New York Credit Union Association leaders were on hand in Albany with lawmakers Wednesday — the first day of the 2020 state legislative session — as Gov. Andrew Cuomo delivered his annual State of the State speech.
Association President/CEO William J. Mellin, Senior VP and General Counsel Henry Meier and VP of Government Affairs Kendra Rubin attended the governor’s address.
Laying out his “Making Progress Agenda,” at the Empire State Plaza Convention Center, Cuomo outlined more than 30 proposals for the legislative session, including his plan to expand financial services access, as previously reported.
Cuomo also stated that adult-use recreational marijuana would be legalized in 2020, a move the legislature failed to accomplish in 2019. Ensuring that credit unions can serve cannabis businesses in compliance with state and federal laws is among the Association’s 2020 legislative priorities.
Marijuana’s current federal Schedule I classification means that credit unions and other financial institutions can face significant legal, operational and regulatory risks by servicing marijuana-related businesses and their affiliates.
“Although the Association has no position on marijuana legalization, we are hopeful that credit unions and other financial institutions will be able to access and serve the cannabis industry where it is legal,” said Mellin.
Cuomo touted a variety of other proposals, including social initiatives, health care and expanded education programs and proposed tax cuts for small businesses and middle class New Yorkers. However, with the state already facing a $6.1 billion deficit, it is not clear which of the governor’s wish-list items will take precedent as the executive chamber and legislative branch enter into budget negotiations.
The Association intends to review any legislative actions that may impact credit unions to ensure that they are in the best interest of the credit union movement. The Association’s No. 1 priority for the 2020 session is protecting the credit union tax status at both the state and federal levels.
Other top Association priorities in 2020 include authorizing credit unions to accept public deposits and legislation that would require all entities handling consumer information to comply with comprehensive data security standards.
“The Association remains committed to advocating credit union interests during the 2020 legislative session and beyond, and we will continue to share the credit union difference with legislators,” said Mellin.
Readers can learn more about the Association’s 2020 legislative priorities and advocacy agenda, which 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.