Greetings and Happy President’s Day week! For those that really know their history, the official birthday for one of our greatest leaders, George Washington, is actually tomorrow, February 22. (This is easy for me to remember as I just happen to share the same birthday as our first president.)
Most of us are familiar with Washington’s beloved Mount Vernon Estate, where the president farmed, grew tobacco, raised livestock, and ran a fishing operation on the Potomac. However, Washington’s most profitable enterprise was as a distiller of Rye. He produced more 11,000 gallons in 1799 – making his operation the largest whisky distillery in America. George Washington’s Distillery continues to use the original recipe which is distilled and bottled by hand near Mount Vernon. Pictured is a batch that was distilled in 2020 and bottled in 2022. The value at the time of purchase was $250. Happy birthday Mr. President!
Bills that impact credit unions move on in North Dakota Legislative Session
Things in the North Dakota Capitol are progressing as lawmakers scramble to get bills through their respective chambers. This Friday marks Crossover Day in Bismarck, meaning bills that have passed either the Senate or the House will cross the hall for another committee hearing and floor debate.
We have 26 bills on our tracking report, which you can find here. Of those, 14 bills pass are still under consideration, 7 have been defeated, and 5 will get voted on this week.
Our credit union FOM modernization bill, SB 2266 was introduced in the House, and we are awaiting our hearing before the House Industry and Business Committee. We anticipate that date to be the second or third week of March. Meanwhile, please focus your grassroots contact efforts on members of the House.
Another bill that will have impact on credit unions if passed this session is SB 2217: Relating to the calculation of interchange fees for electronic payment transactions; and to provide a penalty. We oppose this bill.
The bill’s supporters claim that they are acting on behalf of the state’s retailers and small businesses. However, this bill would be a damaging, costly tax on those small businesses that they are trying to help, and the tax would likely be passed on to North Dakota consumers.
Explaining the interchange process is complicated. Currently, a transaction gets processed as a full amount, including all taxes. That amount is transferred across the payment network (Visa, Mastercard, American Express, or Discover) to the financial institution (FI) that issued the consumer’s credit card. The FI then transfers the payment in full across the same payment network to the FI that the merchant uses. There is no mechanism to slice and dice transactions as they are processed between financial institutions.
The bill passed the Senate by a slim 4-vote margin. If passed in the House, major changes would have to be made to the existing electronic payments infrastructure at a significant and unknown costs. Ultimately, those costs would be passed on to the small businesses and taxpayers across the state. Now is not the time, with a potential recession looming, for a new hidden tax on small businesses in our state.
This bill is part of a broader effort by mega retailers across the country to reduce interchange fees and process credit card transactions across less secure alternative networks. If successful, consumers stand to lose more than $50 billion in benefits like cash back and rewards programs. Interchange fees subsidize many things for consumers including rewards programs, cash back, enhanced network security, and fraud protection.
If Senate Bill 2217 were to pass, small businesses and consumers in the state would face higher costs. Republicans in the legislature should not pursue policies that hurt North Dakotans during a time of economic volatility. We anticipate that the hearing for this bill will take place in early March.
Summit Keynote Announced!
Today, I am thrilled to reveal that Kat Perkins, a native of Scranton, North Dakota and a finalist on The Voice will be a Summit Keynote Speaker this year! As you may recall from the show, she was mentored by Adam Levine and climbed her way all the way up to fourth place! She now resides in Minneapolis and continues to tour, besides founding The Rising Star Foundation and holding her own music camp in the badlands of Medora, North Dakota each summer. Music and education are her passion, and now she is ready to inspire and entertain our credit union audience during our 2023 Annual Summit at the Delta Marriott in Fargo, ND on May 9 – 10. Registration is open!
Dakota CEOs to be recognized with Hall of Leaders Award
Can you believe we are less than a week away from heading to the CUNA GAC in Washington? We have a great Dakota delegation this year, with more than 30 credit union professionals from North and South Dakota heading to our nation’s capital for the biggest credit union event of the year.
I am also very pleased to share that this year, we have two credit union CEOs being recognized with the Credit Union House “Hall of Leaders” award: Paul J. Brucker, Railway CU (Mandan, ND) and Melanie Stillwell, Western Cooperative CU (Williston, ND).
This is a unique and special designation that pays tribute to those who have made a significant impact on the credit union movement at the local, state, or national level. Paul and Melanie will have their names prominently displayed on the second floor of Credit Union House to be viewed by all who visit the facility, including members of Congress, distinguished credit union leaders, and thousands of annual visitors. Watch for a full Memo story with photos next week!
Operation Postcard Underway
Last week, we announced “Operation Postcard” to our North Dakota credit unions. In a nutshell, we are going to flood ND legislators with postcards urging them to “vote yes on SB 2266” – our field of membership modernization bill. Once you receive your supply of postcards, we encourage you to set up a table inside your credit union in a visible location and encourage your members to fill out a pre-addressed postcard. You can mail each one separately, or send them in bulk, or if you wish, you can drop them off at the DakCU Bismarck office at 2005 N. Kavaney and we will deliver them for you! Let’s show our legislators how important this issue is to our North Dakota credit unions and members. Feel free to contact Lindsey Hefta if you need more postcards or have any questions.
Have a great week,
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