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Record-Setting 190 Representatives Attend Kansas Day at the Capitol

Kansas credit unions in the Senate Chambers

More than 190 credit union representative spent February 15 sharing the credit union message, a record number for this Heartland Credit Union Association's (HCUA) Day at the Capitol event. View more photos on Facebook.

"Credit unions were the talk of Topeka last week," said HCUA's Stephanie Mullholland, director of legislator affairs-Kansas. "Several legislators took note of our numbers and new legislators appreciated the chance to learn more about our not-for-profit cooperative structure. Being able to connect lawmakers with local faces – people who live, work and raise their families in their hometowns - is what keeps the credit union movement so strong."

Attendees met with their legislators, heard from both Republications and Democrat legislators from the House and Senate, and attended a legislator reception. 

In the morning, Brad Douglas, president/CEO of the Heartland Credit Union Association welcomed credit unions in the Senate Chambers, where they heard from Senate Vice President & Financial Institutions and Insurance Chairman Jeff Longbine and Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley.

The afternoon was filled with individual legislative visits and an inside perspective from the House side with Speaker Pro Tem Scott Schwab, House Financial Institutions Chairman Jim Kelly and Senate Minority Leader Jim Ward.

Representatives from Frontier Community Credit Union and Mainstreet Credit Union meet with Sen. Julia Lynn (R-Olathe). James Nastars, president/CEO of Meritrust Credit Union talks with Kansas Governor Sam Brownback.

This was Kansas State University Federal Credit Union Branch Manager Yvonne Henke’s first time at Day at the Capitol. 

“I was very impressed with our local Senators and their involvement in the community, especially schools," she said. “My favorite part was listening to the attorney speak in the evening. It directly impacts me in many ways and was very interesting and informative.”

A large number of new legislators is just one reason the crowd was so big this year, said Mullholland.

"I think we can attribute the record numbers to several factors – a unique opportunity to hear from the state’s top political leaders, so many new things happening on the state level with a huge class of freshmen legislators and a serious budget shortfall looming, and the fact that Kansans love their credit unions," Mulloholland added.

Jessica Somers, Envista Credit Union's VP of marketing has attended this event for 14 years.

"There are many new legislators this year so it’s important for credit union employees and volunteers to meet their legislators and build a relationship with them to learn about how credit unions are different from other financial institutions and the roles credit unions play in the communities," she said. "My favorite part of the day is the meetings with my legislators at the Statehouse and during the evening reception."

Attendees also talked to the legislators about: 

  • the passage of the Prize-Linked Savings legislation (2016 Senate Bill 390). Several Kansas credit unions are preparing to launch these accounts this year. 
  • keeping regulatory costs down to keep fees and loan rates affordable for Kansans.

Credit unions also provided provide them with an overview of how the industry is different from for-profit financial institutions. 

“Legislators need to understand that the ‘profits’ we make go back into the communities and we need their support to be able to continue to give back,” said Henke.

While most of the day was spent at the Statehouse, participants attended a private briefing at the Capitol Plaza Hotel about fraud and consumer protection with Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt. A legislator reception ended the event.

This annual event is important for connecting with legislators, and Mullholland has tips for continuing the relationship after Day at the Capitol.

"A great way to build on the relationships made at DATC would be to send a follow-up note or email to your lawmakers and let them know you appreciated their time and offer yourself up as a resource on financial services issues, " said Mullholland. "If you took a photo with your lawmaker during DATC, email that to them, identify the people and their credit unions in the photo for them, and invite them to use the picture in their next constituent newsletter. We’ve already seen lawmakers using photos from DATC in their newsletters this past week, which helps strengthen that relationship – plus it promotes individual credit unions to consumers in the district."

Our Advocacy events aren't over yet. CUNA's Governmental Affairs Conference is February 26 - March 2 and more than 100 Kansas and Missouri credit unions are going. We also have a Hike the Hill scheduled for June. 

Vocab Legislation: