U.S. Sens. Smith & Sasse Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Improve Credit Union Employee Safety, Simplify Operations

WASHINGTON, D.C. [02/24/20]—Today, U.S. Senators Tina Smith (D-Minn.) and Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) introduced bipartisan legislation—the Credit Union Governance Modernization Act—that would make credit unions safer for employees and members, and simplify rules for credit union operations. The measure would allow federal credit unions to expel members for violations of credit union policies, without requiring a vote of membership. Under current law, a federal credit union must hold of a vote of its entire membership before it can expel a member who engages in unacceptable, sometimes dangerous behavior.

Minnesota credit unions have shared stories of members who have robbed credit unions, smashed ATMs, and sexually harassed tellers. Despite this behavior, it can be burdensome and slow for credit unions to expel these members because current law requires the credit union to call a vote of membership to expel a member, even when the member has been in engaged in egregious conduct. Sens. Smith and Sasse’s bill would fix this problem by simplifying the expulsion process, with protections to prevent unfair expulsions.  

“For too long, Minnesota credit unions have had to endure members who rob them, harass employees, or destroy credit union property,” said Sen. Smith. “The Minnesota legislature voted unanimously to fix this problem for state-chartered credit unions in 2018, and our bipartisan legislation would take what we’ve learned in Minnesota and apply it to credit unions that are federally chartered. And I’m glad to be working across party lines with Republican Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska.” 

“Credit unions should be able to have a straightforward and fair way to enforce their membership rules. Right now, if an unruly credit union member makes trouble for tellers or other members, the credit union has to go through a lot of rigmarole to expel them. Our common-sense bill simplifies that process to make it fast and fair to ensure safety and transparency,” said Sen. Sasse.

“This bill is an important step to update the federal credit union charter,” said Mark Cummins, President & CEO of the Minnesota Credit Union Network. “We appreciate Senator Smith’s commitment to the safety and security of Minnesota credit unions.”

“NAFCU strongly supports the Credit Union Governance Modernization Act of 2020 as it will help protect credit unions and their members from abusive, fraudulent and criminal activity,” said NAFCU President and CEO Dan Berger. “Credit unions have an obligation to ensure their cooperatives act in the best interests of their members and local community, and this bill would make it easier for them to address bad actors engaging in illegal behavior. We thank Senators Tina Smith and Ben Sasse for introducing this important bill, and NAFCU will continue to advocate for this bill to be signed into law.”

As a member of the Senate Banking Committee, Sen. Smith has focused her efforts on expanding economic growth in Minnesota. Two of her recent bipartisan measures have been signed into law, including her successful effort to ensure that major building projects and high-profile public events like the Super Bowl can be insured against terrorism-related risks. Without such protections, countless jobs would be at risk.

In December the President also signed into law her bipartisan legislation to fix a mistake in the 2017 tax law that put rural electric cooperatives in Minnesota and across the country at risk of losing their tax-exempt status if they accepted government grants to provide much-needed rural broadband services, or to clean up after a weather disaster. The measure will help expand economic growth and keep electric rates low for more than a million customers in Minnesota.