Here’s what’s in store for the 2020 state legislative session

New York State Capitol in Albany

Despite a variety of factors that could pose challenges for lawmakers, individuals and organizations with stakes in the outcome of the 2020 New York state legislative session, the New York Credit Union Association plans, as usual, to advocate for credit unions and the nearly six million consumers they serve.

“We’ll plan on advocating for the credit union movement to the best of our ability as we always do, and will continue to share the credit union difference with the newer members of the Legislature,” said Kendra Rubin, the Association’s VP of governmental affairs.

The challenge most likely to impact the Association’s lobbying efforts is the abbreviated session calendar for 2020, Rubin said. Legislators are currently scheduled to be in session in Albany for 57 days in 2020, which is four fewer days than in 2019.

The state primaries were moved to coincide with the federal primary on June 23, 2020. As a result, the legislative session — which normally ends in mid- to late-June — is now scheduled to end on June 2. This means more work will be getting done earlier in the year, but the Association will be prepared to hit the ground running on Jan. 8, when the legislature comes back to Albany, Rubin said.

“Regardless, we look forward to working with our partners in government toward a productive session for the credit union movement,” Rubin added, saying that the upcoming legislative session “will prove interesting—as sessions always do. They’re all always a little different and never quite pan out exactly as expected, which is part of the excitement.”

2020 will be the second year in a row that Democrats hold majorities in both the state Assembly and Senate. Rubin said that the Association will not drastically change its lobbying efforts from last year. And with 2020 an election year, all of New York’s 213 legislative seats are up for election in November.

Additionally, a $6.1 billion projected state budget deficit in 2020 could pose hurdles, as well as opportunities, to lawmakers and organizations advocating for their respective interests. Every piece of legislation is likely to be closely scrutinized, as the governor and legislators look to determine how to close the gaping shortfall.

Finally, “holdover” issues from the 2019 session are likely to play a central role in the upcoming session. One item of note, the legalization of adult-use recreational marijuana, poses a number of uncertainties for the business community, including credit unions, which will have to grapple with the legality of providing services to marijuana-related businesses. The Association remains highly engaged on the issue of cannabis banking and is exploring all avenues to ensure New York’s credit unions are able to serve the industry.

As for the Association’s top advocacy priority of maintaining the credit union tax status, there has not been a direct threat to the credit union tax status in New York in recent years. However, several other states, most notably Iowa and Kansas, have seen significant legislative battles over credit unions’ tax status. This indicates that the bank lobby continues to focus on a state-by-state approach in an effort to impose taxes on credit unions, even following decades of unsuccessful attempts at the federal level, Rubin explained.

The 2020 legislative priorities and advocacy agenda of the Association was put forth by the Association’s Governmental Affairs Committee, based on responses to a membership-wide survey conducted earlier this year. The Association’s board of directors approved the agenda during its board meeting in early December.

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