Louisiana Latest State In Which Bank Rattles Sabers

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The Louisiana Credit Union League is keeping a close watch on the Louisiana Bankers Association (LBA) after the bank trade group listed "credit union competition" as a primary issue for banks in the state.

While the league indicated that credit unions have always had a good working relationship with the banks in Louisiana, the fact that the LBA put fighting words with respect to credit union taxation on the front page of one of its recent publications may indicate a change.

"It certainly caught our eye," said Connie Major, vice president-government affairs and public relations at the Louisiana Credit Union League. "We have had a good working relationship with the LBA, but that has caused us to look with a keener eye at what they are doing. It's definitely on the radar screen, especially with all the other taxation issues in other states."

The brief article in the LBA publication argued that "one of the major issues facing the banking industry today, and a major topic of conversation in our regional meetings, is credit union competition. In a recent meeting with ABA President Aubrey Patterson of BancorpSouth-whose bank is also a LBA member-he described credit unions as tax-exempt, lightly regulated banks. That's a fitting description of how many Louisiana credit unions are operating, and we need to call them what they really are."

The article continues to say that many credit unions are "are doing just about everything tax paying, heavily regulated banks do," and then says it's time for banks to take a stand.

"Do we let credit unions continue to use their tax subsidy to take business away from banks? Or do we stand up and fight for fair competition," the article continues. "In our regional meetings, LBA members are telling us this is a fight worth waging. Credit union competition will be at the top of the agenda at the next meeting of the LBA board of directors."

Even so, Louisiana Credit Union League was hopeful that this saber-rattling wouldn't necessarily be the shape of the things to come in Louisiana.

"Banks are always talking about credit unions," Major suggested. "Our CEO has an annual meeting with their CEO, and we will try to meet with them (soon)."

But that doesn't mean the league doesn't recognize a potential call to arms when it hears it.

"Our antennae are definitely up, and there definitely is a degree of cause to be laying the groundwork now," she told The Credit Union Journal. "Before this, I would have rated our state as being on the low end of the scale in terms of bank battles ow, we'll just have to keep watch."

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