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From The Keys To Best Practices To Practices In Key(Stone)

Practice may make perfect, but it's not perfection we're looking for. Instead, the Credit Union Journal is now calling for entries into our Third Annual Best Practices Awards program, which has developed into one of the most widely recognized forums for the sharing of practices worthy of emulation within the credit union community. It's all about ideas. From the Credit Union Journal's inception, readers have consistently indicated they are in search of new ideas and new ways of doing things at their credit unions-especially if it can be implemented at a very low cost. Peers have always been the best teachers, and the Journal's Best Practices issue has become something of a University of Cool Stuff.

In our 2006 Best Practices Award, nearly two-dozen different programs and ideas were featured, ranging from web-based management tools that were developed in-house, to the development of internal succession strategies, mobile branches, money-saving web portals, student branches, scam detection, disaster recovery, account opening strategies, mortgage lending, and much more.

The best part? We leave much of the criteria in terms of what comprises a best practice up to you, our readers. The reason is that it's impossible for any publication to know all of the thousands of procedures and practices within any credit union.

Moreover, overly formal entry requirements discourage folks from taking time to enter. We don't want that-we encourage you to take a few moments and share a practice you've developed within your credit union. Details can be found at right, above. We look forward to hearing from you. As reported in the Credit Union Journal May 14, there's a case now before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court that could have implications for state charters across the U.S., as it involves an exemption from state taxes on income.

Mike Wishnow, a spokesperson for the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association, noted that while the PCUA is confident in the credit union case, even a victory before the highest court in the Keystone State may not mean an end to the bankers' lawsuits. That's because the Supreme Court didn't hear all four counts in the case; one count (uniformity) remains before an appellate court. "So even if we should win on these three counts, the banks may have a second chance at a bite at the apple," Wishnow said.

Wishnow said that as it stands, it appears any of three things could happen.

* The court could affirm the lower court decision.

* The court could say that since the uniformity issue is still out there, we're going to send it back until the appellate court rules on that issue.

* The court could rule in favor of the bankers' arguments that state-charters should be sending an income tax payment to Harrisburg.

"Everyone believes that is the least likely to happen, even the bankers," said Wishnow.

Still the case is attracting a lot of attention even from outside of credit unions. Wishnow said the case, in which the Department of Revenue is one of the defendants, is the first litigation on the question in Pennsylvania since 1926, proving the best career in credit unions (and banks) is as a trade association lawyer.

Frank J. Diekmann can be reached at fdiekmann<at>cujournal.com.

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