NY young pros take credit union message to Capitol Hill

Contact: Ron McLean, Association SVP
(800) 342-9835, ext. 8191, cell: (518) 469-5945

(Albany, N.Y.) - Members of the Credit Union Association of New York’s Young Professional Commission (YPC) headed to Washington, D.C., with CUANY staff last week to dialogue with lawmakers on key credit union issues. In addition to visiting the offices of several House representatives, the group hand-delivered more than 13,000 Don’t Tax My Credit Union postcards to the offices of Sens. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.).

After arriving at Credit Union House early Wednesday afternoon, the advocates were briefed by staff from CUANY and CUNA on pressing legislative topics. Following the briefing, the group hand-delivered the Don’t Tax My Credit Union postcards and met with top aides from both Schumer and Gillibrand’s offices. For many of the advocates, it was an exciting first glimpse of lobbying at the federal level.

“I think the senators’ staff members were really surprised with our proactive approach,” said advocate Angela Hitchcock, loan officer at Sidney FCU. “They weren’t expecting all those postcards, and they seemed pleased with how we were bringing awareness to our members.”

The advocacy efforts continued Thursday morning, when the group met with nine House members and staffers. The young professionals shared insights on a wide range of issues, including the credit union tax status, member business lending, supplemental capital and government-sponsored entities (GSE) reform.

“The supplemental capital bill is particularly detailed and complex,” said YPC Chair Aimee Johnson, VP of lending at Oswego County FCU. “The representatives seemed to be much more responsive to the bill after we explained it in clear terms and gave real examples of how not having additional capital has hindered our credit unions.”

Lawmakers on both sides of the political aisle were receptive of the advocates’ message, and many expressed support for the credit union tax exemption. New York is one of the few states with strong bipartisan support on the issue.

“Nobody here wants to tax credit unions—it doesn’t make sense,” said Rep. Christopher Collins (R-N.Y.) during his time with the group.

In total, the advocates were able to meet with representatives or staff from one-third of the New York congressional delegation, including: Collins, Tom Reed (R), Bill Owens (D), Dan Maffei (D), Richard Hanna (R), Louise Slaughter (D), Peter King (R), Brian Higgins (D) and Chris Gibson (R).

“These visits created new personal relationships between our young credit union professionals and our federal legislators,” said Mike Lanotte, CUANY SVP/general counsel. “It also gave us the opportunity to discuss our legislative priorities and thank our cosponsors while strengthening our case with those yet to take that step.”

The advocates included: Stephanie Carl, Corning FCU; Cara Carlevatti, Great Erie FCU; Kate Czarnecki, FocalPoint FCU; Angela Hitchcock, Sidney FCU; Aimee Johnson, Oswego County FCU; Meghan McGee-Pelkey, UFirst FCU; Cristina Morrissiey, AmeriCU Credit Union; David Roy, Buffalo Metropolitan FCU; and Christin Vincent, The Summit FCU.

Left photo: The advocates discussed credit union issues with Rep. Dan Maffei (D-N.Y.). Right photo: The group also met with Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.).

The Credit Union Association of New York has served as the trade association for the state’s credit unions for 96 years. New York credit unions have assets of more than $65 billion and serve 4.9 million members. To learn more about CUANY, visit www.cuany.org. To find a credit union or learn more about the credit union movement, visit www.asmarterchoice.org.