Clarity Exactly What New Law Is Missing
We in Wisconsin indeed worked to get a credit union-to-stock bank direct conversion provision removed from our state budget bill, and were disappointed by Gov. Scott Walker's failure to veto it when it arrived at his desk.
In his July 18 letter, Charles Bruen of First Entertainment CU, Hollywood, Calif., opines that credit union trade associations in every state should draft a realistic charter conversion bill the way they think it should be written and then proactively lobby to get it approved. We've decided in Wisconsin that is not a good strategy for us; other states may decide otherwise.
But then he goes on to say that "every state-chartered credit union deserves the clarity that a conversion law like Wisconsin's puts on the table." He's right that Wisconsin's new law is clear. It clearly permits a conversion without any safeguards to ensure that that members will have the necessary information to cast a knowing vote. It clearly permits the buying of votes. It clearly makes it easier for outside interests to turn the equity of Wisconsin's 2.2 million credit union members into additional riches for a few bank shareholders.
In Wisconsin, no credit union requested the conversion bill, even though the change is to the credit union statute. The provision was added to the budget bill at the last minute, with no notice to any credit union, credit union member or the Wisconsin League-so there was no opportunity for a public hearing at which credit unions could express their opinion about it. Indeed, it was introduced into the bill at the request of the Wisconsin Bankers Association, which has been very open about its goal of shutting down credit union competition.
Under these circumstances, the Wisconsin League had no choice but to fight the direct conversion bill tooth and nail. We owed that responsibility to our members and to their members.
Brett Thompson, President
Wisconsin CU League, Pewaukee