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GAC 2015: Missouri CU Leaders Hike Capitol Hill

Dozens of credit union leaders from across the state wrapped up Credit Union National Association's (CUNA) Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC) by heading to Capitol Hill to advocate for Missouri credit unions. The GAC took place in Washington, D.C. on March 8-12, and includes networking opportunities, informative breakout sessions, and nationally recognized keynote speakers such as Ari Fleischer, Arianna Huffington and Tom Ridge.

“The GAC always features some great speakers, but this year’s event was especially interesting because we were able to meet new CUNA President Jim Nussle," says Michael O'Brien, SVP & Chief Advocacy Officer for St. Louis Community Credit Union. "He came across as a personable, charismatic leader who is focused on how CUNA can provide tremendous value to its member credit unions – and he wants us to win big on the political advocacy front. I thought his message was well received by those in attendance."

Most importantly, the GAC brings credit union advocates together for a united showing on Capitol Hill on March 11-12. Missouri’s credit union advocates met with federal legislators in groups and one-on-one meetings. This included both of Missouri’s U.S. Senators, Claire McCaskill (D) and Roy Blunt (R), and staff members handling financial services issues for Missouri’s eight House members. You can view high-resolution photos of these visits on Facebook

Seven bills affecting credit unions were introduced the week before GAC, ranging from two bills to address the member business lending limit to legislation implementing multiple regulatory relief measures. Click here for the Missouri Credit Union Association (MCUA) information sheet provided to lawmakers.  Key issues discussed include preserving the credit union tax status, addressing merchant data breaches and removing barriers to member service—regulatory relief such as unnecessary privacy notices, member business lending, patent reform, mortgage reform, and others.

"Our GAC attendees from Missouri did a wonderful job representing credit union concerns in each office, explaining the impact to members and consumers," says Amy McLard, MCUA's SVP of Advocacy. "Hearing directly from volunteers and staff from the district makes the issue real and really helps explain why legislation is needed."

Earlier in the week, Dennis Pierce, former president/CEO of CommunityAmerica Credit Union, was inducted into Credit Union House’s Hall of Leaders and presented the gavel to the new chair of CUNA's Board of Directors. For more on that story, click here

“GAC gave us an opportunity to say goodbye to outgoing CUNA Chairman Dennis Pierce, and to acknowledge his outstanding contributions to the CU movement both in Missouri and throughout the country. His leadership and, of course, his humor will be greatly missed,” says O'Brien. 

As outgoing Chairman of CUNA, Pierce addressed the crowd and urged credit unions to involve their members in advocacy efforts by utilizing the Member Activation Program (MAP). "The only way we are going to win in Washington, D.C. is by asking our members to help," stated Pierce.

Thirty-four credit union leaders from these 11 credit unions in Missouri joined nearly 5,000 attendees at the GAC:

  • Anheuser-Busch Employees’ Credit Union
  • Arsenal Credit Union
  • CommunityAmerica Credit Union
  • CU Community Credit Union
  • Electro Savings Credit union
  • Mid-Missouri Credit Union
  • River Region Credit Union
  • St. Louis Community Credit Union
  • United Consumers Credit Union
  • Vantage Credit Union
  • West Community Credit Union

In addition to CUNA’s agenda and the legislative visits, the Missouri Credit Union Association coordinated a legislative briefing and group dinner for Missouri attendees.

CUNA reported more than 600 first-time attendees, including participants in the "Crash the GAC" program.  The GAC Crashers are young credit union professionals selected due to their interest in supporting credit unions and advocacy efforts. There was a Crasher from each state, including Danielle Buscher as Missouri's GAC Crasher. She is the Learning & Development manager for West Community Credit Union.

"Meeting with the lawmakers was the most exciting part of the GAC," says Buscher. "For me, it was really exciting to be able to discuss the issues that affect credit unions."

Credit union advocacy efforts extend beyond the GAC. To find out more and receive weekly emails regarding advocacy opportunities, click here to register for the Missouri Credit Union Association Center for Legislative Action.

Caption (top): U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt meets with Don Cohenour, MCUA President/CEO, Howard Hoemann, Electro Savings volunteer, and Bob McKay, ABECU President/CEO. 

Caption (middle): Dennis Pierce addresses the audience during CUNA's GAC.

Caption (bottom): U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill discusses the issues with Missouri's credit union leaders.