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NEW: Mich. Lawmakers Unanimously Support Tax Status

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LANSING, Mich. (9/10/13, UPDATED 10:50 a.m. CT)--U.S. Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) offered credit unions a powerful endorsement when he released a statement saying he supports credit unions as Congress begins negotiations for tax code reform. The announcement was made by the Michigan Credit Union League on #DontTaxTuesday.
With Amash's statement, every member of the Michigan congressional delegation has issued a statement that either directly supports the credit union tax exemption or expresses general support for the credit union industry.
"I'm not in favor of increasing taxes or imposing unnecessary regulations," Amash said. "Achieving solid economic growth and expanded opportunity for all Americans means reducing government's burdens on the institutions that serve them. Financial entities like credit unions provide important services like being reliable places to deposit money and helping individuals and families afford the necessities of life."
Michigan Credit Union League CEO David Adams thanked Amash for his support.
"This very strong statement from Congressman Amash reinforces the high level of bi-partisan support that credit unions and their members have within the Michigan congressional delegation," Adams said. "We now have unanimous support from all 14 members of the House delegation as well as from our two U.S. senators. The credit union community should let all Michigan lawmakers know how much we appreciate their support as broad-based tax reform continues with this Congress."
Adams thanked the Battle Creek Chapter for hosting a meeting with Amash at Kellogg Community FCU, Battle Creek.
"This kind of grassroots advocacy is responsible for the unanimous support from our delegation in Michigan," Adams said.
While all of the credit union movement's current federal legislative issues were discussed, credit union leaders spent most of the time discussing the importance of the credit union tax exemption and the challenges faced with the new regulatory requirements.
Representatives from Kellogg Community FCU; United Educational CU, Battle Creek; OMNI Community CU, Battle Creek; Marshall (Mich.) Community CU, and Lake Trust CU, Lansing, communicated the need to support the credit union tax exemption and regulatory relief. Sixteen credit union leaders participated in the discussion.

USA Today Highlights CUNA Women's Financial Survey

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MADISON, Wis. (9/10/13)--The Credit Union National Association's Women's Financial Survey scored another major media hit Monday when it was featured on the front page of the USA TODAY's Money section.
The Credit Union National Association's Financial Survey provided the source data for this USA Snapshot on the front page of Monday's USA TODAY's Money Section. (CUNA Photo)
The survey was the data source for the paper's USA Snapshot statistical graphical feature. The graphic featured the question, "Do you have enough savings to meet your expenses for six months?" About 52% of survey respondents answered 'Yes," and 48% answered , "No."
The Women's Financial Survey polled 1,042 via the Internet from a population of women nationally, with an even distribution of respondents born in each decade from 1920 to 1980.
Released last month, the survey found the No. 1 financial concern for women is saving for retirement (News Now Aug. 7).
Findings showed that women use 401(k)s (45.3%) and pension plans (35.8%) the most to save for retirement, while 40% of women reported owning multiple retirement plans.
The survey also found that 51.2% of women were not confident in their financial ability, despite the fact that 38% of the married female respondents manage their household finances exclusively and 46% co-manage their household finances. This was particularly true with the youngest demographic, those born from 1980-1993, where 59.1% lacked financial confidence.
The Women's Financial Survey was also featured Aug. 28 on in an article about women and emergency savings. The article said that roughly 59% of women age 45 to 60 don't have an emergency fund that would cover their expenses for even six months. To read the article use the link.
Also recently, CUNA's Women's Financial Survey led off a story Sunday on about "The One Thing You Shouldn't Do When Investing for Retirement."

Rep. DelBene Supports CU Structure

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FEDERAL WAY, Wash. (9/10/13)--Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-Wash.) offered a firm endorsement of credit unions last week, saying she  "strongly supports the not-for-profit, cooperative nature of credit unions and the services they provide to their members in the Northwest and across the country," the Northwest Credit Union Association reported.
DelBene made her statement of support for credit unions when she announced she will become the second member of the Washington delegation to co-sponsor the Credit Union Small Business Job Creation Act when Congress reconvenes this week (Anthem Sept. 5).
H.R. 688 would raise the cap on the amount of money credit unions can lend to small-business members. Currently, credit unions--many of whom were originally chartered to make business loans--can only lend up to 12.25%--of their assets to businesses. The bill would raise that cap to 27.5%, creating an estimated 140,000 new jobs nationally at no expense to taxpayers, according to the Credit Union National Association.
More than two dozen Northwest credit unions are managing close to the current cap, said Jennifer Wagner, NWCUA vice president for legislative advocacy. Others offer no business lending programs "because the start-up costs are significant and the 12.25% cap limits them enough to not make the investment worthwhile," she said.

Cal/Nev. Leagues Announces State CUNA Awards

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ONTARIO, Calif. (9/10/13)--The California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues recognized three credit unions with financial education awards.
The Golden 1 CU and Silver State Schools CU were honored with first-place state awards in the Louise Herring for Philosophy in Action Award program. Silver State and Mendo Lake CU received first-place honors in the state Desjardins Financial Education Awards. 
The Golden 1 CU, Sacramento, Calif., won a first-place Louise Herring Award in the $1 billion-plus asset category for its college scholarship program for credit union members and their dependents. In its first year, the credit union awarded amounts of $1,000, $2,500, and $5,000 in renewable scholarships (covering up to four years of college) to 33 students, for a total award amount of $320,000.
Las Vegas-based Silver State Schools received a first-place award in the $250 million to $1 billion asset category for its Piggy Bank Project, a collaborative effort between the credit union, Bracken Elementary School, The United Way of Southern Nevada, Young Philanthropist Society, Junior Achievement, and Andson Foundation. The project is a combination of an on-campus bank, financial literacy in the classroom, and student homework designed to include parents. In the first year, students saved more than $18,000.
The Piggy Bank Project also earned Silver State a first-place Desjardins Youth Financial Educational Award in the more-than-$500-million-asset category.
Mendo Lake CU in Ukiah, Calif. received a first-place Desjardins Youth Financial Educational Award in the $50 million to $150-million asset category for its National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE) financial curriculum and its Money Wise and Banzai programs.
The Banzai program, the newest component of MLCU's Community Financial Literacy Initiative, resulted in three classroom presentations and numerous teacher contacts made. MLCU has 183 students participating in the Money Wise program with a total of more than $22,500 in their savings accounts. In addition, MLCU's Harbor on Main partnership for the NEFE program earned the credit union an invitation to be a founding member of the Lake County Youth Coalition, whose goal is to provide access to resources focused on health, wellness and career opportunities for Lake County youth. 
Each awards program is administered at the state level by the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues, and nationally by the Credit Union National Association. Entries were submitted to the leagues and judged by a committee from the Mountain West Credit Union Association.
Each first-place winner's entry progresses to the Credit Union National Association's national award competition. The winners are honored at the 2014 CUNA Government Affairs Conference in Washington, D.C.

Minnesota CU Leader Honored With State Foundation Builder Award

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (9/10/13)--Jeff Schwalen, president/CEO of Hiway FCU in St. Paul, Minn., was recently honored with the Minnesota Credit Union Foundation Credit Union Builder Award. The distinction recognizes those who have dedicated time and energy to building the credit union movement, said the foundation.
Nominations for this award are made by credit unions and other organizations in honor of or in memory of a significant individual who has been instrumental in their success.
Schwalen served as Hiway's president/CEO for the past 10 years. During his tenure, the credit union experienced a steady rise in membership, assets grew by $350 million, and Hiway developed a reputation for offering innovative products and services to its members.
Active in the Minnesota credit union movement, Schwalen has served as a table officer and member of the Minnesota Credit Union Network board of directors from 2007 to 2013. He was also an active member and past chairman of MnCUN's Political Involvement Committee and CENCOPAN Partnership Steering Committee, a group active in international credit union development in Paraguay.
Schwalen has been a longtime proponent of Credit Unions for Kids, serving on Minnesota's steering committee and leading Hiway to becoming a fundraising force for Children's Miracle Network and the local Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare.
Schwalen, who will retire in October, joins 20 other individuals who have been honored during the past six years with the MnCUF's Credit Union Builder Award. The names of the recipients and the contributing credit unions are permanently displayed in the Minnesota Credit Union Network's lobby as a tribute to their accomplishments.

Three Minnesota CUs Recognized For Strengthening Communities

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (9/10/13)--Two Minnesota credit unions recently gave back to their communities, while another was recognized for its community-building efforts, the Minnesota Credit Union Network reported.  
Royal CU, based in Eau Claire, Wis., presented a $,6,000 donation to The Family Place, a day center for families living without permanent housing in St. Paul. The organization was chosen to receive a portion of the funds raised at RCU's Charity Classic race, held on June 29. More than 200 children participated in the half- and quarter-mile races, each receiving a participation award. The Sojourner House in Eau Claire, Wis. and Grace Place in St. Croix County, Wis., also each received $6,000 donations.
Hiway FCU, St. Paul, was officially proclaimed as a Yellow Ribbon Company by the Lt. Governor of Minnesota at a ceremony held at Camp Ripley near Little Falls, Minn. The Beyond the Yellow Ribbon Proclamation recognizes companies whose combined efforts in key areas support those affected by military deployments and enable successful transition into the workplace. 
The credit union's path to receiving the designation began when it merged with Ft. Snelling FCU in March of 2009, said Glen Durbahn, Hiway FCU's vice president of marketing and member relations.
"At that time, we opened our doors to thousands of new members who incorporate all branches of the military," Durbahn said. "It was our goal to partner with agencies and groups to help in the support of Minnesota's military personnel and their families."
USFCU sponsored myTalk 107.1 FM radio station's Back to School Drive benefitting The Caring Tree during July and August. The Caring Tree collects, purchases and distributes school supplies to students in need across the state of Minnesota.
During the three-week drive, community members and USFCU employees donated more than 500 school supply items, including backpacks, notebooks, folders and boxes of crayons. Monetary donations were also collected from community members, amounting in a donation of $166 to The Caring Tree. USFCU also presented The Caring Tree with a $500 donation during myTalk 107.1 radio station's live broadcast from USFCU's Burnsville branch.
"We had a lot of fun working with community members and myTalk to support The Caring Tree," said Bill Raker, US FCU president/CEO. "It's great to see how much of an impact we will have on students in need who are headed back to school this fall."
Fostering service excellence, removing barriers and raising awareness about the value credit unions provide their members and communities are the foundation for the Credit Union National Association's, state credit union leagues' and credit unions' Unite For Good campaign toward a vision in which Americans choose credit unions as their best financial provider.

Northwest, Kansas CUs Have Strong Second Quarter

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SEATAC, Wash., and WICHITA, Kan. (9/10/13)--Northwest and Kansas credit unions had strong second quarters, according to separate recent reports.
The 175 credit unions in Oregon and Washington did well, based on an analysis of the National Credit Union Administration's Financial Performance Reports, said the Northwest Credit Union Association (Anthem Sept. 3). 
Return on assets in the quarter remained strong, up 1.26% in Washington and 0.89% in Oregon. Delinquency rates continued their decline in Washington (0.70%) and Oregon (0.84%). Net worth was up 10.23% in Washington and 9.45% in Oregon.
For all of NWCUA's 175 credit unions in the second quarter, deposits were up 5%, membership increased 4%, and loan growth rose 4%.
Kansas state-chartered credit unions' assets climbed 5.47% to $4.87 billion in the quarter, compared with second quarter 2012, according to the Kansas Department of Credit Unions Quarterly Call Report Statistics (The Wichita Eagle Sept. 6). 
Also, credit union loans were up 6.65% from a year ago, totaling $3.18 billion, the report indicated.
Overall U.S. credit union membership growth is moving three times faster than U.S. population growth, according to the Credit Union National Association's monthly sample of credit unions for July. That report also reflects a continuation of strong, overall first-half-of-the-year results (News Now Sept. 4).
Total memberships expanded rapidly in July--increasing by 0.4% in the month and pushing them over the 98 million mark.

Washington CU Changes Name To Reflect Expansion

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BELLLINGHAM, Wash. (9/10/13)--To better reflect its connection with its community and to highlight community membership rules, GaPac Community FCU has changed its name to WestEdge CU. The new name was announced Aug. 24.  
The name change was made to better indicate that the credit union is open to anyone in Whatcom County, Wash. (The Bellingham Herald Sept. 8).
The new name, WestEdge, represents the credit union's dedication to serve, the credit union said. The $52.2 million asset credit union was created in 1952 to serve Pacific Coast Paper Mill employees. That company became part of Georgia-Pacific West Corp., the newspaper said.
The name WestEdge is a way of saying the credit union is located on the West Coast and its goal is to give its members an edge, Linda Sant, WestEdge, vice president of marketing, told the paper.