Growing personal connections with legislators is an important action for credit unions, but with 16 Georgia federal legislators, eight statewide offices, 236 state legislators, and a wide number of local elected officials around the state – how does one begin? It’s easy; there are always opportunities to connect with legislators in the district, at civic meetings, at town halls, and in their roles in the Legislature and Congress. However, it’s even more powerful to build a strong relationship EARLY in their career. These relationships can be the difference in how a legislator views issues and how they vote on bills. And, how they vote on bills that can impact the manner in which credit unions operate and serve their members.
On September 19th credit unions helped build an early relationship with another freshman in the state Senate – state Sen. Blake Tillery (R-Vidalia). This meeting was designed to build a personal connection and grow his understanding of credit unions, as Sen. Tillery is new (elected at the end of 2016) and has already poised himself as one to watch for future growth. He is an actively engaged and outspoken member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, where many of the bills that touch credit unions are debated. And, with the large amount of turnover in the Senate with multiple individuals running for higher office, he will find himself moving ahead quicker in the ranks – even possibly securing a chairmanship soon.
Leaders from Altamaha FCU and Robins Financial CU met with Sen. Tillery in his Vidalia law office to illustrate how credit unions are different, how they operate, and the legislative needs of the industry in the state Capitol. In the process, the impact of the overall regulatory burden the industry faces from federal regulation was expressed, a point on which Sen. Tillery commiserated in his non-legislative role. And, he remarked that having people from his area be the ones to help educate him was significant as it placed an in-district face on the industry. This is the entire point of hike-at-home meetings! Our thanks to the credit unions for sharing their time and making a positive connection with this legislator. The more credit unions can engage with elected officials, the greater the awareness and understanding of the industry.