Weighty issues on the horizon mean it’s more important than ever for Georgia credit union employees to become involved in state politics and legislation.
That was the message lobbyists, regulators and legislators delivered to the more than 50 Georgia credit union employees gathered at the State Capitol on Jan. 28 for the 2020 Georgia State GAC Grassroots Academy, hosted by the Georgia Credit Union Association (GCUA). GCUA is the division of the League of Southeastern Credit Unions & Affiliates that represents credit unions in Georgia.
“The first thing I want to say to you is how important it is for you to be here,” said Jay Morgan, principal at JL Morgan Company – a firm which lobbies on behalf of the League of Southeastern Credit Unions & Affiliates at the state house. “‘Grassroots advocacy’ means that when this day is over, your legislator should know who you are without a nametag – that you’ll be a resource for them when an issue comes up on anything that might affect your business.”
During the GAC session, participants from credit unions across Georgia were able to interface with four members of the Georgia legislative body, including Senator John F. Kennedy (R-18); Senator Gloria Butler (D-55); Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver (D-82) and Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan. They also heard from Department of Banking and Finance Commissioner Kevin Hagler and Deputy Commissioner Melissa Sneed from the Department of Banking and Finance as well as experts including Lauren Pollow, administrative director at JL Morgan Company; Tharon Johnson of Paramount Consulting Group, LLC and Jeremy Brand, a leading political strategist and partner at Parlay Political.
All stressed the importance of becoming a resource to legislators about the issues that could affect credit unions. In fact, John said he has frequently leaned on everyday people to help him understand issues on which he needs to vote.
“Have a good relationship with your legislator. Call them,” he said. “It doesn’t mean you have to take them to lunch or take them to dinner. But let them know you have issues you want them to consider. The truth is: we’re expected to come up here and be an expert on a lot of different things – and we’re not really experts on anything except what we do back home. We need input from people like you.”
That input may become especially important during the 2020 session as legislators grapple with a host of high-stakes issues that could potentially affect credit unions. For example, Lauren pointed out there’s an appetite among this delegation to take a closer look at taxation exemptions – a proclivity that could open the door for the banking lobby to scrutinize the credit union industry’s tax status.
What’s more, Georgia legislators and regulators have begun to look ahead to address questions about Cannabis banking, which could affect all financial institutions in the next couple of years.
Luckily, the LSCU & Affiliates President Jared Ross said he believes Georgia credit unions are in a positive position to deal with these upcoming issues – thanks in large part to initiatives like the state GAC.
“The lifeblood of any association is its grassroots advocates. To see so many credit union officials join us in Atlanta to bring the credit union message to the State Capitol is amazing,” Jared said. “Days like this are why credit unions have been able to be so successful bringing meaningful change to Georgia’s operating environment. I truly appreciate everyone who joined us for the State GAC and look forward to more great grassroots advocacy events.”
Florida and Alabama will host state GAC events, next. Click here for more information and to register.