Letter to all members of the Senate and House regarding the Renaissance Commission
Printable Copy Here (pdf file)
June 22, 2001
As the largest trade group representing federal and state-chartered credit unions, the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) has begun the task of addressing concerns that have been voiced by the credit union system regarding impediments to credit unions' ability to serve their 80 million members more effectively.
Credit unions provide services that are crucial to American consumers, and have been required to respond to changes in the U.S. economy that no one as recently as 20 years ago could have predicted. Yet, credit unions have faced these changes and remained safe and fiscally sound while being forced to operate within a regulatory scheme that is more than 70 years old.
Unlike other financial institutions that have been granted extensive regulatory relief and statutory modernization, credit unions continue to be constrained by the most stringent regulations in the industry. This fact remains true even when considering the legislative victory credit unions achieved in 1998 with the passage of the Credit Union Membership Access Act. While this Act restored the ability of credit unions to serve multiple groups, it did not ensure that credit unions could remain up-to-date and vital members of the financial services industry. In fact, the new law imposed additional constraints that affect the ability of credit unions to fully serve their members. This point was made clear in a recent Treasury Department study titled Comparing Credit Unions with Other Depository Institutions that found, "In general, federal credit unions have more limited powers than national banks and federal savings associations."
With these points in mind, credit unions last year empowered CUNA to create a commission to investigate ways to ensure the continued viability of the federal and state credit union charters. This body is known as the Renaissance Commission, and is comprised of a cross- section of credit union leaders from across the country. Over the last year it has embarked on the most comprehensive inventory of credit unions' future ever taken. This has been a careful, thoughtful and inclusive process with input from numerous focus groups and nationwide polls, the results of which have been communicated during the many hearings held across the country.
The Commission has completed the information gathering process and has delivered a set of vision statement recommendations (enclosed) to CUNA's Board of Directors. The recommendations outline the Commission's views of policies and principles CUNA should pursue to ensure the long-term viability and relevance of the credit union system. The Board is now reviewing the information and will determine what legislative or regulatory changes, if any, we should pursue. CUNA plans to complete this second phase by the fall of this year.
We expect the remainder of the Renaissance process to be a deliberative one. It has taken more than 70 years for credit unions to progress to where they are today, and CUNA is well aware that modifications to appropriate statutes and regulations will not occur overnight.
We hope to have an open dialogue with Congress as we continue this process, and we look forward to working closely with you on these issues.
If you have any questions about the Renaissance Commission process please feel free to contact me.
Daniel A. Mica
President & CEO