Florida credit unions announce 2015 legislative agenda

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Financial literacy and banking choice lead the agenda for Florida’s largest credit union trade group, which Tuesday unveiled its legislative game plan for the 2015 session.

Florida Credit Union Association (FCUA), an affiliate of the League of Southeastern Credit Unions & Affiliates (LSCU), announced the top priorities it will advocate during the annual 60-day legislative session that begins March 3.

FCUA proposals seek to promote public banking choice, to increase data security, to fight patent trolling and to revise financial literacy guidelines.

LSCU CEO Patrick La Pine says public depository choice is the No. 1 priority, allowing municipalities and public offices the convenience of moving money elsewhere if needs are not met at their current banking institutions.

That’s why the alliance supports Senate Bill 1154, filed by state Sen. Rene Garcia, and House Bill 907 by state Rep. Bill Hager. Both bills seek to allow greater depository choice, which the FCUA contends will spur competition and create opportunities for additional savings and higher returns on deposits.

“Public offices should have the ability to deposit their funds in local credit unions,” said LSCU Board of Directors chair-elect Alvin J. Cowans, who also is CEO of McCoy Federal Credit Union in Orlando.

“This shift would allow locally raised funds to stay inside the community,” Cowans said. “If successful, this good legislation would establish a framework that would provide optimal economic benefits to taxpayers.”

Another issue for the FCUA is “patent trolling,” where individuals or companies sue other companies, including credit unions, under dubious claims in order to collect license fees.

Often, businesses targeted by patent trolls have limited resources to fight back, and wind up paying the amount demanded, which drains resources and raises consumer prices. Only 15 states now have a “patent troll” law.

FCUA will also advocate financial literacy for high school students.

To provide students with a better understanding of the importance of fiscal responsibility, FCUA will support legislation requiring high school seniors to take a half-credit-hour financial literacy course as an eligibility for graduation. Once a bill passes, credit unions vow to help implement curriculum statewide.

Further details on the legislative agenda for both the FCUA and the LSCU is online at www.lscu.coop.

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.