BOISE, Idaho (2/13/13)--Two U.S. lawmakers--one of them the ranking Republican member of the Senate Banking Committee--expressed support of credit unions' tax exemption last week during the Idaho Credit Union League's Governmental Affairs Conference.
Eighty-seven Idaho credit union professionals and volunteers gathered in Boise to meet with their state legislators about credit union issues and to learn more about the legislative process.
U.S. Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) and U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson (R-2) said they support maintaining the tax exemption for credit unions, Will Hall, Idaho league compliance and governmental affairs specialist, told News Now.
Crapo, the ranking Republican member of the Senate Banking Committee, urged credit unions to watch Congress regarding upcoming legislation and to be an active participant in the process. Simpson said Congress needs to make sure that all tax exemptions make sense for the 21st century and those that do should remain--that list should include the credit union tax exemption, Hall added.
Defending the credit union tax exemption is the Credit Union National Association's No. 1 priority this year, CUNA President/CEO Bill Cheney has said. Several credit union leagues such as those in Ohio and Oregon are monitoring tax reform proposals in their states.
The day-long event also included call-in visits with U.S. Sen. Jim Risch (R-Idaho), and U.S Rep. Raul Labrador's (R-1) Chief of Staff Jason Bohrer.
All the federal delegates at the league GAC said that bringing down the federal budget deficit is of primary importance, Hall said.
Risch and Bohrer said reducing the federal budget deficit should be the primary focus for everyone. Bohrer added that everything is on the table to get a handle on the federal budget deficit and to get it down, Hall reported.
Visits from state legislators, including Sen. Brent Hill (R-34), President Pro Tem, Rexburg; Sen. Elliot Werk (D-17), Boise; and Rep. John Rusche (D-6), Lewiston, gave credit union attendees a look at current issues in the state legislature this session from both sides of the aisle. Rusche also drew attention to the decline of household income and its long-term negative impact on the state. The state legislators did not discuss national credit union issues, Hall told News Now.
Political commentator Dr. Jim Weatherby gave an overview of the 2013 legislative session, and Republican Party Chairman Joshua Whitworth spoke on attracting new members to the party and staying relevant.
A visit from long-time friend of credit unions, Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter, was the highlight of the event as he talked of his personal relationship with credit unions in Idaho and their community of interest. News Now covered his comments Feb. 12.
"I've always appreciated that credit unions have a local focus, and they're attuned to the needs of their members," Otter said. "It's my goal to advocate for Idaho citizens in the same way. That's why it's so important for Idaho to have a voice in designing and implementing a state-based health insurance exchange" (News Now Feb. 12).
Gavin Gee, director of the Idaho Department of Finance, told attendees that Idaho credit unions are among the nation's healthiest in terms of asset growth and new members.