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CUNA's Bill Cheney visits Florida credit unions

Credit unions in the Pensacola area listen as CUNA's Bill Cheney speaks

Credit unions in Pensacola, Tallahassee and South Florida had the opportunity to meet CUNA President/CEO Bill Cheney at Town Hall meetings hosted by Pen Air Federal Credit Union, Florida Commerce Credit Union and BrightStar Credit Union. The meetings, the last three of the total of seven meetings held in December and January, gave credit unions a chance to meet the new CUNA CEO and also hear about CUNA's regulatory and legislative priorities for the upcoming year.

Cheney began the meetings by touting credit unions for distinguishing themselves for their good works during the financial crisis because they continued to be there for members while others turned their backs on them.

"You should be proud of this accomplishment," said Cheney. "I'm extremely proud of your efforts."

CUNA President/CEO Bill Cheney addressing credit unions at Florida Commerce CU

During Cheney's Washington update, he cited examples of credit unions making an impression on legislators. At a CUNA open house last week at Credit Union House in D.C., Cheney was approached by several members of Congress pointing out the great work credit unions are doing and that they were aware that credit unions didn't cause the financial crisis. With 107 new legislators, Cheney says the attitude of the 112th Congress is "what can we do to help people be better and successful." This fits right in line with the credit union philosophy.

In regards to the NCUA's proposed regulations, Cheney said they supported provision to count Section 208 assistance as net worth; questioned the provision that would allow the NCUA to borrow money from the Treasury to help pay for corporate credit union losses; and opposed reviving expired legal claims, allowing the NCUA to bring action on any claim on which the statute of limitations has expired.

CUNA's priorities include being in constant contact with the Federal Reserve regarding interchange issues. He reminded attendees to help CUNA ensure that the two-tier interchange system is effective by going to the top of the home page of the CUNA website under "Operation Comment" to submit comments to the Federal Reserve Board regarding its interchange proposal. The deadline for comments to the Fed is February 22. (Credit unions can submit a comment letter to the LSCU by Feb. 8 by visiting the LSCU Regulatory Action Calls and Comment letter page)

Cheney said the Treasury is working with CUNA regarding the corporate restructuring and assessments. He said the Treasury wants to preserve the cooperative financial system. The NCUA has promised that they are working on this. Cheney also assured attendees that CUNA is keeping tabs on the NCUA's spending and that there will be an examination process guidance document for credit unions to understand their rights and responsibilities during an examination.

On the legislative front, CUNA's priorities include having supplemental capital as an option. The U.S. is the only developed country in which credit unions don't have supplemental capital. Another priority is member business lending (MBL). Cheney said this is the only legislation that Treasury Sec. Tim Geithner made calls directly to legislators to support MBL. Cheney said that, despite it not being pushed through in 2010, we won't have to go back to the start line.

In closing, Cheney said that CUNA will be making stronger grassroots efforts by determining where every one of the 535 lawmakers stands on credit unions, and he wants to create a vision for credit unions in the future.