What Will You Say, and Will Congress Listen?

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WASHINGTON-Before delegates at the 2011 CUNA Governmental Affairs Conference headed to Capitol Hill to speak with legislators, Credit Union Journal asked CEOs what they would be speaking with elected officials about-and if they believe the country's leaders will pay attention.

Joe McGee, CEO, Legacy Community FCU, Birmingham, Ala.
First and foremost we will discuss preserving credit unions' tax-exempt status. It is usually our lead story with legislators each year. Often our congressmen ask us if that really is an issue for us, and we tell that there is always someone out there who would like to take our tax exemption away from us. This year we will also be talking about the interchange provisions to the Dodd-Frank bill. We will be asking representatives to take a harder look at that to study its true ramifications and make modifications. I understand our elected officials are under a great deal of pressure from other groups to get things done, but they will take time to listen to us, they do every year. I am not sure, however, if they will be effective in meeting our requests.

Ron Summerall, CEO, Alabama Teachers CU, Gadsden, Ala.
Tax exemption continues to be at the forefront. Our focus here has gone away somewhat in the last few years. But the government's push on generating additional revenue has pushed the topic once again to the front burner. Our credit union is involved in business lending, so we'd like to see the MBL cap raised, and that will be discussed.

Bob Schumacher, CEO, Mountain Crest CU, Arlington, Wash.
The biggest issue to discuss is obviously interchange. We know Congressman Rick Larsen (D-WA) will listen. We already had a phone call with him during which several banks were on the line as well, including the head of the Washington State Bankers Association. We are hopeful that the congressman will make our voices heard in D.C.

Gary Oakland, CEO, BECU, Tukwila, Wash.
Certainly supplemental capital is an issue coming forward from safety and soundness and equity standpoints. We will also discuss the unintended consequences of Dodd-Frank. Sure there are overpayments that some financial institutions are receiving on the debit side, but certainly, as we all know, not to the extent to justify the limits the Fed is proposing, and we will be another credit union to point that out.

John Rupert, CEO, Muskegon Co-op FCU, Muskegon, Mich.
We will be meeting with out legislature about interchange. Our chapter spoke with Representative Bill Huizenga (R-MI)) a few weeks ago in district and he seems open to listening to us and supporting us. We are hoping to get a delay in the implementation of the new rules to give us some breathing room, have the amendment examined, and hopefully reworked.

Jim Barbarich, CEO, M-C FCU Danville, Penn.
Tom Marino (R-PA) is a freshman congressman, and a friend of credit unions. I met with him [recently] and explained that credit unions are part of the solution-not asking for things that don't make sense. But what does make sense is having Congress call a time-out and take a critical look at debit interchange, and I will talk about that with him here in Washington. Another issue to discuss is the regulatory environment and what it is doing to credit unions-how it is affecting our cost structure and ability to deliver affordable services to members. I think Tom will be open to listening to us.

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