Welcome to the February 2018 edition of the Michigan Priority Report.
For me, February is the toughest month of the year, sandwiched between the cold and snow of January and the promise of spring that March brings. February also brings our annual trek to Washington DC to mix it up with our federal legislators and regulators.
As you know, every February, we head to the CUNA Governmental Affairs Conference, and this year we had over 150 in the Michigan delegation—one of our highest turnouts ever!
While in Washington D.C., we focused on protecting our not-for-profit tax status, which is always a key point of discussion with our Congressional delegation members. We discussed the need for regulatory relief, which after tax reform, which remains a key unfinished agenda item for this Congress. We also continued to work on issues like national data breach legislation and the need to update the federal credit union act, which is critical for the long-term health of the dual chartering system.
While Hill visits to Congressional offices are an important part of any trip to Washington D.C., we also always take the chance to meet with key regulators. We met with NCUA Chairman Mark McWatters and discussed a variety of issues including Michigan impacts associated with the realignment of NCUA regions, and needed improvements in the NCUA complaint-handling process. We also discussed upcoming credit union insurance fund dividends.
We also met with the CFPB to discuss the need for the bureau to exercise its exemption authority to make sure its rules aren’t unnecessarily burdening credit unions. We also covered their upcoming regulatory agenda and flagged them on several regulations that need to be clarified so credit unions can better understand what’s needed for compliance.
Our own Michigan GAC is just around the corner in Lansing on April 18 and 19. CUNA Chief Advocacy Officer Ryan Donovan will join us for a federal advocacy update, and we’re working to solidify sessions with representatives from DIFS, the NCUA and members of our Michigan state House and Senate. Watch for finalized details in the coming weeks.
We are close to having a State Senate hearing on data breach legislation that we’ve been working on for months As many of you know, Senator Booher recently introduced senate bills 632 and 633. These two bills, supported by both MCUL and the Michigan Bankers Association, would help to create cyber security standards as well as notification standards the retailers. In addition to providing for notice when a breach occurs, it would allow credit unions to tell members who was responsible for the causing the breach, which is an important element of mitigating reputation risk.
And as you may recall, we continue to be work with a coalition of community groups opposing the expansion of payday lending authority. Legislation introduced in June of 2017 by State Senators David Robertson and Vincent Gregory would create an entirely new act for payday lenders called the Small Loan Regulatory Act. Under the Small Loan Regulatory Act, payday lenders would be able to offer loans as high $2,500 to be repaid over a period of 24 months--with triple-digit interest rates. A consumer borrowing $2,500 and repaying it over 24 months would end up paying over $8,300—which makes this bad for Michigan families and communities and would only expose more people to the real risk of getting into a debt spiral.
On the regulatory front, MCUL continues to work on behalf of Michigan credit unions who have been targeted by California trial attorneys concerning the issue of ADA website compliance. Most credit unions have received requests for settlement, but some credit unions have actually been sued and MCUL has filed three amicus briefs in the last two months, supporting Michigan credit unions and seeking dismissal of these frivolous lawsuits.
The lawsuits claim that credit union websites are not in compliance with the ADA, which was passed in the early 1990’s, long before there WAS an internet or websites. In fact the ADA doesn’t even mention websites as a place where public accommodation is required. Unfortunately, the Department of Justice, which is responsible for providing guidance on implementing the ADA, has refused to do so, putting well-meaning credit unions looking to comply—once they know HOW to comply—in pickle. At best, we can rely on industry best practices for compliance designed to allow your website to talk to a visually or hearing impaired person’s software.
More to come as this unfolds but I strongly encourage every credit union to work with our experts at CUSG technology solutions to get your website in line with industry best practices, which should guard against litigation risks from these public interest law firms looking to make a fast buck.
Now a quick word about our 2018 statewide cooperative advertising campaign, which has kicked off across the state. The theme this year and next focuses on "Strength in Our Numbers" and the campaign began advertising in January with streaming video, cable television, streaming radio and digital advertising.
To help credit unions leverage the CU Link’s multimillion dollar annual spend, our communications team recently launched a new and easy-to-use CU Link integration portal – you can visit that now at MCUL.org/Integration.
These integration dollars are provided—when available through CUSG profitability—as an incentive to full fair share contributors to tie their own brand messaging to the overall state campaign, thereby amplifying the messages. New this year and next, we’ll be providing a wide range of brand integration options to through Focus IQ, GSTV and CubeTV. From digital media buying to video shorts to specialty items, there will be great choices for every full fair share credit union, regardless of size or location.
With spring in the air, our Spring Leadership Development Conference, which provides great education and networking for Michigan credit union directors, committee members, and CEO’s is almost here. This year’s conference is being held at the Soaring Eagle Casino and Resort in Mt. Pleasant April 27 to 29. Session highlights include Top 10 Compliance Issues for Boards, Human Resources and Healthcare Compliance, Board Succession Planning at its Simplest and Finest, Split-Dollar Arrangements: A Primer for Board Members and Bank Secrecy Act training. Board members and volunteers will want to mark your calendars and join us for this excellent event, which features plenty of networking time in addition to the education offerings.
And everyone knows that the AC&E is right around the corner in June. This year we’ll be in beautiful Traverse City and as always, we’ve got a great lineup of speakers, hot topics and plenty of networking opportunities. Make sure to visit the event registration site now, as space at area hotels are filling up for this popular event.
Taking a look at CUSG, our team has been hard at work focusing on rolling out two products here in Michigan and nationally—Lifesteps Wallet and Planning Pro. Lifesteps wallet is suite of mobile banking enhancements designed to position credit unions top of wallet and top of mind with members. It’s designed to work with and enhance the credit union’s mobile banking experience and provide members with a wide range of supporting tools that enrich and enhance your member’s mobile banking experience. We’ve had a lot of excitement around this unique product and what it can do to enhance the credit union member mobile banking experience.
PlanningPro is a resource that helps credit unions organize, build and track strategic and operational plans. It’s a versatile product that can help CEOs and management teams monitor the progress of their plans in a more collaborative and efficient way. It generates simple and effective reports that credit union executives can leverage to make powerful impressions – particularly in board meetings.
Our Sprint discount program was very strong throughout 2017 and is off to a great start in 2018. We have been especially pleased with the new Sprint offer, which has deposited over $32 million into the accounts of 438,000 member accounts since Jan. 1, 2017. Continuing to grow the Sprint program continues to be a top priority and in you don’t currently offer this discount to your members we invite you to consider working with us to get you onboard.
And with tax season is underway, CUSG and credit unions are busy promoting new features and benefits with the Love My Credit Union Rewards TurboTax discount. This season, 99 new credit unions have enrolled in the TurboTax program representing just shy of two million members! This brings the total number of members eligible for the TurboTax discount to more than 47 million.
We’ve covered a lot of ground in this Priority Report.
If you’d like to follow up with me on anything that you’ve heard, don’t hesitate to contact me for more information.
Thank you once again for joining us. We’ll see you next month.