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Special Edition of Capitol Eyes: 2021 Advocacy in Review

Cap Eyes 4.30.20
Jan 07, 2022
By Tom Harrington
  • Advocacy

As 2021 comes to an end, The Credit Union Difference (how The Movement stepped up to meet ever-changing needs of members) was proven, time and time again, to be worthy of protecting and promoting. 

Together, we have an important story to share in 2022!

In the interim, THANK YOU for your advocacy efforts in this year. Take a moment to look back at the meaningful efforts of Activists, The League, and system partners in 2021.

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.

Advancing Credit Union State Statute Modernization Bill

In October, Activists from across Wisconsin attended the Assembly Committee on Financial Institutions’ hearing to support and testify in favor of AB 478 / SB 451, a bill to modernize the state statutes governing credit unions.

Activists from Westby Co-op, Prime Financial, and Royal Credit Unions testified, along with The League’s President/CEO, and CUNA’s Deputy Chief Advocacy Officer for Policy Analysis & Chief Economist. Their testimony focused on the real and positive impact the bill would have for credit unions and was bolstered by 30+ Activists present to register in favor of the bill and nearly 300 grassroots email messages sent to legislators.


The bill faces baseless but strong opposition from the Wisconsin Bankers Association. YOU can make an important contribution to this effort early in 2022 – make sure your legislators know you support credit unions and ask that they support the bill!  

Opposing Proposed IRS Reporting Requirements

Earlier this fall, Congress considered a significant increase in IRS reporting on account holder information, which credit unions strongly opposed. 

Activists reached out to members of Congress expressing concerns.  The quick action of Activists and the credit unions that proactively engaged their membership, were crucial to bring this issue to the attention of key legislators, and create a persuasive public opposition. 

Wisconsin credit union advocates sent over 24,000 messages to Congress, contributing to the 850,000+ contacts made by advocates nationwide. Activist started conversations with our delegation during The League’s fall Hike the Hill event. 

Activists’ efforts contributed to a decision by legislative leaders to ultimately stop pursuing the IRS reporting provision and remove it from the reconciliation package during negotiations. 

Public Opinion Survey Confirms Wisconsinites Value Credit Union Difference 

In an August survey, 80% of registered voters said Wisconsin credit unions should be exempt from state and federal corporate income taxes as not-for-profit cooperatives. That support is up from the 79%, when asked the same question in 2018.

The survey of voters also found that 76% of voters agreed that a new tax on cooperative credit unions would be a tax on credit union members.

Additionally, 79% of survey respondents agreed that credit unions are much more likely than banks to care about people more than profits, and 72% agreed that credit unions offer the best deals for consumers.

Read full press release >>

Credit Union House Hosts Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers

Over 40 Activists attended a fundraiser for Governor Tony Evers at the Credit Union House in Madison.  The event raised nearly $8,000 for the Governor’s reelection campaign. 

At the event, Governor Evers shared his thanks for the important role credit unions play in Wisconsin communities and his pride in the fiscal strength of the state, despite the pandemic. The event gave Activists the opportunity to chat with the state’s highest elected official and raise the issues important to them and their credit union. 

Credit Unions Honored, Again, with Governor's Financial Literacy Awards

Earlier this year, Governor Evers honored over a dozen individuals, businesses, and organizations with the 2020 Governor's Financial Literacy Awards. Educators Credit Union, the 7 Rivers Chapter of Credit Unions, and Royal Credit Union were among the recipients.

The award helps to highlight specific instances of credit unions living out their mission and putting People Before Profit. Congratulations to the participating credit unions for the honorable recognition of their contributions! 

Press Release >>

Brett Thompson and Jennifer McHugh Appointed to Governor’s Council 

In February, Brett Thompson, President & CEO of The League and Jennifer McHugh, VP of Community Engagement at Royal Credit Union, were appointed to the Governor’s Council on Financial Literacy & Capability. Brett and Jennifer’s participation on the council ensured credit unions were heard and were active advocates for the improvement in the financial wellness of Wisconsinites. 

Learn more about the Governor's Council on Financial Literacy and Capability >>

The League, CUNA, and System Partners Have You Covered

The League, CUNA, and system partners analyzed and monitored thousands of pages of proposed legislation to ensure credit union interests were considered by policymakers.
Guidance from The League's Government Affairs Committee and engaged Activists was key!

Our efforts in 2021 addressed, but were not limited to, the following:

  • Credit union state statute modernization
  • Preservation of credit unions' tax status
  • Opposing additional IRS reporting
  • Opposing negative changes to swipe/interchange fees
  • Preventing financial elder abuse
  • Tax-advantaged savings accounts for people with disabilities (ABLE accounts)
  • Diversity Equity and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives
  • Supporting cooperative feasibility studies
  • Banking deserts
  • Community Development Financial Institutions
  • Placement & operation of ATMs 
  • Bank sales to credit unions
  • Payday lending
  • Student loans and student loan refinancing
  • Member Business Lending (MBL) Rule
  • Additional pandemic recovery legislation
  • National data security and privacy standards
  • Regulatory restraint and relief
  • Affordable housing community initiatives 
  • Financial education

Activists in Action: Building Valuable Working Relationships

Activists connected with key policymakers at a number of events in 2021. Whether they were in-person or virtual, Activists elevated awareness of The Movement and credit unions' impact on members and Wisconsin communities. 

  • Activists connected with key policymakers at:
  • Credit union meet & greets
  • Virtual State GAC
  • Virtual CUNA GAC
  • The League's Virtual Hike the Hill
  • Chapter legislative nights
  • In-person and virtual fundraisers
  • Townhalls
  • Stakeholder meetings on policy with NCUA, OCU, Wisconsin agencies, members of
  • Congress, and Governor Evers

2021 Grassroots and Fundraising By the Numbers


  • 26,700+ contacts made to state & federal lawmakers on credit union state statute modernization, to oppose proposed IRS reporting requirements, and other policy priorities. 
  • 1,000+ trained Activists safeguarded credit union member interests.
  • 500+ hours spent by lobbyists on behalf of credit unions.
  • 200+ State GAC attendees
  • 100+ CUNA GAC attendees
  • 80+ Hike the Hill attendees, a record breaking attendance.


  • Activists contributed over $57,000 to state-level candidates through WCULAF and their individual CU Members’ Conduit Accounts.
  • 53 campaigns supported by WCULAF and CU Members' Conduit Account holders.
  • $9,375 raised for CULAC in the Border Battle Fundraiser with Minnesota during the 2021 CUNA GAC. 129% of the 2020 fundraising for CULAC during the CUNA GAC! 

Making Credit Union Regulatory Positions Known

In 2021, 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:

  • NCUA's CUSO lending proposal
  • CFPB's moratorium on foreclosures until 2022
  • CFPB's delay of compliance date for new general QM rule
  • NCUA's Capitalization of interest
  • OCU's clean-up of obsolete and outdated state credit union rules

Please continue sharing your feedback with The League in 2022 as part of our Comment Call process!

Congratulations on a Job Well Done!

You Strengthened The Movement
Your contributions helped to ensure the 3.5 million Wisconsinites who choose to belong to a not-for-profit, member-owned financial institution 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 members and local communities. It’s your People Before Profit Stories that make the biggest impression and ensure policymakers truly appreciate the value of supporting our Movement.  

We look forward to, together, showcasing the important work you do in 2022! 

About The Author

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