Removing Barriers Blog

5 Things You Need to Know About Your GAC Visits with Policymakers
Posted February 21, 2016 by CUNA Advocacy

I hope you will all join me at 2pm on Monday for the Advocacy Briefing in Hall E, but if you’re not able to join us or maybe you were there and want a reminder of what we discussed, here are 5 things you need to know about your GAC visits with policymakers

1.This is not rocket science.

Let not make this more complicated than it needs to be. We are here to tell our story.  You are the experts in your field.  Don’t get distracted by the marble floor and mahogany desks.  You’re meeting with elected officials, regulators and other public servants, but very few of them have ever run a credit union.  In this situation, you have the knowledge and expertise – use it!  Help them understand how public policy is impacting your credit unions.

2. Lawmakers are going to tell you nothing will get done this year.  It’s only half true.

    No one expects Congress to get more of anything done this year, and the recent death of Supreme Court Justice Anthony Scalia (and subsequent squabble over the nomination of his successor) doesn’t help much.  Truth be told, Congress is on track to enact just about 1.5% of the bills introduced, which, if you can believe it, would top the last Congress in terms of inefficiency.

    However, history tells us that the eighth year of a presidential results in 25% of more regulatory activity than the average of the first seven years.  Think about the regulatory activity of the last seven years and imagine what 25% more this year would mean for your credit union.  My friends, there is a lot that will happen in Washington this year.  And that is why our advocacy approach is a 360 degree approach.  We’re going to have to use the legislature to try to influence the regulators.

    3. There are three key messages for us to deliver to policymakers.

      So, what are we going to tell policymakers this week?  We have three key messages:

      • NCUA’s Field of Membership Rule Will Help Consumers Access Credit Unions
      • Regulatory Burden Impedes Credit Union Service and Leads to Consolidation
      • Merchant Data Breach is preventable if those that accept cards for payment are held to the same security standards as those that issue payment cards.

      4. Data helps tell our story, but local examples drive it home.

        CUNA and member credit unions took a lot of time this year to develop a study measuring the cost of regulatory burden.  Take a look at the report that suggests the annual cost is $7.2 billion!  It’s important for us to be able to put a number of the costs you incur to comply with the ever increasing, never decreasing regulatory burden, but in your meetings this week, it will be just as important to localize the impact.  Talk to Members of Congress about the members that you haven’t been able to serve because of regulatory burden.  Tell them about the services you’ve cut back or eliminated altogether.  They care about their constituents – make this personal to them.

        5. Advocacy is a long game.

          Your job is not finished when you leave Washington.  Not be a long shot.  Advocacy is a marathon, not a sprint.  When you go home, follow-up with the folks you’ve met here in Washington.  Invite them to your credit union to meet with your employees, volunteers and members.  When issues arise, use the relationship you’re developing to convey your concerns.  Treat this as a relationship – because that is what it is – and understand that strong relationships don’t develop overnight.  They take time and effort.  It’s incumbent on us to put in the time and effort.

          I hope your visits are productive and if we can be of any assistance to you, please do not hesitate to reach out to me.


          Ryan Donovan, Chief Advocacy Officer