TOPEKA, Kan. (2/26/08)--Kansas credit union supporters answered the last questions of a Senate subcommittee Friday in response to SB 535, a bill introduced by the Kansas Banking Association (KBA) that would change how credit unions are regulated and whom they can serve. The subcommittee will begin work on the bill Wednesday. The bill or a modified bill would then proceed to the full Senate Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee for consideration, said the Kansas Credit Union Association (KCUA). In a press release, KCUA said it could only speculate about the specific impacts the banker-backed bill will have on the state's credit union industry but added the bill is clearly directed at reducing consumer access to Kansas credit unions. "At this time, the process is in full swing, and we have placed our faith in the legislative process in Kansas," said Jerel Wright, assistant vice president of governmental and public affairs at KCUA. "We are asking that legislators make the right decision for credit unions and consumers in Kansas." If the bill were passed without revisions, it would fundamentally change the way Kansas credit unions have operated and been regulated over the past 80 years. It also would dramatically increase the regulatory burden placed on state-chartered credit unions by requiring extensive public notification and appeals processes for branching, merging and field of membership changes, said KCUA. "In effect, this bill would effectively eliminate the benefits of being a Kansas-chartered credit union because the bill adopts federal law regarding field of membership and state banking law for branching and mergers," said KCUA. "This is truly a consumer issue, and consumers should have the right to choose where they conduct their financial business," said Marla Marsh, president/CEO of KCUA. "When consumers are facing an economic and credit crisis, would we want to restrict or constrict access to a consumer-friendly alternative?" Marsh asked.