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Credit Unions Kick Off Annual Advocacy Meeting

The Missouri Credit Union Association's (MCUA) Annual Advocacy Meeting brought together credit union leaders and lawmakers from across the state during the two-day event in Jefferson City on February 9-10.

 More than 60 state senators and representatives participated in the MCUA legislative reception and dinner on February 9. Attendees discussed the credit union impact on their communities and key bills for the 2015 session.  

"Coming together with state lawmakers and being able to talk with them one-on-one is important," says MCUA President/CEO Don Cohenour. "Hearing from the people back home is essential, and we greatly appreciate our credit union leaders taking the time to come to our state capitol and share credit union concerns."

Those concerns include HB 256, a priority bill for MCUA which clarifies the financial institutions exemption in the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act (MMPA). Bills addressing the definition of robbery and electronic lien release are also a focus this session. Click here to see more information about the three issues highlighted with lawmakers.

Sharing the Credit Union Story

In advance of the legislative reception, participants learned the importance of sharing the credit union story. Josh Allison, of Think Café, inspired attendees to think outside of the box when relaying these stories to lawmakers. He challenged them to focus on exactly how they differentiate from banks. In today’s world, consumers have so many choices for nearly everything from salad dressings to financial institutions. It’s more important than ever for credit unions to show consumers that they not only offer the same convenient services and products as banks, but that supporting credit unions also benefits their communities.

Allison suggested that perhaps the biggest hurdle in raising awareness might actually be proving their relevance to consumers. 

“It could be that our awareness and growth came from our relevance and not the other way around. How do we get back to being relevant?” asks Allison.

He also touched on how to activate members and encourage stronger advocacy at the credit union level.

“Advocacy is reciprocal – if you want to have advocates, become advocates for others,” says Allison.

Federal and State Legislative Briefing

Attendees heard presentations about state and federal legislative issues and advocacy efforts from Amy McLard, MCUA senior vice president (SVP) of Advocacy, David Kent, director of State Legislative Affairs, and John McKechnie, who works with MCUA on federal legislative outreach in Washington, D.C. Credit union staff and volunteers will head to Washington, D.C. for the Governmental Affairs Conference in one month. Data security concerns remain a top priority, and Missouri credit union leaders will be asked to make outreach efforts in advance of the GAC.

“We need to do everything we can to make Congress understand how important the issue is,” says McKechnie​ regarding data breaches. 

McKechnie also noted that the Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs will put federal regulators on record through a hearing regarding “Regulatory Relief for Community Banks and Credit Unions” on February 10. Credit unions and other community financial institutions will be called on in a second hearing on February 12. 

Both McKechnie and McLard reminded credit union leaders of the second comment period deadline, April 27, for the amended Risk-Based Capital (RBC2) proposal. Attendees were thanked for their previous efforts and urged to write comment letters for this comment period as well.

Regarding state legislative issues, Kent summarized several issues, including:  

The MCUA Annual Advocacy Meeting first day schedule also included an MCUA Governmental Affairs Committee meeting, MCUA Board of Directors meeting and the Heartland Business Services business meeting.  Johnny O'Hare, president/CEO of Mid Missouri Credit Union, was elected to the Heartland Board of Directors.

The February 18 edition of the Missouri Difference will feature photos and information from day two of the Annual Advocacy Meeting.

Caption 1: Josh Allison inspires attendees to tell their stories in new ways. 

Caption 2: Rep. Tony Dugger, R-141, speaks with credit union leaders during the legislative reception. 

Caption 3: Pictured are Rep. Joe Adams, D-86, Mike O'Brien, SVP of St. Louis Community Credit Union, and Rep. Bill Otto, D-70.

Caption 4: Pictured are Rep. Mike Moon, R-157 (center) and his legislative assistant, Dave Myers, with leaders from BluCurrent Credit Union.