Congress has been a hotbed of activity of interest to credit unions as of late, with multiple hearings, subcommittee hearings and floor action of note to the industry. These issues ranged from potential regulations on the fintech world to looking at Fannie Mae, and touched areas that ran the gamut from bankruptcy law to artificial intelligence in the financial sector. And, on the horizon after a Congressional recess we may see action on data security legislation, as well as potentially creating safeguards for providing services to the marijuana industry to name a few! It’s not a time to take a back seat on paying attention to what is happening in Congress, as any of these issues could alter how credit unions operate. A few of the areas of recent activity of note include:
Unrelated Business Taxes: On June 20th the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee passed by a narrow margin (22-19) the Economic Mobility Act of 2019 (H.R. 3300), which contains a repeal of unrelated business income tax (UBIT) on certain fringe benefits at not-for-profits. CUNA wrote to the committee in advance of the markup, detailing its support for the UBIT repeal. A provision in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (TCJA) required tax-exempt organizations currently subject to UBIT to pay effectively 21 percent on certain employee fringe benefits, namely transportation and parking benefits.
Member Communications: On January 25th the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology moved forward H.R. 3375, the Stopping Bad Robocalls Act. This legislation was initially introduced as H.R. 946 earlier this year and credit unions, Leagues and CUNA have worked with members of Congress to make positive changes. Through the previous work by the credit union industry, the bill requires the Federal Communications Commission to resolve the dispute between the varying judicial circuits on the definition of an “auto-dialer” by providing that definition within six months of the enactment of the law – a positive move for credit unions. In addition, the bill reinforces the need for notice and complaint mechanisms for callers as a component of the FCC’s efforts to mandate opt-out call-blocking services and eliminates any reference to “unwanted calls.” More than 1,000 credit unions (including Georgia) weighed in to challenge the FCC’s original draft ruling using the language of “unwanted calls” and forgoing any notice and complaint resolution – and the FCC was forced to amend the ruling to include those components prior to passage.
Military Bases: This week the Senate passed S. 1790, the National Defense Authorization Act of 2019. This legislation includes language that appears to limit rent-free military base access to banks that have a customer base that is at least 95 percent military- or former military-related. Although evaluation of the language is ongoing, it appears to be a significant improvement from language that was considered last year. CUNA has a team that is analyzing the language as it is a fluid process up to (and including) when the Senate considers the legislation prior to the conference committee.
The above is just a small segment of the activity, with efforts from CUNA’s lobbying team, Leagues’ engagement with Congress, and communications from individual credit unions in play. But with all the activity, how can your credit union make a difference?
- Stay informed on the issues. The adjacent article has a variety of resources to help educate your board and team on the legislative topics that can impact how you serve your members.
- Build connections with legislators. Engage with them at civic meetings, in district events, and help illustrate the positive impact of credit unions in the district.
- Share the impact of issues with legislators. This can be done through Hike the Hill meetings in D.C., in-district local Hike meetings, and engaging with calls to action.
So many of you do all of these on a regular basis – thank you! Please look for opportunities to continue to do so; it makes a tangible difference in the outcome in legislation at both the federal and state levels.