Banking services for legal marijuana businesses and increased access to municipal deposits were the primary issues of the day when the Northwest Credit Union Association held its annual Credit Union Day at the Washington Capitol earlier this week.

The NWCUA delivered a message that marijuana banking is a “public safety issue,” and noted three Washington credit unions have accepted the regulatory risks of banking legal cannabusinesses. Those three credit unions, the league said in a statement, “are making communities safer by protecting hundreds of millions in cash from crime risks and securing those funds in credit union accounts. SB 5928 and HB 2098 will exempt financial institutions that provide services to legal marijuana-related businesses, researchers, armored car services, and laboratories, from any state criminal law.”

On the municipal deposits issue, the NWCUA is lobbying against the current cap of $250,000. The league distributed a “one sheet” to Washington legislators, urging them to vote yes on a bill that would allow credit unions to accept unlimited municipal deposits.

“Local governments are entrusted to be the custodians and stewards of municipal dollars—taxpayers’ money,” lawmakers were told by the NWCUA. “They are uniquely qualified to decide which financial institutions are best able to meet their financial needs. They need choice in the marketplace, to ensure they are depositing in institutions that offer the best rate of return on taxpayer’s money. Washington State’s $250,000 cap limits public entities’ ability to make a competitive choice. SHB/1209 will create more choice for local governments, will offer taxpayer savings, and will increase competition in the market. Washington’s member-driven, well-capitalized credit unions are a sound investment for local municipalities’ public funds deposits.”

“By limiting choice and access for those municipalities looking to bank public deposits with a local financial institutions you inadvertently pick ‘winners and losers,’” the one sheet concluded.

Obsession, you’re my obsession

The NWCUA also took the occasion to make sure Washington lawmakers understand how popular credit unions are in the Evergreen State.

The league pointed out some 3.6 million consumers – 50 percent of the population in Washington – are members of local credit unions.

“Credit unions don’t pay stockholders on Wall St.; they reinvest in their members,” legislators were told in a release. “Last year, Washington credit unions returned $369 million to their members in the form of better loan rates, returns on savings, and other perks. That made a difference of over $100 for each and every member. No wonder they’re #CUobsessed.”

The Northwest Credit Union Association is the not-for-profit trade association representing more than 180 credit unions in Idaho, Oregon and Washington, and their 6.5 million consumer members.

A group shot of representatives from the Northwest Credit Union Association during the league's 2018 Credit Union Day at the Washington Capitol.
A group shot of representatives from the Northwest Credit Union Association during the league's 2018 Credit Union Day at the Washington Capitol.

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