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N.Y. legislature passes FOM improvements bill

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ALBANY, N.Y. (6/23/14)--The New York Senate passed legislation last week that would allow state-chartered credit unions to further diversify their fields of membership.
 
The legislation would allow state-chartered credit unions to apply for the ability to combine select employer groups, associational and community groups into a single field of membership.
 
The state Assembly version of the bill was passed earlier in the week. The legislation is now ready to be delivered to Gov. Andrew Cuomo to be signed into law.
 
"We modeled the legislation after a handful of other states that have similar laws for state charters," Michael Lanotte, Credit Union Association of New York (CUANY) senior vice president/general counsel told News Now . "Those states have pretty high percentages of credit unions with state charters, so we believe this legislation will make the state charter a more attractive choice for our credit unions."

CUANY has strongly advocated for the legislation, which was passed during the last day of the legislative session. The league has worked closely with the governor's office and top lawmakers to address certain language revisions requested by Cuomo.

CU System briefs (06/23/2014)

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  • WASHINGTON (6/23/14)-- Just hours after Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) (left in photo) learned of his success in securing an important House leadership position last week, John Magill (right), of the Credit Union National Association, offered the new House majority leader CUNA's congratulations on the victory. Magill, who is CUNA executive vice president of government affairs, notes that McCarthy is "well-respected, and well-liked among his colleagues, and his door is open to credit unions for our views." McCarthy has addressed CUNA's premier Governmental Affairs Conference numerous times and when he did so in 2014 he called credit unions "a symbol of free enterprise, low risk and upward mobility." He also expressed concerns that regulations are hindering the not-for-profit institutions.  McCarthy also noted the key role that credit unions have played in his life: When he attended junior college, he took out a loan from Kern Schools FCU, Bakersfield, Calif. He added that he'd never had made it to the position of majority whip, his leadership position at that time, if he didn't belong to a credit union ...
  • DES MOINES, Iowa (6/23/14)-- The Iowa Credit Union Foundation (ICUF) raised more than $12,000 at its 2014 Annual Golf Classic Fundraiser. The funds will help ensure that ICUF is able to reach more low-income families in Iowa. "Thanks to our generous sponsors and donors, the Iowa Credit Union Foundation is able to offer a variety of programs that help Iowans build wealth, responsibility and independence," said Jaimie Miller, ICUF executive director.  Founded in 1995 as the philanthropic arm of the Iowa Credit Union League, ICUF's primary focus is to eliminate poverty in the state of Iowa ...
  • COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (6/23/14)-- Charles Emmer, CEO of Colorado Springs, Colo.-based Ent FCU, will retire in October after 18 years at the helm of the $3.9 billion-asset credit union ( The Gazette June 20). Randy Bernstein, who has served as Ent's president and chief operating officer since 2011, will succeed Emmer as CEO and continue as president ...

Thrivent Financial members proclaim CU difference on Facebook

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MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. (6/23/14)--While some credit union marketing specialists debate the best way to engage with members online, one credit union affiliate appears to have struck gold with a simple question.
 
Thrivent Financial, a faith-based fraternal benefit society, received almost 70 overwhelmingly positive comments about credit unions when it asked people who "like" it on Facebook: "Are you a member of a credit union? Why?"

"Better service and lower fees than a bank," replied on commenter, Gunner Cumming. 
 
"Credit Unions all the way... 1) more personable 2) lower rates and fees/if any 3) great service 4) shared branching which gives me 5000 branches nationwide," wrote Karla Matthess Roman.
 
"I like the credit unions for a number of reasons. They don't have as many fees, membership has a voice in things, higher rates on accounts," said Elizabeth Collins Stewart.
 
"I had bad experience with Bank of America . Twice," wrote Bobbie Krumm. "I won't trust them with my money. My company had a credit union and I joined. Love them. They are so nice and easy. Always willing to help."
 
Tracy Helling remarked that "free ATM is awesome and I got a truck loan I never thought I would get! Awesome."
 
Thrivent Financial then directed those it had engaged with to its "friends over at Thrivent Federal Credit Union." 
 
"I will visit your website," said James M. Edwards Jr., a commenter who had previously asked if Thrivent FCU was for everyone.
 
Thrivent FCU is based in Appleton, Wisc. It was chartered in 2012 with about $500 million in assets from the deposits and liabilities of Thrivent Financial for Lutherans.

Young & Free Maine campaign gains traction with media

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WESTBROOK, Maine (6/23/14)--Whoever wins the honor of serving as the next Young and Free Maine Spokester will already have clocked valuable speaking engagement time, as each of the three finalists made several appearances on Maine's radio airwaves last week ( Weekly Update June 20).

The finalists, who are competing to represent the 18-to-25 demographic within the credit union movement in Maine for one year as the official "spokester," appeared on two radio stations in the Portland, Maine-area and one station in the Augusta/Waterville-area.

Each answered questions about their experiences, background and what sets them apart from the other candidates.

"We are covering the state with interviews, creating a lot of awareness and excitement and driving significant traffic to the website as voting has been strong since it started," said Debra Trautman, Maine Credit Union League vice president of corporate marketing. "It's also a great way to build awareness for Young & Free Maine and, of course, Maine credit unions."

Jon Paradise, league vice president of governmental affairs, joined the finalists for their interviews and also took the opportunity to speak about the benefits of credit unions for 18 to 25-year-olds.

Young & Free, a campaign launched in 2007 by Canadian marketing firm Currency Marketing, builds a social media and product promotion campaign around a Gen Y 'spokester,' who's role is to create a credit union buzz through these various types of media. 

The finalists for Maine Spokester position are: Alexis Albert, 24, from Old Orchard; Andrew Soucy, 20, from Biddeford; and Mallory Lavoie, 24, from Orono.

With voting entering its final few days this week, the finalists will participate in several more radio interviews throughout the state. Voting ends Friday at 3 p.m.  (ET) and the winner will be announced Friday evening.

To see the challenge videos and blogs submitted by the three finalists, or to vote, use the resource link.

Gov. Corbett signs update to Pa. state CU code

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (6/23/14)--Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett last week signed an update to the state credit union code.

House Bill 2009 was sponsored by Rep. Linda Schlegel Culver (R-Sunbury).

The legislation clarifies the ability of a credit union's membership to amend, or appeal a board initiated bylaw amendment. Credit unions will no longer need to submit a petition obtained from the Department of Banking and Securities when a credit union amends or appeals its bylaws.

Also under the bill, inactive accounts would reflect the Pennsylvania Treasury escheat to five years from six years.

The legislation would give credit unions the ability to correspond with their memberships by fax, email or other electronic communication after obtaining member consent.

Credit unions could collect fees paid to outside collectors for other share or loan service-related amounts owed to the credit union as well. In addition, credit unions could recoup the actual sums they expend.

Pearl Harbor FCU shields victims from predatory lenders

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HONOLULU (6/23/14)--Pearl Harbor FCU, Waipahu, Hawaii, with $341 million in assets, has launched a program that offers members an alternative to predatory payday loans.
 
Called the Smart Advance, the program offers short-term loans to members without forcing them to navigate the traditional application process, all with an interest rate substantially lower than what payday lenders tag people with ( Hawaii Reporter June 19).
 
"Our goal is to help our communities with products and services that will empower them financially," Neal S. Takase, Pearl Harbor president/CEO told the Hawaii Reporter . "Many individuals in our state, unfortunately, have experienced the negative consequences of a payday lending cycle. With products like the Smart Advance, we can assist and hopefully prevent members from becoming victims of financial abuse."
 
The advantages of using Pearl Harbor's program include: receiving longer repayment terms, having access to small-dollar amounts, receiving fast approval and securing manageable rates and fees.
 
The NCUA's short-term, small-amount loan program permits federal credit unions to charge an interest rate that is a maximum of 10 percentage points above the established usury ceiling at that time. Currently, this amounts to an interest rate ceiling of 28%.
 
Pearl Harbor also offers a discounted 18% rate as well.
 
On average, those who borrow from storefront, predatory payday lenders are given two weeks, or until the next payday, to pay back the entire loan, which typically pack interest rates of about 400%, according to a study by Pew Charitable Trusts. 
 
The upfront cash allows the consumer to pay off bills on short notice, but the untenable terms often leave the borrower indebted for months--forcing them to roll over the loans repeatedly.
 
When accounting for the fees and the finance charges, paying off the payday loan becomes very difficult, if not impossible, said Glen Fukunaga, Pearl Harbor vice president of lending. The Smart Advance is a better, more affordable alternative than a traditional payday loan.

CUAD names N.D. Dora Maxwell Award honorees

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BISMARCK, N.D. (6/23/14)--North Dakota credit unions recently received high honors at the state level in the Dora Maxwell Social Responsibility Awards program.

The awards were presented at the Credit Union Association of the Dakotas Annual Summit held at the Sioux Falls Convention Center in Sioux Falls, S.D., June 4-6. 

The Dora Maxwell Awards for Social Responsibility Award signifies a commitment to volunteering time, energy, and resources to boost the living standards of others.

 Award winners included:
  • $5 million to $20 million in assets: Postal Family FCU, Fargo, with $20 million in assets;
  • $50 million to $100 million in assets: Railway CU, Mandan, with $88 million in assets;
  • $100 million to $200 million in assets: Citizens Community CU, Devils Lake, with $151 million in assets; and
  • $200 million to $500 million in assets: First Community CU, Jamestown, with $491 million in assets.
The award is named for Dora Maxwell, a credit union pioneer who worked to improve the living standards of the underserved. Maxwell was an original signer of the Credit Union National Association's constitution, and an organizer of hundreds of credit unions and volunteer clubs in the U.S.

The winners will move on to CUNA's national award competition. National winners are honored at the 2015 CUNA Governmental Affairs Conference in Washington, D.C.