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Hike the Hill Brings Opportunity for Kansas and Missouri Credit Unions

Federal lawmakers from Kansas and Missouri heard from credit union advocates on key issues during Hike the Hill, June 14-16. Topics included data security, regulatory relief, credit union specific legislation including member business lending, and the credit union difference – including the need to maintain credit unions’ tax status.

“As the saying goes, people have to hear your message more than once to internalize it. It is no different with the credit union message – your federal legislators need to hear from you more than once a year to know how their actions on the Hill impact their constituents and communities at home,” says Jane Hammil, Wichita Federal Credit Union.

Seventeen credit union participants from 10 credit unions and the Heartland Credit Union Association (HCUA) took part in Hike the Hill.

"The experience of ‘Hiking the Hill’ was one of learning. The democratic process of communicating with our elected officials was energizing, educational, and fun," says Larry Sewell, Anheuser-Busch Employees' Credit Union.  

“The experience was great. It’s always interesting to see what the actual process is in Washington D.C.,” says Chris Wolgamott, Meritrust Credit Union. “It was amazing to me how many different branches and ancillary departments in our government have their hands on a piece of legislation to get it through.”

 Pictured at left: credit union advocates meet with Senator Jerry Moran (KS).
At right, Senator Claire McCaskill (MO) speaks during Special Committee on Aging hearing.

“The best part of the Hike the Hill experience is seeing passionate movement representatives petitioning their representatives on behalf of their members,” says Jim Holt, Mid American Credit Union. 

In addition to Hill visits, several committee hearings focused on credit union interests. 

Missouri U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill (D) highlighted savings promotion programs as an innovation to help people save during the Special Committee on Aging hearing on June 15. Sen. McCaskill is the ranking member on this committee. HCUA’s advocacy team led efforts to pass bills allowing these programs in both Kansas and Missouri this legislative session. 

Attendees also watched as the House Financial Services Committee held a day-long meeting to vote on a variety of bills, including the Senior$afe Act (H.R. 4538). The bill would provide legal immunity for financial services employees who disclose concerns about elder financial abuse.

Pictured at left is U.S. Rep. Mike Pompeo (KS-District 4) with Kansas credit union advocates.
At right, U.S. Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (MO-District 3) meets with Missouri credit union advocates.

“It's going to be an interesting year,” says Tracey Hannah, CommunityAmerica Credit Union. “Some of our lawmakers were clear that not much would be moving; however, we witnessed groundwork for regulatory relief during Committee meetings. Even though some bills may not be passed during this election year with a major impact on credit unions, the foundation was laid for an exciting 2017!”

As part of Hike the Hill, attendees also attended the NCUA Board meeting and had a one-on-one meeting with NCUA Board Member Mark McWatters. Read more here.

Looking ahead, attendees encourage credit unions to participate in both future Hike the Hills and in-district meetings. 

"If you feel intimidated about visiting Washington D.C. or our lawmakers, that is natural," says Raymond Stroud, of Golden Plains Credit Union. "But as a team you can make a difference when we share our own credit union experiences with them."

“It is vital for our voices to be heard and there is strength in numbers,” says Sarah Meehan, Mid American Credit Union.

John Beverlin, Mainstreet Credit Union, agreed. “We need your help. The more that attend, the stronger our message will come across.”  

For more pictures, view the HCUA Facebook album for Hike the Hill 2016. 

 Pictured is U.S. Rep. Vicky Hartzler (MO-District 4) meets with credit union leaders.
Pictured is U.S. Rep. Kevin Yoder (KS-District 3) with credit union advocates.
U.S. Rep. Billy Long (MO-District 7) meets with credit union advocates.
U.S. Rep. Ann Wagner (MO-District 2) meets with credit union advocates.