As you know, our LSCU Advocacy teams and credit union leaders from Alabama and Florida converged in Washington, D.C., last week for CUNA GAC. With a boots on the ground approach, we took the credit union message to lawmakers on the Hill, and it was an impressive crowd with more than 70 Alabama leaders and more than 120 Florida leaders in attendance. That sends a powerful message, and we frequently heard our credit unions comment that this was one of the best outreach efforts that they had experienced.
The GAC’s Sunday night welcome reception was extremely well attended and a great kick-off for the week, and the spirit of the event was demonstrated when Florida Crasher Michael Poucher spontaneously jumped up to join CUNA CEO/President Jim Nussle in front of the general session, touting the one thing folks should know about credit unions: “that credit unions welcome all people with open arms!”
We also had the surprise opportunity to hear Vice President Mike Pence speak during the event, when he shared a strong message of support for the credit union movement. He spoke to a packed room and said credit unions help families and communities, small and large, and are always there to make a difference and help members now and in planning for the future.
One of the important things he said was, “Continue to stand with families. It has always touched me that CUs don’t have clients, they have members … Keep doing what you’re doing and believing in the communities you’re serving. Keep investing in the American dream. Have faith.”
On Tuesday night before our Hill visits, the LSCU presented awards for 2018 Alabama Federal Lawmaker of the Year to Sen. Doug Jones through the Alabama Credit Union Association and 2018 Florida Federal Lawmaker of the Year to Rep. Al Lawson through the Florida Credit Union Association. Both individuals have demonstrated their commitment and support by listening to our issues, co-sponsoring legislation, and voting in support of the credit union position.
Credit union advocates were engaged and focused on the industry’s priority issues. In all, Alabama credit union leaders had productive meetings with all seven members of the House of Representatives and with two Senate offices. Lawmakers confirmed their support of the credit union tax exemption and the need for a strong national standard on data security.
Our Florida credit union leaders had meaningful visits with 27 offices in the House of Representatives and two in the Senate, during which time lawmakers confirmed their support of the credit union tax exemption and the need for a strong national standard on data security and consumer privacy.
In addition to the impactful time spent with our lawmakers, the LSCU coordinated a joint Alabama and Florida meeting with NCUA Chairman Mark McWatters to discuss critical credit union issues. Those in attendance included: Steve Swofford – Alabama CU, Bill Connor – America’s First FCU, Bobby Michael – Army Aviation Center FCU, Linda Cencula – Avadian CU, Thomas Flowers – Calhoun-Liberty Employees CU, John Hirabayashi – Community First CU of Florida, Cecilia Homison – First Commerce CU, Maggie Sayer – Keys FCU, Greg Olmsted – North Alabama Educators CU, Tim Antonition – Space Coast CU, Kevin Johnson – Suncoast CU, Rick Skaggs – USF FCU
This GAC was one for the history books and we applaud all who took time out of their schedules to be a part of the effort. We look forward to continuing this momentum this week with Alabama Advocacy Conference in Montgomery and next week with Florida’s Advocacy Conference in Tallahassee. There is still time to join us if you are not already registered. Let’s keep up the impetus and continue to build impactful relationships with our lawmakers.