RICHMOND, Va. (3/17/10)--A bill giving Virginia state-chartered credit unions the ability to convert to mutual savings banks if they choose was passed by the state’s general assembly last week. Under the bill, state credit unions have the same powers as federal credit unions. House Bill 482 and Senate Bill 440 passed both state chambers unanimously (Capital News Service March 15). The Virginia Credit Union League worked to turn the legislation into a charter-choice bill from an acquisition bill. The original version of the bill was drafted by bankers. The league’s and credit unions’ efforts resulted in a compromise bill, which was a substitute bill that the league drafted. “Obviously, we’re pleased with the final version of this legislation and we believe it represents a victory for the member-owners of Virginia’s credit unions,” said Virginia League President Rick Pillow. “We viewed the original version of this legislation as nothing less than an acquisition bill, designed to give for-profit banks the authority to buy up not-for-profit credit unions, without providing adequate safeguards for member-owners. “The original language would have put for-profit banks in the driver's seat; the substitute bill we drafted, and which passed the legislature, puts charter choice firmly in the hands of credit union member-owners, where it belongs,” he said.