Creating Influence

Growing Awareness: Building Connections with Legislators

Credit unions dedicate time and attention to growing awareness of the industry with multiple segments of the population. This is seen in the media and marketing efforts, through internal communications with members themselves to share what is new at their credit unions, as well as with state and federal legislators on how credit unions are unique. This legislator segment is an important part of the “awareness” target population as these are the individuals who vote on the bills that impact how credit unions operate, how you serve your members, and if credit unions can even exist!

In this past year alone the industry has seen why growing this awareness is important, with the inclusion of credit union issues in the federal financial reform bill that passed, S. 2155; how credit unions were treated in the multiple tax reform proposals in Washington, D.C., and the lobbying efforts of over 550 bills in the state legislative session. And that’s not including the wide range of bills introduced on a regular basis that could impact how credit unions operate today (such as the bill introduced on September 25th by U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) to bring credit unions under the Community Reinvestment Act). These are perfect examples of why credit unions do (and should continue to) devote time and attention in growing the awareness legislators have of credit unions to ensure that they understand what makes credit unions unique. The most recent efforts to grow the awareness of legislators and build connections include:

  • On September 20th U.S. Congressman Rob Woodall (R-7)met with Georgia’s Own CU to hear from their leadership and staff on their efforts to help people afford life. Rep. Woodall serves on multiple committees, including the House Committee on Rules (which decides which bills go to the House floor for a vote). Rep. Woodall is also chairman of the Subcommittee on Legislative and Budget Process of this powerful committee. While Rep. Woodall has a strong understanding of credit unions, reiterating the unique nature of the industry is helpful as the environment and issues in Congress is consistently fluid.
  • On September 20th, LGE Community CU, United Methodist Connectional FCU and GCUA sat down with state Rep. Teri Anulewicz (D-Smyrna) in Marietta for a “hike at home” meeting. Rep. Anulewicz is new to the Legislature, sworn in just this past November after a special election. This lunch was sought specifically to help create a relationship with her for the future, connecting her with the credit unions in her district so that when she considers legislation, she has a well-rounded perspective of how it may impact the industry.
  • On September 21st, Coosa Valley CU was engaged at an in-district event for state Rep. Trey Kelley (R-Cedartown). Coosa Valley CU CEO Andy Harris had created a relationship with Rep. Kelley prior to his first election in 2013, and this connection has been positive for the industry as Rep. Kelley has consistently been open on the issues that matter to credit unions. Rep. Kelley serves on two committees where several of the bills that impact credit unions are debated: Judiciary and Ways and Means.

Relationships like this help expand the level of influence for the industry, and Georgia credit unions have been actively growing connections with elected leaders – veteran legislators as well as newly elected officials. These efforts create a greater understanding of credit unions for the legislators – please take advantage of opportunities to engage when they arise!

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