By Rose Oswald Poels
The Assembly Committee on Financial Institutions will be holding a public hearing at 12:00 p.m. on Wednesday, October 6, 2021 at the State Capitol in Madison. I am encouraging bankers to attend the hearing and testify in opposition to Assembly Bill 478, which contains provisions expanding authorized activities and powers of credit unions. If enacted, this legislation would provide credit unions with even more tools to grow, much to the detriment of Wisconsin’s banks.
Credit union activity is a key issue shared by WBA members, and this is your opportunity to convey directly to legislators the harm credit unions pose to your institution and why the Legislature should not grant them additional powers.
WBA leadership will be testifying in opposition on behalf of the association, but we need a greater show of force to ensure this legislation does not move past the public hearing phase the way the bill is currently written. I can assure you there will be numerous individuals appearing on behalf of the credit unions to testify in favor of this bill.
The WBA Government Relations team will provide you with a full compliment of materials to prepare you for the hearing, including logistics information and talking points. Most importantly, we will provide you with a template from which you can develop testimony. For anyone nervous about testifying — it is really quite easy. Legislators sincerely appreciate hearing from members of the public on issues and will be grateful for your input. I am also happy to do run-throughs or “coaching” via Zoom ahead of time.
Here are some of WBA’s main objections to the bill:
A section of the bill would mean credit union growth, lending, and activity in ways that contravene their charter. Such activities — such as allowing nonmember joint applicants — are outside the scope and original purpose of credit unions and should not be allowed.
A section of the bill would allow credit unions to issue or otherwise offer supplemental forms of capital as approved by the Office of Credit Unions (OCU) in the Department of Financial Institutions. WBA believes this provision is in connection with a proposal by NCUA to permit credit unions to issue subordinated debt for purposes of regulatory capital treatment. WBA strongly objected to NCUA’s proposal, and this activity should not be permitted for state-chartered credit unions.
A section of the bill would create a new procedure that any activity or power incidental to credit union business that is not already listed in statute becomes authorized for a federally chartered credit union, then the power/activity is to automatically become authorized activity/power on state level unless OCU issues general order noting such within 30-day window. Generally, WBA is not supportive of this automatic treatment and notes that this would reduce legislative oversight.
If you do not wish to testify but would like to express your opposition, you can attend the hearing and, upon arrival, check the box on your hearing slip indicating that you oppose the bill but do not want to testify. This will be noted in the committee’s report to the Assembly.
Please let me know as soon as possible if you can join us on October 6.
Thank you for your consideration!