This week marks the 20th anniversary of the signing of HR 1151 – a historic piece of legislation that allowed credit unions to serve multiple membership groups.
The Credit Union Membership Access Act marked the culmination of a yearslong legal challenge from the bank lobby, who argued that NCUA overstepped its authority in granting AT&T Family Credit Union permission to serve multiple employer groups.
After the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the bankers, the credit union movement set out to change the law. With the support of key New Yorkers in Congress, on Aug. 7, 1998, President Bill Clinton signed HR 1151 into law.
The New York credit union movement played a key role in the landmark victory. In a recent interview with CUNA News, New York Credit Union Association President/CEO William J. Mellin told the outlet that he was concerned at the time with the weakening of the credit union charter, but also excited by the grassroots momentum building around HR 1151.
“The coordination of unifying the credit union movement, chartering buses down to Washington, D.C., from every corner of New York, and planning our trip to the Capitol was an incredibly exciting time,” Mellin told CUNA.
Mellin also pointed out the important role that then Sen. Alfonse D’Amato, R-NY, played in the bill’s passage.
“Sen. D’Amato, as chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, was vital in advancing the legislation and bringing it to the floor,” Mellin said. “The New York credit union movement’s close relationship with the senator proved to be an important factor in the bill’s passage.”
He also told CUNA that in addition to securing a crucial legislative victory, the credit union movement also learned valuable lessons in the wake of the law’s passage.
“The credit union movement is extraordinarily powerful when we speak with a strong, united voice,” said Mellin. “But just as important, we learned that we can never give in and never give up on our advocacy initiatives. We have to stay on guard and keep fighting to preserve our movement.”
To view the complete interview, visit the CUNA News website.