Digital illustration of an abacus to count Republican and Democrat votes. Area for text or title is included.
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The California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues’ Annual Meeting and Conference kicked off just one day after one of the most tumultuous mid-term election cycles in recent American history. With the Democrats regaining control of the House of Representatives, while the Republicans maintained their majority in the Senate, many political pundits are predicting legislative gridlock. Credit Union Journal asked attendees for their opinions as to what it all means for CUs. Read on for their reactions.
Jon Hernandez, president and CEO of three CUs, including $26 million-asset Mattel FCU, El Segundo, Calif.
I have two perspectives: being a credit union CEO and a director for the California Credit Union League. I know the league’s advocacy team does a really good job of supporting candidates from both parties. We lost a few big credit union supporters, including Ed Royce retiring, so we did a good job of reaching out to new candidates prior to the election. It is hard to tell exactly what is going to happen the next two years, but I have confidence in our team and the relationships they have made.
Kirk Drake, president and CEO of Ongoing Operations, founder and author of Credit Union 2.0, Ashland, Ore.
I see everything being status quo. I don’t think anything is going to change. There will be no more new regulations, but there will be no more reg relief. We will see legislative deadlock. Everybody will believe they have a mandate – even if they won 51 percent to 49 percent – and no one will accomplish anything.
Jeremy Empol, lobbyist and VP of federal government affairs for the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues
Credit unions have had a really successful year, including [passage of] S. 2155, which set us up long-term to present the new Congress with information. In California and Nevada there were not a lot of new Congress people. We have had a great relationship with [Maxine] Waters [the California Democrat who is the presumptive next chair of the House Financial Services Committee]. Credit unions need to stay focused on the long game, and they need to continue educating and engaging with members of Congress. We need to continue to do what we do best – tell our story.
Carrie Birkhofer, president and CEO of $988 million-asset Bay FCU, Capitola, Calif.
I focus on local politics so I feel fortunate that our Congressman [Democrat Jimmy Panetta] was re-elected. He has always been a friend to credit unions. I enjoy meeting with him, both in our district and when I go to Washington, D.C., for Hike the Hill events.
Nationally, there is a lot being discussed, including [Wednesday’s] announcement that [Attorney General] Jeff Sessions is out. That will be interesting for cannabis banking. We do not do cannabis banking, but if it were legal we would.
Cindy Glessner, president and CEO of $74 million-asset VA Desert Pacific FCU, Long Beach, Calif.
Where we get affected by elections is through a trickle-down. I have problems with a Democratic supermajority in the California state legislature because I am fiscally conservative. Thankfully, we got 1-to-4-unit housing taken out of member business lending. Property Assessed Clean Energy loans are a big deal for many credit unions. We don’t do them, but they affect us because we do mortgages and if there is a sneaky lien somewhere that can be a disrupter. There is lots of hubbub about cannabis, but for it to work lawmakers have to resolve the conflict between state and federal law. We cannot have regulators telling us it is legal but it is not legal, and we might prosecute you but we might not prosecute you.
Elections are an event, but what affects credit unions is a process – a long, glacial process. We have to figure it all out.
Eric Bruen, president and CEO of $40 million-asset Desert Valley FCU, Ridgecrest, Calif.
One of the strengths credit unions have always had is maintaining a bipartisan approach with legislators. The wave of change in 2018, which follows the wave of change in 2016, will be something credit unions will ride out.
One of the unfortunate outcomes of this election is Congressman Kevin McCarthy, a devout member of Kern Schools FCU, will miss the opportunity to serve as Speaker of the House.
Harold Roundtree, president and CEO of $438 million-asset UNCLE CU, Livermore, Calif.
When we look back, we will realize we had a pretty good regulatory situation since 2016. I worry about gridlock with the Democrats in control of the House and Republicans in control of the Senate. The economy has had a good, long run, and I hope from now until 2020 it remains the same.
Community banks that were pushed past key asset limits by the Paycheck Protection Program say they will be unable to shrink their balance sheets back to normal size by the 2022 deadline, especially if there is a new round of rescue aid.
The plan still lacks concrete details about standards banks must meet to earn high ratings, but the agency said the new methodology would end grade inflation and could penalize banks that underperform.