For Utah Officials, Education In A Box

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Both the Utah League of Credit Unions and the Utah Bankers Association are saying they don't plan to try to introduce bills in the state legislature related to field of membership or taxation. But the league has stepped up its education efforts, delivering an eye-catching box to legislators that details why CUs deserve their tax exemption.

When a legislator opens the box, the first thing he'll see is the message, "Did you know a tax on Utah's credit unions is a tax on your consituents?" across the inside top cover. Inside, a pamphlet outlines the CU charter and philosophy and explains why credit unions are tax exempt. Additionally, there's a copy of the ad the league ran in local newspapers in November in response to a series of ads run by the Resolution Alliance for Strong Banks and Credit Unions, a "neutral third party" that is entirely funded by the banks.

Also inside is a videotape with a television ad ULCU had been running about why CUs shouldn't be taxed, as well as photocopies of local news stories about credit unions.

"This is really a slick piece," said ULCU's Stephen Nelson, who wasn't sure what the league spent on the CU information box. "We think it's a good piece, and whatever the cost, it's worth it. Legislators are bombarded every day, you have to find a way to make your message stand out."

Although credit unions in the state are still unhappy with the FOM legislation that was passed several years ago-and ULCU CEO Scott Earl vowed at the time that CUs would eventually fight for a fairer shake-the league has no plans to introduce any FOM-related legislation in the next session, which is slated to begin Jan. 20.

Earl told The Credit Union Journal in an earlier interview that word on the street was that the bankers intended to introduce legislation inimical to credit unions, but since then, UBA CEO Howard Headlee has been quoted in local reports as saying his organization has no such plans.

Similarly, the Resolution Alliance has also said it doesn't intend to offer up any CU-related legislation, either.

Nevertheless, if the CU information box is any indication, the league is gearing up for anything that could come out of the 2003 legislative session.

"This is about educating our lawmakers," Nelson suggested. "It's a long-term process to educate people about credit unions."

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