2019 legislative recap: BDD bill passes, municipal deposits advances further than ever

GAC 2017 Capitol

The 2019 session of the New York State Legislature came to a close early Friday morning, June 21.

As a result of the New York Credit Union Association’s advocacy, the Senate and Assembly both passed an important bill allowing credit unions to participate in the state’s Banking Development District Program for the first time since the program was created in 1997. The legislation, S.727-A/A.3320, was introduced and sponsored by Sen. Velmanette Montgomery, D-Metropolitan, and Assembly Banks Committee Chairman Kenneth Zebrowski, D-Westchester-Rockland.

Passage of the legislation was among the New York Credit Union Association’s priorities for 2019 and represents a major legislative victory for the state’s credit unions.

The BDD Program was created to encourage financial institutions to establish branches in economically distressed communities throughout New York where there is a demonstrated need for banking services. Institutions that are approved for a BDD designation are eligible to receive up to $10 million in subsidized public deposits and other benefits, including below market-rate deposits from New York state.

If signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the legislation would mark the first time in state history that credit unions are eligible to receive public deposits.

The Association also worked tirelessly on municipal deposits legislation this session. The bill, unfortunately, came just short of getting passed. The unprecedented engagement by the Association and member credit unions advanced the bill further than ever. While the bills were not brought to the floor for a vote, where it is believed to have had the support to pass, municipal deposits remains an important legislative priority, and the Association will continue to work with lawmakers on the legislation.

The legalization of recreational marijuana did not pass in the legislature this year, and it will likely be a priority for lawmakers in the 2020 legislative session year, though the Association has no position on the matter. However, the Association strongly supports legislation at the federal level that would provide a safe harbor for financial institutions, including credit unions, serving marijuana businesses in states where it is legal to do so. As legal hemp and cannabis companies continue to expand, the Association remains committed to ensuring credit unions are able effectively serve this industry.

Separately, changing the state’s approach to sexual harassment remains a work in progress for state lawmakers. Back in February, lawmakers held the Legislature’s first hearing on sexual harassment since 1992. Ultimately, no new measures were passed by the Legislature, but Cuomo said he will support any bills that would strengthen the state’s sexual harassment laws heading into next year’s legislative session.

“The 2019 legislative session was extremely productive for the New York credit union movement,” said Association President/CEO William J. Mellin. “Passage of the Banking Development Districts bill was a major legislative victory for the state’s credit unions, and our progress on the municipal deposits legislation was unprecedented. As a movement, we have plenty to be proud of. The Association already has our sights set on the 2020 session. We remain committed to building on the advances made this year and will continue to engage key stakeholders in state government throughout the summer.”

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