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CUNA Mutual Group Continues CU System Advocacy Efforts in 2015
Thursday, February 26, 2015 6:40 AM

By Christopher P. Roe, Senior Vice President
Corporate and Legislative Affairs
CUNA Mutual Group

As a partner in the credit union system, CUNA Mutual Group continues to be a strong and vocal advocate for credit unions and their members. We have a long and accomplished history in this area, from H.R. 1151 to the IRS battles regarding the Unrelated Business Income Taxes, to the more recent "Don't Tax My Credit Union" campaign. As the 114th Congress begins its work, we will continue to play an active role with credit union trade associations in advancing the public policy agenda of credit unions.

For us and the credit union system, the defense of the credit union tax exemption remains our top priority. We continue to fund research in this area and are working with CUNA staff in preparing for the tax debate in the 114th Congress. Most recently, we are joining CUNA and the Leagues in bank battles in Illinois and Iowa by contributing significant funds to amplify credit unions' defense of the tax exemption. In addition, we believe coordination with the cooperative system is invaluable when discussing tax policy.

By working with other cooperative sectors, we are able to share intelligence on tax legislation, strategize how we can work together, and identify common interests in defense of tax policy impacting the cooperative model. As a result, our own Larry Blanchard, who led the charge during H.R. 1151, and the National Cooperative Bank have brought together a diverse group of cooperative sectors, including credit union trade associations, to discuss and coordinate on tax reform.

While passing tax reform is daunting, the debate today and, in particular, the work of House Ways and Means Chairman Paul Ryan, represents the building blocks for future tax reform. Chairman Ryan has already indicated the work of his predecessor will be a starting point. That's good news considering the great work of the credit union system to keep the credit union tax exemption out of former Chairman Camp's bill in the last Congress. As many will concur, the legislative debate becomes much more difficult once a tax provision is placed in the draft bill. 

As an insurance company, CUNA Mutual Group continues to be a leader in cybersecurity and plastic card fraud. In the last year, our senior executives have met with White House and Treasury officials to share our perspectives. Because our subject matter expertise is valued, CUNA Mutual Group was invited to the President's address on cybersecurity at Stanford University on Feb. 13.  

As credit unions face increasing risk in this area, we hope to continue to provide solutions to mitigate this threat. Beyond working with various federal agencies, we joined forces with CUNA to sponsor and provide input to the StopTheBreaches.com website. The intent of the website is to inform the public—particularly Congress—on how a multifaceted approach is necessary in mitigating data breaches and to dispel certain myths raised by merchant groups.

On the regulatory front, our LOANLINER team is working overtime to help credit unions prepare for TILA/RESPA changes. Through several webinars that were attended by hundreds of credit unions, sharing our concerns with the National Credit Union Administration and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, we are taking an active role in helping credit unions meet the demands of these new regulations. Similarly, given the major ramifications of NCUA's risk-based capital rule, we worked with the business community to make sure their voice was heard and filed our own comments with NCUA. 

Member business lending is important to a number of credit unions and it's important to us. As small businesses turn more and more to credit unions, we believe there is an opportunity for the system to provide an array of financial solutions. To that end, we connected Georgetown University Professor David Walker with CUNA and the Filene Research Institute and commissioned a study on the impact of member business lending on small businesses. We look forward to his study and intend to share the results with Congress.

Finally, patent reform remains a possibility in this Congress. CUNA Mutual Group, as a financial institution, is subject to the same issues that credit unions face. While we made some inroads when patent reform was passed a few years ago, more should be and can be done. We will continue to work side by side with the credit union trades to tackle this issue, which may be one of the few major bills to pass this Congress.

CHRISTOPHER P. ROE is senior vice president, corporate and legislative affairs, at CUNA Mutual Group. Contact him at christopher.roe@cunamutual.com.