November Advocacy Update
Dear Credit Union Leader,
On the heels of a tumultuous November General Election, we are all still anxiously but patiently awaiting the resolution. While everyone is aware of where the Presidential race stands, I wanted to highlight a few other results here in Michigan in case you’ve missed prior updates. U.S. Sen. Gary Peters defeated his challenger, and we are confident he will continue to be a strong and effective voice for credit unions in Michigan and nationally. Our U.S. House of Representatives delegation welcomes two new members – Lisa McClain succeeding retiring U.S. Rep. Paul Mitchell in the 10th District, and Peter Meijer replacing outgoing U.S. Rep. Justin Amash in the 3rd District. MCUL endorsed McClain in the general election and we are very excited about her depth of knowledge and background in financial services. We did not make an endorsement in the 3rd District, but we look forward to continuing to get to know and work with Meijer. All of our other incumbent members won re-election, despite some surprisingly close races in a handful of districts. The U.S. House will remain under Democratic control, with Michigan’s U.S. House delegation returning to an even 7-7 split. It appears the balance of power in the U.S. Senate will come down to runoff elections in Georgia after the beginning of the year. Current projections have that chamber sitting at 50-48 Republican, waiting on results for the Georgia pair.
The entire state House of Representatives also stood for election this year, with many seats open due to term limits. Republicans fended off challenges in several seats to retain their current 58-52 majority. That number was arrived at despite both sides winning two seats from the other. MCUL endorsed in 83 of these races, losing only the two incumbent members’ contests for another very high success rate. Democrat-nominated Michigan Supreme Court candidates won both seats on the ballot for that panel. Chief Justice Bridget Mary McCormack was re-elected, and Elizabeth Welch emerged as the winner to replace retiring Justice Stephen Markman. This will move the state’s high court from its current 4-3 conservative philosophical majority to a 4-3 liberal philosophical balance.
Barring any legal challenges, Michigan’s county canvass will be completed by Nov. 17, and the Board of State Canvassers is expected to meet on or near Nov. 23.
Elections aside, here are the updates you need for November:
The state legislature has now entered its “lame duck” period, but action prior to the Thanksgiving holiday has been limited and both chambers are now out until December. Given the short time frame left in the year, looming policy debates over mask mandates and gubernatorial emergency powers, and increasing COVID-19 pressures, it remains to be seen whether enough time will remain in the session for very much. However, our Advocacy Team continues to work on the various issues remaining on our agenda.
We have been focused recently on SB 464-65 and 862, legislation that would require financial institutions to have a policy on training and reporting of member financial exploitation. The bills will also provide tools, protections, and immunities for financial institutions that will assist them in protecting members and vastly improve transparency and communication back to us from law enforcement and APS. The bill represents a year of work and compromise with the bankers, the AG’s Office, DIFS, law enforcement, judges, and prosecutors. If enacted, it will not be effective for nine months, giving the industry sufficient time to draft a model policy for credit unions to use. Last year, AARP also offered its training program free to all credit unions nationally through CUNA. The Senate Insurance and Banking Committee is expected to move the bills forward after the Thanksgiving Holiday.
Our team also continues to monitor HB 5097, which would allow payday lenders to offer small-dollar installment loans, and HB 4186-87, on data breach notification. Both have passed the House and are pending before the Senate Regulatory Reform Committee. DIFS and Governor Whitmer’s administration are still communicating opposition on the payday expansion bill to the legislature and stakeholders. Manufacturing and business trades continue their opposition to meaningful data breach reform, by pushing “poison pill” amendments to the bills aimed at financial institutions.
Important bill signings this month include HB 6294-97 by Rep. Lightner to extend the Governor’s former Executive Orders on e-notary and remote notary. Our team was heavily involved in the crafting and passage of these. Also signed were bills to extend the validity of drivers licenses and personal ID cards. All expire again in December however, so we will be exploring the possibility of further extension in the lame duck session.
In Washington D.C., the U.S. Senate and House entered their lame duck period on Nov. 16. The chambers remain far apart on “phase four” stimulus negotiations, and it appears the Republicans in the Senate will play a stronger role in the negotiations. Both chambers have stated they want to act, but still disagree on various elements that might go into a package as well as the final price tag. We continue to advocate with our delegation on key priorities, such as PPP forgiveness and housing assistance funding, and are working hard with CUNA and the other leagues to keep pressure up.
Our Compliance Network met on Nov. 10, bringing over 110 credit union professionals together to hear from Secretary of State officials on the upcoming implementation of electronic lien termination (ELT) systems next March. Following SOS, DIFS’ OCU Director Denice Schultheiss updated the group on key concerns and what they will be focusing on in the weeks to come. If you or someone from your credit union were not able to attend, you can view the presentation at:
Patty Corkery and Amy Wargo on our team recently filmed a short video, on the compliance resources, tools and information that are available for our member credit unions. This video can be found on our Destination Compliance site and can be viewed here: https://youtu.be/CMF3MdBfw5k.
Last month, we welcomed Sean Egan, MIOSHA’s Director of COVID Workplace Safety to our monthly industry call. This month, the agency has issued a release about its renewed focus on office settings, to address the need for increased vigilance, education, and enforcement on remote work policies. (See https://www.michigan.gov/leo/0,5863,7-336-78396_78398-544922--,00.html.) While the possibility of checks by MIOSHA enforcers was raised there, it appears the state will be looking at employers in sharper focus. We do expect the goal to remain “educate over regulate” but the requirements of the MIOSHA interim rules should be taken very seriously. If your credit union encounters any issues related to MIOSHA compliance, please let our team know.
The NCUA Board meets again on Nov. 19, and will consider board briefings on the Share Insurance Fund Quarterly Report; the State of Credit Union Diversity and the 2019 Credit Diversity Self-Assessment; and the 2020 Budget Update and Reprogramming. Also on the agenda is Proposed Rule, Part 741, Appendix B, Capitalization of Interest. For anyone interested, visit the NCUA homepage (ncua.gov) and access the webcast link provided there.
MCUL is extremely excited to congratulate Kelli Etchison Ellsworth, the Chief Marketing Officer and Chief Diversity Officer of LAFCU, on her appointment to Gov. Whitmer’s new Black Leaders Advisory Council. The Council was formed to develop and recommend policies to address racial inequity in Michigan. Kelli will serve on the panel for a term expiring at the end of 2022.
We continue to work with our chapters to schedule legislative events. One silver lining of the pandemic has been the effectiveness of the virtual format for advocacy meetings, and the ability to engage more credit union leaders in highly impactful meetings with our lawmakers. While many chapters are wrapping these activities up for the year, we strongly encourage you to look ahead and begin planning for 2021. While the traditional model for these events can be useful, we are finding a great deal of success with targeted events featuring a particular state or federal lawmaker as well. For chapter leaders, please contact our Advocacy Team with any questions and to begin your planning for these critical events.
As we approach the end of the year, please be on the lookout for two important communications from our team. First, if your credit union has an expired or expiring permission agreement for our federal PAC, we will be sending the renewal form to you. As a reminder, this is merely a compliance issue for us. Filling these out does not obligate your credit union to participate in any federal PAC program. Second, participants in the state PAC’s annual lapel pin program will be receiving details for the upcoming year’s program. Looking forward, we will also be seeking ways to build on this popular program to see how we can add value for our donors and encourage more engagement, especially with the challenges of COVID-19 likely to continue.
As always, thank you for all that you do for credit unions in Michigan. If you have any questions on these or any other issues, please contact our Advocacy Team!
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