WASHINGTON – Ohio Republican Rep. Steve LaTourette, who as a little-known second-term member of Congress co-sponsored and led to passage the landmark credit union bill HR 1151, the 1998 Credit Union Membership Access Act, is retiring from Congress after nine terms.

LaTourette, a former state prosecutor, was chosen by then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich and House leaders because he was a strong credit union supporter and had no idealogical baggage, joined Democrat Paul Kanjorski of Pennsylvania to co-sponsor the bill that overturned the Supreme Court decision finding NCUA’s multiple group field of membership in violation of the Federal CU Act, which required credit unions to have a single common bond. Kanjorski himself, the most reliable credit union support in Congress, was defeated in a bid for a 14th House term in 2010.

“Before he introduced H.R. 1151 Congressman LaTourette was a little-known second term representative who hadn't carved out a niche for himself,” John McKechnie, an independent credit union lobbyist who worked for CUNA at the time, told the Credit Union Journal this morning. “But he turned out to be the indispensable man for credit unions: someone who symbolized the then-new Republican majority, who could work well across the aisle, who could be trusted by House leadership to shepherd a controversial bill through the process.”

The landmark credit union bill, which becamse known by its legislative identification, HR 1151, reversed the 1996 Supreme Court decision by formalizing NCUA's multiple groups policy, duplicated in all of the states, thus allowing credit unions to add unrelated select groups to their fields of membership. The bill overwhelmingly passed Congress and was signed into law in August 1998 by President Bill Clinton.

Though he never again played a major role for credit union legislation after that, LaTourette was always a reliable vote and he signed on as co-sponsor to many credit union bills, including the CU Regulatory Improvements Act and numerous efforts to raise the member business loan cap.

 

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