Utah Bankers See Positives In Anti-CU Resolution

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Utah bankers acknowledge there is little chance Congress will act on the non-binding anti-credit union resolution the state legislature sent to Washington last week, but they see it as a start of a national debate on the issues they have been fighting for the past decade.

While the broad resolution discusses issues like field of membership, the structure and authority of NCUA, the delineation between small and large credit unions, the main focus of the resolution and the decade-long bank efforts is clear: the credit union tax exemption.

Howard Headlee, president of the Utah Bankers Association, insisted that the resolution wasn't sponsored by the banking lobby, but by independent lawmakers. He tried to portray the anti-credit union fight as broad-based and not financed by the banking lobby. But the evidence disputes that, as supporters of the state's largest local bank, Zions Bank, have been front and center in the anti-credit union crusade. At the peak of the fight two years ago when lawmakers considered taxing state-chartered credit unions, Zions staged a statehouse rally for its employees to lobby legislators. I was there.

Headlee conceded what Utah's own Sen. Robert Bennett told The Credit Union Journal-that Congress has little appetite to weigh in on the bank-credit union war and is not likely to act on the Utah resolution. But the chief of the Utah bankers expressed satisfaction that the resolution will now be sent to Congress and could spur new debate. "Whether it's on the agenda this year, or next year, or years afterwards, someday this will be on the agenda. This will become an issue," Headlee asserted. "All Sen. Bennett said is this is not on the agenda this year and it may not be on the agenda for years to come."

But Headlee was confident the time will come for the bankers somewhere down the road. "We're the tortoise; they're (credit unions) the hare. We're going to continue to educate and push this issue," he insisted.

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