The state Senate Democratic majority: What it means for New York CUs

New York State Capitol Building, Albany

With Democrats taking over the majority in the state Senate at the start of the next legislative session, the New York Credit Union Association is hopeful long-stalled legislation will advance through the chamber. The Senate Democratic Conference is often ideologically aligned with the credit union mission of helping people of modest means and providing small businesses with access to credit.

New York state Senate Democrats have expressed strong interest and support for credit unions in the past and have signaled a desire to help credit unions reach more underserved New Yorkers. In particular, members of the conference have stated that they view credit unions as an alternative to check cashers and payday lenders, which often employ predatory practices and keep people in a cycle of debt.

Additionally, Democrats have shown significantly more support than their Republican counterparts when it comes to authorizing credit unions to accept public deposits.

Senate Majority Leader-elect Andrea Stewart-Cousins, D-Westchester-Rockland, has remained a supporter of credit unions and has expressed a strong interest in working with the Association to advance municipal deposits legislation.

The appointment of Sen. James Sanders Jr., D-Metropolitan, as chairman of the Senate Banks Committee is also seen as a positive development. Sanders, the former ranking member on the committee, is considered a knowledgeable and experienced lawmaker with respect to credit union issues. A longtime credit union champion, Sanders has previously been the prime sponsor of legislation that would authorize credit unions to accept municipal deposits and allow credit unions to participate in the Banking Development District Program – both priority issues for the state’s credit unions.

Significantly, Sanders held a hearing in June 2018 to explore the Community Reinvestment Act modernization in response to the U.S. Treasury Department’s recommendations. He did not suggest applying the CRA to credit unions, but emphasized that more needs to be accomplished to increase lending in low-to-moderate income communities.

“The New York Credit Union Association looks forward to working with the new Senate Democratic majority in the 2019 legislative session,” said Michael Lieberman, Association VP of governmental affairs. “We will strive to achieve our mutual goals of bringing low-cost banking services to New York’s unbanked and underbanked populations, expanding access to financial education, and helping provide access to credit to people and businesses in New York’s most vulnerable communities.”

The first day of session is Jan. 9. Click here to view the 2019 legislative session calendar.

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