We haven't talked much about H. 410 - Credit Union "Updates" in the last few weeks. Why? Well, in case you haven't noticed, the State Legislature and the Governor have recently been wrestling with several important and highly controversial pieces of major legislation. Definitely a tough session all the way around.
But listening to SECU COO Leigh Brady's presentation to SEANC*, over the weekend, brought H. 410 back to mind. Have already mentioned her remarks that "H. 410 was not our bill", SECU is just "trying to help out other credit unions". Many folks involved with H. 410 will find that to be an "incredible" comment and surprise! Guess Ms. Brady believes that no one will notice SECU's fingerprints all over the creation of H. 410...and the purposeful misrepresentation of H. 410 to the Legislature and especially to its primary sponsors Representative Howard and House Majority Leader John Bell IV.
In her SEANC presentation Ms.Brady finally acknowledged, although obliquely, one of the many, misleading fictions encompassed within H. 410, that state-chartered credit unions actually have had authority to offer safe deposit boxes for decades. Sounds minor doesn't it, but take a look at how the bill was presented to our legislators (verbatim from the H. 410 bill digest):
· Expands the scope of financial services that a credit union can offer beyond travelers checks and money orders so that a credit union may also offer other negotiable instruments, electronic transfer of funds, safe deposit boxes, custodial services, and correspondent services, and charge a reasonable fee for these services. Also lifts the condition that the travelers checks/money orders sold by the credit union are payable at other institutions than a credit union.
The truth is that state-chartered credit unions have long been able and are offering these services to North Carolina members.
SECU's Ms. Brady clarified that credit unions would no longer "have to ask permission" of the state credit union regulator to offer this service - which they already offer! Several of the seemingly unimportant provisions in H. 410 seek to do two things: 1) bypass the credit union state regulator's review and scrutiny and 2) bypass the State Legislature's review and scrutiny through the enhanced "federal parity" provision.
Given the recent collapse of three very large U.S. banks - Silicon Valley Bank, Signature, and First Republic, - does the State Legislature really want to give up review, scrutiny, and control of North Carolina's state-chartered credit unions? Is being sure that North Carolina's credit unions are operating in the best interest of North Carolinians no longer important?
So what does this have to do with Majority leader John Bell IV? Mr. Bell is a North carolina political leader of much promise and prominence. His sponsorship of H. 410 is a powerful endorsement, hard to ignore by his colleagues. And, with H. 410 potentially "on the ropes" in the Senate, Mr. Bell's emissaries are working hard to apply pressure to folks to salvage it.
It should be noted that Mr. Bell is from Goldsboro, has worked for a local credit union in the past, and even sits on the advisory board of the SECU Wayne Memorial branch (check it out on the SECU website). One would think that Representative Bell would be well aware that many of the provisions of H. 410 are fictions. I believe the more likely scenario is that Representative John Bell IV has been led down the primrose path by folks he thought he could trust. Guess it isn't SECU, since according to Ms. Brady, H. 410 "is not our bill". Must be that rascal with the Carolinas Credit Union League (CCUL)!
Mr. Bell is an experienced, well-respected political leader - with future political ambitions, which appears promising for North Carolina. Lots of folks in Wayne County are state workers - O'Berry/Cherry are still major employers, public school employees, and their families. Most are SECU members and will suffer negative consequences if H. 410 passes.
H. 410 is John Bell IV's bill - no "ducking" that. Folks in the future - all across North Carolina - will remember that, count on it!
...when you find yourself in a hole, you might consider to quit digging.
* State Employees Association of North Carolina