Congress has a varied schedule of being “in” and out of legislative session throughout the year in Washington, D.C., and the state Legislature typically meets for the first three to four months of the year, but will utilize the rest of the year for multiple “off session” hearings. The activity in Congress as well as the off-session hearings on a state level are monitored closely. From a credit union perspective, it is important to be engaged early in the process on the bills that can impact the industry, as issues proposed in these hearings are almost impossible to alter once the session begins. Most recent Congressional activity as well as state-level hearings of industry interest include:
- On September 18th the second state Joint Committee on Low THC Oil Access hearing was held in Carrollton as a series of events to analyze the state’s policies and potential policies surrounding access to low-THC oil. From a credit union perspective, GCUA is monitoring how the state treats hemp, low-THC oil and any marijuana legislation, as being able to obtain financial services is a factor in this policy consideration given the conflict between state and federal government on this topic.
- On September 24th the state Senate held the first of several hearings on a special study committee analyzing a potential special lottery to benefit veterans. There are six states that currently have a lottery-funded veterans’ services program, and Georgia is presently weighing the option. From a credit union perspective this issue touches multiple areas of interest, from military to consumer to operations. During the hearing the senators’ discussion touched on mortgage lending programs as well as the support groups that support the needs of veterans.
- On September 25th U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) introduced legislation that would require credit unions to be examined for compliance with the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA). Congress exempted credit unions from the CRA when it was enacted in 1977, determining that it was unnecessary and counter-intuitive for it to apply to member-owned financial cooperatives. If this bill moves forward, the benefits consumers receive from having credit unions in the marketplace could be jeopardized. To prepare for the discussion on this topic, please share with us the far-too-numerous examples of how your credit union provided loans to members who otherwise were turned down by other financial institutions; please email any examples to Cindy Connelly at email@example.com.
GCUA anticipates more hearings in the months ahead, and the activity in Congress will continue. In addition, GCUA continues to watch for news on the potential Amazon headquarters selection – as, if that happens, Governor Nathan Deal has shared that he will call the state Legislature back for a special session (any time) to outline tax incentives. Stay tuned.