In Minnesota, A GREAT Idea Is Emphasized

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The Minnesota Credit Union Network's 2004 Credit Union Day at the Capitol drew nearly 200 credit union representatives to the capital here. The event was themed, "Credit Unions: Giving Back to Your Community."

Kevin Chandler, Network President & CEO, stressed to attendees that while it may be intimidating for first-time attendees to get involved in political activism, it is vital to the credit union movement.

"It is incredibly important that each and every one of you is here," Chandler said. "At times, your legislators may be preoccupied or thinking about other issues. It may happen that your meetings have to be cut short. But don't take it personally. I guarantee you that your legislators are listening and that your message is getting through loud and clear."

Chandler also plugged GREAT, the Network's GrassRoots Education & Action Team, and stressed the importance of grassroots involvement.

Minnesota Attorney General Mike Hatch was the keynote speaker at the CU Day luncheon. He talked about various national problems and their effects in Minnesota, including college students' access to credit cards and predatory lending issues like equity stripping and mortgage flipping.

"With all the issues and problems with lending and credit cards these days, there has never been a more important time for credit unions," Hatch said, adding that he is "not aware of any credit unions engaged in such activities."

He also touched on privacy laws, identity theft, and encouraged attendees to become more involved with their communities.

Dan McElroy, Gov. Tim Pawlenty's Chief of Staff, addressed the crowd to kick off the afternoon program. He thanked attendees for coming and spoke about the budget, this year's bonding bill, and the importance of competition in the financial marketplace.

A three-person legislative panel rounded out the evening, featuring Rep. Joe Atkins (D-Inver Grove Heights), Rep. Jim Knoblach (R-St. Cloud) and Sen. David Knutson (R-Burnsville). The legislators held a lively debate over the state's budget and the deficit, and echoed McElroy's comments on the importance of competition.

"I genuinely support what credit unions do," Rep. Atkins said. "It's good for the banks and for the people of Minnesota to have a choice."

Rep. Knoblach and Sen. Knutson were of the same opinion, and Rep. Knutson called it "the one issue on which the entire panel would agree."

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