, 120 million American consumers (10.3 million in Alabama, Florida, and Georgia) continue to choose credit unions as their financial services partner. Credit unions continue to advance our not-for-profit, collaborative mission pre, during, and post-pandemic. We invest in the financial health and security of every community. Credit unions remain committed to ensuring that our members have access to safe, affordable services that work for their individual needs and help them achieve their financial goals.

 

Here are a few more standout differences:

 

  • Credit unions provide members with financial literacy and counseling.
  • Credit unions save members $13.6 billion annually.
  • Even non-members benefit by $5.3 billion annually due to the presence of credit unions in local banking markets.
  • In addition to advancing our communities by strengthening financial well-being, credit unions account for nearly $20 billion in local, state, and federal taxes annually.

 

SUPPORTING THE 'EXPANDING FINANCIAL ACCESS FOR UNDERSERVED COMMUNITIES ACT'

 

  • Credit unions are committed to changing the lives of our 127 million members by aiding them in achieving their financial goals and providing for greater financial well-being. The restrictive nature of the credit union charter creates complications in serving underserved, low-income and rural communities.
  • Because of their unique structure, credit unions have restrictive access or closed fields of membership. An example is the Congressional Federal Credit Union, which congressional staff are eligible to join, but not just any member of the public.
  • The decline of locally owned financial institutions has left a niche that credit unions are ready to fill in banking deserts and underserved communities. 7.6% of Alabamians, 3.8% of Floridians, and 7.4% of Georgians are considered unbanked. Nationally, the average is 5.4%.
  • Credit unions have been working with the leadership of the House Financial Services Committee on a resolution to this issue. The solution: the Expanding Financial Access for Underserved Communities Act.
  • A credit union’s community presence may have limited access to serve an entire community. There are 4,990 credit unions nationally, serving more 128 million consumers and holding $2.02 trillion in assets (as of September 30, 2021).
  • The proposal allows credit unions to add underserved communities to the definition of field of membership for all credit unions. The bill also allows for unlimited business lending authority in these areas, which is currently capped at 12.25 % of a credit union’s assets. The language defines underserved communities as: 1) an Investment Area as defined by the Community Development Financial Institutions Fund (CDFI); 2) subject to the IRS definition for the New Markets Tax Credit; and 3) is beyond 10 miles to the closest branch of a financial institution.
  • This proposal has been heard by the House Financial Services Committee in hearings on May 19 and July 21 and it has the support of the leadership of the House Financial Services Committee and GOP-invited witnesses.
  • Representative Ed Perlmutter (D-CO), the chairman of the subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Protection, has agreed to author the bill. We are currently awaiting on the Republican co-lead to announce support.

Our "Ask" of Congress:

 

  • Be on the lookout for “Dear Colleague” letters announcing the introduction of the Expanding Financial Access for Underserved Communities Act (Perlmutter).
  • Co-sponsor: vote “yes” and express support to Mr. Perlmutter’s office for this reasonable solution.

 

CREDIT CARD INTERCHANGE FEES

 

  • In the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, the infamous Durbin Amendment was attached regulating the cost of debit card interchange fees.
  • These are fees paid by merchants for the privilege of accepting payment cards and receiving swift payment for services.
  • The rates and pay-tables are set by the networks, Visa, MasterCard, American Express and others.
  • The intention of the Durbin Amendment was to bring down consumer prices by regulating these fees, which were painted as a windfall for financial institutions. A Jan. 5, 2021 study by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau assessed the impact of the Durbin Amendment and found that it failed to achieve its objective.
  • Financial institutions remain responsible for fraud and data security losses that stem from breaches caused by retailers that do not secure their payment data.
  • Interchange is designed to cover some of these costs.
  • We are aware of a limited group of bipartisan Members of Congress from both the Senate and House examining the impact of interchange fees on credit cards.
  • Credit cards are different from debit, as they are revolving short-term loans provided by a financial institution. They are also more likely to be subject to theft given that they are often used for larger purchases. Out of these problems arise difficult challenges.
  • To date, no legislation or print has been introduced or circulated.
  • We hope Congress will oppose — or not advance — any conversation on credit card interchange, knowing the failures of the Durbin debit card law.

Our "Ask" of Congress:

 

  • Please oppose any attempts to regulate credit card interchange fees, as we have seen the intention of the debit card regulation (Durbin Amendment) fail consumers.

BANKS SELLING TO CREDIT UNIONS

 

  • Since 2004, banks have shuttered a net of 6,000+ branches, creating 86 banking deserts. In the same period, credit unions have opened a net 1,600 branches.
  • This all but a non‐issue. Since 2012, credit unions have acquired fewer than 35 banks (compared to the 2,000+ bank‐on‐bank acquisitions). This equates to only .3% of total acquired assets ($4.7B vs $1.7T). Furthermore, the average asset size of the credit union‐acquired bank is on average $156 million, whereas banks tend to spend their time on larger entities (averaging $850 million).
  • 80% of bank sales to credit unions involve low-income designated credit unions, demonstrating the credit union’s commitment to serving those who benefit most from locally focused financial institutions.
  • CUNA estimates that the 211,000 new members added to credit unions through bank acquisitions since 2012 have accrued a financial benefit of roughly $31 million in the last calendar year alone. This is through profits being returned to credit union members through dividends, lower fees, and reduced interest, keeping the money in local economies. For big banks that acquire community banks, the profits are often syphoned to the mothership in places like New York and Charlotte (large out of state banks have accounted for 59% of assets acquired since 2012 with banks $5B+ of any geography accounting for 75%).
  • For the bankers who complain that this is a loss of tax revenue, this is a doubly false narrative. First, the sale of the bank is subject to capital gains taxes for all of the shareholders, with the ensuing credit unions being subject to the same employment and state taxes that all credit unions pay. Secondly, the bankers were themselves subject to a $30B tax windfall from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Additional talking points
  • No one is forcing a bank to sell to a credit union. These banks are making a business decision to sell their branches and businesses to credit unions, and they’re doing it because it makes sense for everyone. o It’s good for the banks’ customers, which gain access to strong, responsible, member‐centric financial services rather than facing a profit‐ hungry big bank — or, worse, no financial partner at all. o It’s great for the communities that the banks are writing off because more credit unions will be able to help people achieve their financial security and growth.
  • Credit unions are not and never will be the same as banks. While banks continue to seek means of enriching their shareholders, credit unions continue to serve their members’ bottom line through fewer and reduced fees and lower interest rates.
  • While credit unions have been recognized for their member‐owned mission and structure by being granted not‐for‐profit status, they continue to pay a host of local, state, and federal taxes that support their communities. Furthermore, in buying the bank in question, the purchase of shareholders' stakes is subject to applicable taxes.
  • The purchase of a bank is not only legal, it’s advantageous. While the bank shareholders get cash (unlike the stock they’d receive were the bank purchased by another bank), the credit union gains an efficient way of expanding service to a new area, buying a mature small business lending portfolio and investing more into an existing service area.
  • As a result, the bank and the credit union each fulfill their purpose and it shows that credit unions are committed to expanding their reach to bring more Americans and more small businesses into credit union membership.
  • We should not be surprised that the bankers are trying new ways to express their frustration with the market and with credit unions.
  • Bank CEOs aren’t saying this is a bad business practice. Bank CEOs are the ones who are making the decision to sell to not‐for‐profit, member‐owned credit unions. It seems the bank associations are using this as a way to rally their membership in an attempt to bolster their value proposition. They may want this to be a policy matter, but at the end of the day it’s about blaming credit unions for their own member banks’ decisions. And some quotes from a St. Louis Fed report:
  • The publication concludes: “if they can retain enough of the employees and customers, these transactions have the potential to be a win for all the stakeholders involved.”
  • Also ‐ credit unions can be seen as “preferable suitors” for many banks, he says because: “small community banks tend to have deep ties to their customers and take pride in fostering their communities’ growth and financial security. Other things equal, the owners of these banks might prefer to sell to an organization that has similar customer‐oriented values. That is, they might feel that they have more in common with the culture at a neighborhood credit union than with the culture of a distant large bank.”
  • At the end of the day, this is ICBA (community bankers trade) complaining about losing members. They’re afraid to tell their members who they can and can’t sell to, and they want to use this hit piece as a cudgel against their own members.

PRESERVE THE CREDIT UNION TAX EXEMPTION

 

Our concern is not a single bill to tax credit unions. We are concerned that when the time comes due to pay for the nation’s economic response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the credit union tax status will look like an easy revenue generator. We are pleased to see that discussion on the reconciliation and bipartisan infrastructure package did not include taxing credit unions. We need Congressional leaders to continue to protect the credit union tax status and speak up for protecting our industry.

 

The “cost” of the credit union tax status amounts to five budget hours of running the U.S. government out of a whole calendar year. Meanwhile, credit unions return $18.9 billion annually to communities nationally each year. Regardless of size and scope, a credit union is a not-for-profit, cooperative financial institution, operated by volunteers and owned by those that use it.

 

  • Credit unions in Alabama represent a $2.4 billion economic impact while returning $28 million in total financial benefits to their communities.
  • Credit unions in Florida represent a $9.3 billion economic impact while returning $635 million in total financial benefits to their communities.
  • Credit unions in Georgia represent a $2.5 billion economic impact while returning $259 million in total financial benefits to their communities.

DATA SECURITY

 

  • The current patchwork of data privacy and security regulations leaves all of us vulnerable. Credit unions work daily to protect Americans by adhering to data security standards as required under the 1999 Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA). For credit unions, data security comes down to two areas – data storage (covered by GLBA) and payment methods that are not protected by retailers.
  • Every day millions of consumer’s privacy and personal information are threatened by ever more sophisticated cybercriminals and rouge state actors. Since 2005 there have been over 10,000 data breaches exposing over 1.5 billion consumers to fraud, identity theft, and billions in lost productivity to our national economy.
  • Congress has not acted on meaningful data security legislation. Their attention on data breaches has veered from payment methods (until the next major breach) toward a general debate of private information. Further, breaches continue in the non-financial services sector forcing any attention to the issue to be diminished. Congress has been reviewing social media sites and well as the Internet of Things (IoT) without any path to consensus.
  • With credit unions already covered under the GLBA requirements, credit unions must educate Members of Congress and their staff about our recommendations for securing consumer data which include:
    • Hackers will penetrate the weakest links in any security system thus, all those in the payments transaction link should be held to the same standard. Only financial institutions are required to have security standards (under GLBA). All who accept payments, regardless of method should be required to have data security standards.
    • Almost every state now has their own set of regulations adding to this patchwork of confusion. Credit unions advocate for a strong uniform national standard for both data security and consumer notification. This includes requiring breached entities to go public following a law enforcement investigation.

Our “Ask” of Congress:

 

Credit unions have followed GLBA’s privacy and data security requirement for over 20 years. We agree there needs to be an update in this day of digital privacy. Our position is to support a very strong national data security law that brings all those that collect, use, share, process, and house consumer information under one uniform standard.

 

CANNABIS BANKING

 

Providing financial services for cannabis-related businesses is a choice for each individual credit union, and only a few are offering these services until there is a change in federal law. Nationally, credit unions support the SAFE Banking Act, as well as the STATES Act, both which would take steps to provide a safe harbor on this product line.

 

SMALL BUSINESS LENDING - MEMBER BUSINESS LENDING

 

Credit unions continue to support legislation that would grant a one-year freeze from the credit union member-business lending cap. We estimate this reprieve would generate about $5.5B nationally in economic growth along with 50,000 jobs. Legislation on this issue is pending introduction.

 

STIMULUS CHECKS/IMPACT ON NET WORTH

 

Credit unions are experiencing a high volume of deposits as consumers receive stimulus checks or Economic Impact Payments. Because of our unique structure, deposit growth can put strains on the credit union balance sheet that brings about unnecessary regulatory scrutiny. We are speaking with the Financial Services and Senate Banking Committees about this issue, as no healthy credit union should be penalized on account of stimulus checks.

 

CHARTER BILLS

 

Credit unions understand the realities of legislating in this environment. We know there are large national priorities from the healthcare crisis to social justice issues. We want to be a solution and aid our communities. Supporting new charter bills will ensure credit unions can bring financial inclusion to new levels, while ushering equitable financial well-being.

 

POSTAL BANKING

 

To expand consumers’ access to more banking options, credit unions adamantly support and are diligently working toward the goal of expanding banking access, but we have grave reservations about proposals to leverage the United States Postal Service or create a public bank to achieve this goal. The Postal Service was not designed to provide financial services and such a proposal would stretch the Postal Service beyond its expertise. Instead of asking the Postal Service to do something it is not prepared or set up to do, we ask Members of Congress to utilize their platforms to highlight the consumer-friendly options provided by credit unions.

District Member Date/Time Location
AL01 Rep. Jerry Carl - ATTENDANCE LIMITED March 2nd at 1:45 p.m. 1330 Longworth
AL02 Rep. Barry Moore March 2nd at 11:30 a.m. 385 Russell SOB
AL03 Rep. Mike D. Rogers March 2nd at 12:30 p.m. 385 Russell SOB
AL04 Rep. Robert Aderholt March 2nd at 12:00 p.m. SR 385
AL05 Rep. Mo Brooks March 2nd at 11:00 a.m. 385 Russell SOB
AL06 Rep. Gary Palmer - ATTENDANCE LIMITED March 2nd at 4:00 p.m. 170 Cannon HOB
AL07 Rep. Terri Sewell    
US Senate Sen. Tommy Tuberville March 2nd at 9:30 a.m. 385 Russell SOB
US Senate Sen. Richard Shelby March 2nd at 10:30 a.m. 385 Russell SOB

District Member Date/Time Location
FL01 Rep. Matt Gaetz    
FL02 Rep. Neal Dunn March 2nd at 1:30 p.m. Cannon 121 HOB
FL03 Rep. Kat Cammack March 2nd at 1:15 p.m. Cannon 121
FL04 Rep. John Rutherford March 2nd at 4:00 p.m. Cannon 121
FL05 Rep. Al Lawson March 2nd at 2:00 p.m. Cannon 121
FL06 Rep. Michael Waltz - ATTENDANCE LIMITED March 1st at 11:00 a.m. Capitol Hill Club
FL07 Rep. Stephanie Murphy    
FL08 Rep. Bill Posey March 2nd at 11:20 a.m. Rayburn 2220 HOB
FL09 Rep. Darren Soto    
FL10 Rep. Val Demings - ATTENDANCE LIMITED March 2nd at 11:30 a.m. 217 Cannon HOB
FL11 Rep. Daniel Webster March 2nd at 1:00 p.m. Cannon 121 HOB
FL12 Rep. Gus Bilirakis    
FL13 Rep. Charlie Crist    
FL14 Rep. Kathy Castor March 2nd at 12:30 p.m. Cannon 121
FL15 Rep. Scott Franklin March 2nd at 11:30 a.m. Cannon 121
FL16 Rep. Vern Buchanan    
FL17 Rep. Greg Steube March 2nd at 1:30 p.m. Rayburn 2220 HOB
FL18 Rep. Brian Mast March 2nd at 10:45 a.m. Rayburn 2220 HOB
FL19 Rep. Byron Donalds March 2nd at 1:00 p.m. Rayburn 2220 HOB
FL20 Rep. Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick March 2nd at 12:00 p.m. Rayburn 2220
FL21 Rep. Lois Frankel March 2nd at 10:00 a.m. Rayburn 2220
FL22 Rep. Ted Deutch    
FL23 Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz    
FL24 Rep. Frederica Wilson    
FL25 Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart    
FL26 Rep. Carlos Gimenez    
FL27 Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar    
US Senate Sen. Marco Rubio    
US Senate Sen. Rick Scott - ATTENDANCE LIMITED March 2nd at 2:10 p.m. 716 Hart SOB

District Member Date/Time Location
GA01 Rep. Buddy Carter March 2nd at 2:45 p.m. 2168 Rayburn HOB
GA02 Rep. Sanford Bishop - ATTENDANCE LIMITED March 1st at 2:00 p.m. 2407 Rayburn HOB
GA03 Rep. Drew Ferguson March 2nd at 3:00 p.m. 2168 Rayburn HOB
GA04 Rep. Hank Johnson    
GA05 Rep. Nikema Williams    
GA06 Rep. Lucy McBath    
GA07 Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux March 2nd at 12:30 p.m. 2168 Rayburn HOB
GA08 Rep. Austin Scott March 2nd at 11:00 a.m. 2168 Rayburn HOB
GA09 Rep. Andrew Clyde March 2nd at 9:30 a.m. 2168 Rayburn HOB
GA10 Rep. Jody Hice March 2nd at 11:30 a.m. 2168 Rayburn HOB
GA11 Rep. Barry Loudermilk March 2nd at 1:45 p.m. 2168 Rayburn HOB
GA12 Rep. Rick Allen March 2nd at 10:15 a.m. 2168 Rayburn HOB
GA13 Rep. David Scott    
GA14 Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene    
US Senate Sen. Jon Ossoff March 2nd at 9:00 a.m. 2168 Rayburn HOB
US Senate Sen. Raphael Warnock    

 

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Alabama Office: 22 Inverness Center Pkwy., Suite 200, Birmingham, AL 35242

Florida Office: 3692 Coolidge Court, Tallahassee, FL 32311

Georgia Office: 2810 Premiere Pkwy., Suite 150, Duluth, GA 30097

 

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