LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (2/24/14)--Even if there aren't pressing issues at the state legislative level, credit unions need to engage with lawmakers. "We need to get to know them when we don't need anything from them," advised Reta Kahley, president of the Arkansas Credit Union Association, a division of the Cornerstone Credit Union League.
"That way when an issue does arise, and we need their support--we have already established that relationship," Kahley told the Cornerstone Credit Union League.
About 20 delegates represented more than a dozen credit unions during the Feb. 12 legislative lunch at the Arkansas capital. About 100 lawmakers attended the informal gathering. "Our lawmakers appreciate that," she said, adding, "In fact, they hold our format as the standard for other associations to emulate."
Because this session is centered on the budget, there were no credit union issues in play. Instead, the conversations focused on how credit unions make a difference in their members' lives and the positive impact they have on communities, Kahley added.
One state legislator did ask how the Dodd-Frank act is affecting credit unions, and Kahley offered up the league as a resource if he wanted more information.
"I'm certain that our lawmakers appreciate our credit unions for being there and being open to conversation," she said. "I, for one, am very appreciative that our credit unions recognize the value in engaging with legislators and sharing our story.
"If we want to influence legislation, we have to have a presence," Kahley said.
In Washington, D.C., this week, the presence is huge because thousands of credit union advocates at attending the Credit Union National Association's Governmental Affairs Conference--building relationships with representatives and senators.