Maine bankers have opened a new front in their war against credit unions: the state Legislature.
The Maine Bankers Association has started pushing drafts of two bills intended to stymie credit union growth.
One seeks to tighten the definition of the common bond uniting credit union members; the other would require the state's Bureau of Banking to weigh whether an expansion would have a negative tax revenue impact on a community.
The action in the state capital of Augusta represents bankers' frustration with the policies of Maine Banking Superintendent H. Donald DeMatteis, who has regularly granted credit union expansions, said Mike Walker, assistant director and counsel for the bankers association.
"The superintendent has had very liberal policies in letting credit unions expand," Mr. Walker said.
Mr. Walker said bankers stand a better chance to rein in credit unions in the Legislature. The two proposals have good odds because "we're not proposing the more dramatic position of taxing credit unions," he said.
This is only the latest skirmish on one of the hottest battlefields between credit unions and bankers.
On Jan. 27 the Superior Court of Kennebec County rejected an effort by the association to block Orono-based University of Maine Credit Union from adding an employee group.
The bankers filed suit on Nov. 3, asking the court to overturn Mr. DeMatteis' approval of the expansion.
The court threw it out for lack of standing because no bank could demonstrate injury due to the expansion, Mr. Walker said.
Still in the Kennebec County court is the association's challenge to the regulator's decision to let Saco Valley Credit Union add 10 communities to its membership base. Oral arguments in that case, filed in September, are expected to be scheduled in several weeks.