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Special Edition of Capitol Eyes: 2020 Advocacy in Review

Cap Eyes 4.30.20
Dec 31, 2020
By Tom Harrington
  • Advocacy

Your Commitment & Contributions were Critical in a Challenging and Unpredictable Year

As 2020 comes to an end, it is clear credit unions continue to play a vital role for Wisconsinites and their communities. Be proud of the work you've done in 2020. The Credit Union Difference, how The Movement stepped up to meet ever-changing needs, was proven--again and again --to be worthy of protecting and promoting.

Together, we have an important story to tell in 2021.

In the interim, THANK YOU for your advocacy efforts in 2020. Take a moment to look back at the collaborative efforts of Activists, The League, and system partners in 2020.

Engagement When It Matters Most

In meetings, in person and virtually, Activists discussed key issues impacting The Movement and credit unions' ability to serve members. The industry is better off thanks to the quick-to-act and dedicated participation of Activists throughout the pandemic.

COVID-19 Response and Economic Recovery Policy Advocacy

From the first days of the pandemic in March, Activists worked with state and federal legislators to ensure credit unions could continue to meet member and business needs, through:

  • Measured regulatory relief, and
  • Expanded opportunities - including Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans.

Often on short notice, Activists provided feedback, ideas, and requests, proving effective in collaborations with other trade associations, the NCUA and Office of Credit Unions, members of Congress and state legislature, and Governor Evers.

Importantly, Activists highlighted how credit unions contributed in substantial ways - living out their 'people before profit' philosophy.

COVID-19 Response Infographic >>

Combating Student Debt

Over the summer, The Governor's Task Force on Student Debt prepared a comprehensive report addressing the growing student debt crisis in Wisconsin. Governor Evers appointed UW Credit Union President & CEO, Paul Kundert, to the task force. Kundert, who also serves on The League's Government Affairs Committee and CUNA's Advocacy Committee, represented credit unions' interests throughout the task force's activities.

View the Governor's Task Force on Student Debt final report >>

The League and Other Trade Associations Advocate for Data Security

Created in the summer of 2019, the Data Privacy & Security Advisory Committee (DPSAC) aimed to improve data privacy and security laws in Wisconsin. Christopher Hefter, Chief Information Officer at Summit Credit Union, served on behalf of the credit union Movement.

The League, along with other Wisconsin trade associations, submitted a letter to the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) outlining priorities and concerns on discussed policies.

Data Privacy and Security Advisory Committee (DPSAC) Letter >>

Credit Unions Honored with Governor's Financial Literacy Awards

In February, Governor Evers honored over a dozen individuals, businesses, and organizations with the 2019 Governor's Financial Literacy Awards. Altra Federal Credit Union, Educators Credit Union, and Summit Credit Union were among the recipients. Highlighting these REAL Solutions, as this recognition does, effectively promotes the Credit Union Difference.


The League, CUNA, and System Partners Have You Covered

The League, CUNA, and system partners analyzed and monitored thousands of pages of proposed legislation in order to ensure credit union interests were considered by policymakers.

Guidance from The League's Government Affairs Committee and engaged Activists was key.

Our collective efforts in 2020 addressed, but were not limited to, the following:

  • Credit union state statute modernizations - in a stand alone bill
  • Preservation of credit unions' tax status
  • Financial elder abuse
  • Access to personal protective equipment
  • Additional funding for PPP loans
  • Not classifying PPP loans as taxable income
  • Automated or simplified PPP loan forgiveness
  • Grants for financial literacy programs in schools
  • Essential worker status for credit union employees
  • COVID-19 vaccine access for essential workers
  • Access to credit for small businesses impacted by COVID-19
  • Placement & operation of ATMs 
  • Bank sales to credit unions
  • Telephone robocalls
  • Remote and electronic online notarization
  • Extend Troubled Debt Restructuring (TDR)
  • Payday lending
  • Community Development Financial Institution Fund
  • Establishment of a Housing Assistance Fund
  • Liability protection for credit unions, related to COVID-19
  • Student loans and student loan refinancing
  • Enactment of a Community Capital Improvement Program
  • Extension of Central Liquidity Facility (CLF)
  • Member Business Lending (MBL)
  • National data security and privacy
  • Tax-advantaged savings accounts for people with disabilities (ABLE accounts)
  • Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)
  • Exempt business loans made to veterans from the business lending cap
  • Military Lending Act payday loan protections for all consumers
  • Financial institutions' ability to serve cannabis businesses
  • Housing finance reform

Activists in Action: Building Valuable Working Relationships

Activists connected with key policymakers at a number of events in 2020. And, when in-person events were canceled, Activists adapted to ensure credit unions maintained a high level of engagement and influence.

Activists connected with key policymakers at:

  • Meet & Greets
  • State GAC
  • The League's Virtual Hike the Hill
  • Chapter legislative nights
  • In-person and virtual fundraisers
  • On the Governor's Taskforces
  • Virtual Townhalls
  • Stakeholder meetings on policy with NCUA, OCU, Wisconsin agencies, members of Congress, and Governor Evers

2020 Grassroots and Fundraising: By the Numbers


  • 2,800+ contacts made to state & federal lawmakers, plus hundreds of hours preparing materials & strategy to make the contacts more effective.
  • 1,200+ trained Activists safeguarded credit union member interests.
  • 300+ hours spent by lobbyists on behalf of credit unions.
  • 300+ State GAC attendees.
  • 50+ CUNA GAC attendees.
  • 70+ participated in this year's Hike the Hill, a record breaking attendance - including many first time attendees.


  • Activists contributed a record breaking $194,764 to state-level candidates through WCULAF and their individual CU Members’ Conduit Accounts this election cycle.
  • 96% of Members’ Conduit authorizations, WCULAF, and CULAC dollars went to winning candidates.
  • 183 campaigns supported by WCULAF and authorizations from CU Members' Conduit Account holders.
  • Nearly $4,000 raised in support of WCULAF during the Trivia Night at the State GAC.

Making Credit Union Regulatory Positions Known

In 2020, The League and CUNA ensured credit union interests were conveyed in comment letters on a variety of topics and regulations, including but not limited to:

  • CPFB’s Reg. E Remittance Transfer Rule
  • NCUA’s Residential Real Estate Appraisal Threshold
  • NCUA’s Combination Transactions with Non-Credit Unions
  • NCUA’s Joint Ownership Share Accounts
  • Federal Reserve Board’s elimination of Reg. D
  • NCUA’s proposed rulemaking on subordinated debt
  • NCUA’s corporate credit union governing
  • CFPB’s Qualified Mortgage Proposal 

Please continue sharing your feedback with The League in 2021 as part of our Comment Call process!

Congratulations on a Job Well Done!

You Strengthened The Movement

Your contributions helped to ensure 3.4 million Wisconsinites who choose to belong to not-for-profit, member-owned financial institutions can continue to do so!

Facts and figures provided to lawmakers are compelling, but lawmakers continue to stress the importance of Activists' personal stories of service to their members and local communities.

2020 presented challenges and opportunities credit unions collectively rose to meet. It will continue to be those stories that showcase credit unions values. Your REAL Solutions make the biggest impressions!

Thanks to you, Wisconsin credit unions are positioned to be successful in the coming years.

About The Author

Tom Harrington is the Political & Grassroots Specialist for The Wisconsin Credit Union League.