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A closer look: Leagues were busy in statehouses in 2012
WASHINGTON (1/10/13)--'Gridlock' may have been the descriptor most often applied to legislative action on a federal level in 2012, but on a state level more than 29,000 bills--on issues across the board--were enacted by legislatures, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. That was out of almost 86,000 bills introduced nationally.

Credit Union National Association's (CUNA) State Government Affairs tracked over 800 bills during the 2012 state legislative session to monitor potential impact on credit unions. This information was used by the state credit union leagues to advocate on behalf of credit unions in statehouses across the nation.

"Everything from state credit union acts to charitable giving to merger rules were in play in different states," noted Richard Dines, CUNA's senior state and league affairs director,  describing state actions. "CUNA and the state leagues advocated for credit-union friendly policy on all fronts."

The leagues were also nimble and persistent in their work to refute state bank associations' 2012 campaigns to challenge the tax treatment of credit unions. These attacks were seen in ad campaigns and other communications to legislators and the public in Illinois, Minnesota, Oregon, South Dakota, and Washington, and more are anticipated in 2013 as federal lawmakers work to revise the country's tax laws.   

Leagues were able to counter these attacks and stop them from gaining traction, and are prepared for more battles in the year ahead. 

Among other state legislative successes:

  • The leagues sought and won updates to their state credit union acts in California, Illinois, Kansas, Wisconsin, Arizona, and Rhode Island;
  • A new California law allows credit unions to provide lifeline services to non-members within a credit union's field of membership, including negotiable checks, money orders, and other similar money transfer instruments;
  • Updates to Illinois law clarified provisions on mergers, board authority, and membership;
  • In Kansas, updated provisions included changes to credit committee appointments, the loan approval process, and suspension of credit union officials and members;
  • Wisconsin law loosened restrictions on the amount of charitable donations that credit unions can make each year;
  • In Arizona, state-chartered credit unions now have parity with federally chartered credit unions with respect to the rules on converting to a savings and loan association; and
  • Legislation passed in Rhode Island gives state-chartered credit unions federal parity in the area of participation loans.
In 2012, states continued to debate legislation to reform their mortgage foreclosure laws, with a couple states passing laws in this area. California enacted new legislation that substantially changed its foreclosure law, but has a limited effect on credit unions since most provisions of the enacted legislation only apply to mortgage servicers that have more than 175 foreclosures per year.  

Illinois passed a fast-track foreclosure law that reduces the foreclosure process from about two years to about six months. 

The Illinois Credit Union League's instrumental efforts to get this bill pass are particularly notable because it may become a nationwide model for addressing the issue of vacant and residential properties in foreclosure.

News Now is featuring an in-depth look at each area of CUNA's 2013 priorities. This article is the third in that series. The first unveiled CUNA's legislative priorities; the second discussed regulatory goals.

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