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Texas Credit Unions Gather in Austin for Governmental Affairs Conference
Tuesday, February 17, 2015 7:00 AM

CUs meet with lawmaker
View all photos from the Texas GAC.

Credit unions from throughout Texas converged on the state Capitol this week for the Texas Governmental Affairs Conference. The GAC is an opportunity for credit unions to build relationships with elected officials and staff and educate them on the legislative issues of concern.

The event opened up with a networking reception, followed by a dinner that included credit union professionals and volunteers, as well as lawmakers and staff from the Capitol. The dinner speaker was Jeff Kreisler, a political humorist who has performed all over the world and provided punditry for the BBC, MSNBC, and CNN.

Credit union attendees heard from an impressive lineup of legislative speakers. State Sen. Charles Perry, chair of the Agriculture, Water, and Rural Affairs Committee, was first up. He gave the group an overview of the state budget and water and open-carry gun issues. He shared the group's concerns on data security breaches and felt that the problems with home equity lending should be examined.

Rep. Tan Parker, chairman of the Investments and Financial Services Committee, talked about his past support for credit unions and said he's looking forward to working with credit unions again as chairman of the committee of jurisdiction. He told the group he intends to bring data security legislation. That legislation is currently in development and may take the form of a study first to isolate the issues and options to resolve. He indicated the need to look at issues that inhibit Texans from getting home equity loans; and he was supportive of maintaining an independent Texas Credit Union Department that retains its SDSI status.

Rep. Todd Hunter, chairman of the Calendars Committee, encouraged credit unions to get involved and stay involved. Texas Credit Union Association President Jeff Huffman said, "Rep. Hunter made a really important point to our CU folks at the GAC conference about how important it is from the perspective of a lawmaker that they take time to come to the Capitol to talk to the lawmakers about the issues of concern."

Rep. Dan Flynn, chairman of the Pensions Committee and a member of the Investments and Financial Services Committee, talked about credit unions' ability to get their members involved on legislative issues and how important that has been to credit union success at the Capitol. He said, "The bankers come in with three or four people to talk about their issues, but when the credit unions show up, they bring three or four busloads."

Rep. Richard Raymond, chairman of Human Services and member of the Sunset Commission, talked about the sunset commission study on the SDSI program. Raymond added the amendments to the report to protect credit unions from having funds swept into the general revenue fund from the TCUD account. These protected credit unions from being forced pay more in assessments for regulation by the TCUD.

All of the Legislators expressed their continued support for the credit union tax exemption.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton briefed conference attendees on issues facing the people of Texas. He talked about the problem of cyber security in both government and private sectors and stated that the issue is a priority in his office. After his presentation, the AG stayed to visit with individual credit union leaders and had photos taken with everyone.

Texas Credit Union Department Commissioner Harold Feeney provided an update on the Credit Union Commission and areas of focus for the TCUD, including cybersecurity issues that credit unions face, along with the impact of the trend in mergers of credit unions.

Texas Credit Union Association President Jeff Huffman and Cornerstone Credit Union League SVP of Regulatory and Compliance Suzanne Yashewski conducted a briefing on the credit union bills of interest that have been filed in the legislature thus far, along with the legislative issues of focus for meetings at the Capitol.

"We really appreciate all of the credit unions that attended the 2015 Texas Credit Union Association Governmental Affairs Conference," Huffman said. "They did a great job in their meetings with lawmakers discussing the issues of concern. We have had lot of calls from legislators’ offices wanting follow up on their meetings with the CU folks."

View photos from the event.