The state legislative session commences on January 8th, and when it begins there are already more than 2,000 bills from 2017 still eligible for action (more than 300 of which have direct or potential changes for credit unions). And, legislators have already begun “prefiling” bills for 2018, with hundreds if not thousands more to come. Even without the chaotic election-year dynamics that are likely to impact the session, it will bring a deluge of new bills on top of the existing issues that will require regular analysis, constant review and strategic lobbying to protect and advance credit unions.
How does one prepare? The trick is to stay immersed in the issues and people who impact them, so as to shape the outcome before January even arrives. All the legislator interaction between credit unions and legislators throughout the year builds towards this, to help grow the influence of credit unions and increase the understanding of the elected leaders who vote on the issues that matter to the industry. In addition, there have been multiple formal hearings in the off session where issues are addressed in advance of January. These have ranged from tax exemption analysis, data security (the most recent was held on November 30th), to various hearings regarding property issues, in addition to volumes more. In addition, GCUA has also engaged with various business groups through the year to gain insight into what other issues may arise, with the most recent two with lobbyists on December 4th and a private meeting between GCUA and the other financial trade associations on November 30th.
And while the legislative session is not here yet, the atmosphere and activity at the state Capitol would suggest otherwise. On November 27th both the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee atypically convened to enact a seldom-used legislative maneuver to postpone the Department of Revenue’s (DOR) proposed rules as they applied to H.B. 337, one of the bills that passed this year in regard to the department’s creating an electronic database for tax liens. However, the DOR’s proposed rules went far beyond the scope of what the original bill entailed, adding language from bills that did not pass, and requiring new processes and certificates of clearance for deeds filed. This issue will continue to be monitored closely, as it is anticipated to be one of the several bills to be addressed in 2018. Stay tuned!