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Dakotas, New York CU Reps Finish Off Fall Hike Schedule
WASHINGTON (11/12/13)--A strong fall season of Hike the Hill credit union advocacy was wrapped up last week as a twelve-member delegation from North and South Dakota brought the credit union message to Capitol Hill. This fall's Hike the Hill schedule included visits from credit union representatives from 32 states.

The North and South Dakota credit union delegation poses in front of CPB headquarters in Washington. The group, in no particular order, included Robbie Thompson, Credit Union Association of the Dakotas (CUAD); Roger Heacock, Black Hills FCU; Floyd Rummel III, Northern Hills FCU; Amy Klienshcmit, CUAD; Steve Schmitz, First Community CU; Janet Mount, Vermillion FCU; Marty Willms, Minute Man Community FCU; Mary Connick, Minute Man Community FCU; Tyler Neether, Town & Country CU; Julie Thompson, Ft. Randall FCU; Melanie Stillwell, Western Cooperative CU, and Jeff Olson, CUAD.           (CUAD Photo)
The Credit Union Association of the Dakotas met with Sens. John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) and John Thune (R-S.D.) and the credit union advocates focused on three vital issues: Preserving the credit union tax status, reforming privacy notification regulations, and maintaining credit union access to the secondary mortgage markets as policymakers work for housing finance system reforms.

CUAD reported that credit unions' 'Don't Tax My Credit Union" efforts have had an impact, according to those lawmakers they met with: Many referenced the volume of credit union contacts their district offices continue to receive from Dakota credit union members.

The Dakotas group also were present when Credit Union National Association Chief Economist Bill Hampel testified before the Senate Banking Committee hearing on housing finance reform, and also later visited that committee's chairman, Sen. Tim Johnson (D-S.D.).

Click to view larger image The Credit Union Association of New York (CUANY) poses with Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.) (second from right) in front of his office on Capitol Hill. The New York group included Allison Barna, Michael Lanotte, and RJ Tamburri, all of CUANY; Stephanie Carl, Corning FCU; Cara Carlevatti, Great Erie FCU; Kate Czarnecki, FocalPoint FCU; Angela Hitchcock, Sidney FCU; Aimee Johnson, Oswego County FCU; Meghan McGee-Pelkey, UFirst FCU; Cristina Morrissiey, AmeriCU Credit Union; David Roy, Buffalo Metropolitan FCU; and Christin Vincent, The Summit FCU.
The Credit Union Association of New York (CUANY) also came to Washington for one of CUNA's and the state leagues' final Hike the Hill events of the year. That group took a novel approach to their advocacy efforts: CUANY representatives were accompanied by ten young credit union professionals, many of whom were attending their first meetings on Capitol Hill.

The young credit union employees, who are members of CUANY's Young Professional Commission (YPC), helped deliver more than 13,000 Don't Tax My Credit Union postcards to the offices of Sens. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.).

"I think the senators' staff members were really surprised with our proactive approach," Angela Hitchcock, loan officer at Sidney FCU, Bainbridge, N.Y., told CUANY's The Point. "They weren't expecting all those postcards, and they seemed pleased with how we were bringing awareness to our members," she added.

Member business lending and supplemental capital were also addressed during meetings with legislators and their staff. YPC Chair Aimee Johnson, who is vice president of lending at Oswego County FCU, Oswego, N.Y., said the credit union group "explained it in clear terms and gave real examples of how not having additional capital has hindered our credit unions."

The New York advocates met with representatives or staff from one-third of their congressional delegation, and the CUANY said many lawmakers expressed support for the credit union tax status.

"These visits created new personal relationships between our young credit union professionals and our federal legislators," Mike Lanotte, CUANY senior vice president/general counsel, said. "It also gave us the opportunity to discuss our legislative priorities and thank our cosponsors while strengthening our case with those yet to take that step."

The key credit union issues were also brought to lawmakers attention by credit union advocates from Arizona, Colorado, Indiana, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Wyoming in the final weeks of this year's Hike the Hill schedule.


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