One of the benefits of your credit union’s League membership is access to Advocacy in Action, which offers information about how we are advocating for credit union interests. You’ll receive this enewsletter regularly when the Indiana General Assembly is in session along with timely updates at other times during the year. Since it is a benefit for League affiliates, some links may be password-protected. If you have questions or comments about content, contact us at (800) 285-5300, or email SVP Governmental Affairs Chris Beaumont or League President John McKenzie .
April 3 Highlights: Updates on UCCC and Do Not Call Statute, CUs and hemp regulation
Statehouse Update
With the start of April, the end of this year’s session of the Indiana General Assembly is coming into sight. Although the session must end by April 29, there are indications that legislators will wrap up their work early and head out of town before the NRA brings its national convention and 80,000 visitors to Indianapolis on April 26. This is the time in the session when things get a little tense and tempers grow short with bill deadlines looming and options running out for legislation not moving.

The League is actively working several issues as the clock ticks down including continuing efforts to pass our consumer credit legislation, work on a “do not call” list bill, and recently engaging on a bill regulating hemp production and distribution. 

Uniform Consumer Credit Code (UCCC) Improvements - HB 1136

This legislation continues to be the League’s top priority. While there is not significant opposition to our bill, getting it through the Senate has become difficult because of the atmosphere surrounding broader payday lending legislation (SB 613). The League has worked hard to keep our bill out of the storm of controversy enveloping the payday lending bill and we continue to make progress. The bill was originally scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Insurance and Financial Institutions Committee on March 20, but that meeting was canceled due to a schedule conflict. As the bill remains in play, we continue to work hard to fight off potential harmful amendments and rumors of amendments. Chairman Eric Bassler (R-Washington) has told us he will schedule the bill for a hearing on April 10, the last possible day he can move the bill before a critical deadline. We remain confident that the bill will pass through the committee and that we have more than enough support to pass the bill through the full Senate the week of April 15. Senator Andy Zay (R-Huntington) is taking the lead is shepherding the bill that was authored in the House by Financial Institutions Committee Chairman Woody Burton (R-Whiteland) . HB 1136 calls for a summer study committee to review the full UCCC and would:

  • Change the existing UCCC “transaction charge” to allow a fee of the greater of $10 or 2%. Currently, the limit is the lesser of $10 or 2%. The most common application of the “transaction charge” is for credit card balance transfer and cash advance fees.
  • Increase the allowable delinquency charge from $19 to $25. It also would remove this from the indexing process that results in an amount that changes every two years with the Consumer Price Index.
  • Make improvements to a complicated provision of the UCCC called the “current installment rule” that creates confusion for lenders trying to post delinquent loan payments and collect the appropriate delinquency charge.
Do Not Call List – HB 1123
The League continues to be actively engaged in efforts to preserve language in HB 1123 that would provide financial institutions with an exemption from Indiana’s strict “do not call” statute. HB 1123 includes language that would give financial institutions the chance to call current customers by exempting calls made by a financial institution made to a consumer with whom the financial institution has "an established business relationship" as defined under the federal "do not call" regulations. While credit unions would still be required to follow the federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), an exemption from Indiana’s more restrictive law would be beneficial and provide more opportunities for contacting members who might be on the Indiana “do not call” list. HB 1123 passed the House unanimously and passed the Senate Utilities Committee by a vote of 10-0. The bill has been scheduled for action on the Senate floor and has drawn proposed amendments to remove the new exemption language. The League continues to work with the Indiana Bankers Association (IBA) to protect the exemption language and we expect the legislation to pass soon. 
Regulation of Hemp - SB 516
In the last couple of weeks, the League has begun working on a new issue related to legislation that would regulate hemp in Indiana. In the federal farm bill passed in December, Congress created a process for the federal government and state governments to regulate the production of hemp and, subsequently hemp-derived products like CBD oil. As a part of this process, a state must pass a regulatory scheme governing hemp production in the state and the plan must be approved by the USDA. SB 516 is Indiana’s effort at creating that regulatory framework. From this standpoint, the League has been monitoring the bill's progress with the hope that it will ultimately provide some clarity on how credit unions can proceed in offering financial services to business that sell CBD products or farmers who want to grow legal hemp.

Beyond that, the League has now had to actively lobby for a change in the legislation as it left the Senate. During the Senate debate, law enforcement representatives brought up concerns about something called “smokable hemp” that is very difficult to differentiate from marijuana. As a result, the Senate added language that would make it a criminal offense to possess, grow, or distribute “smokable hemp.” The problem is, the legislation also makes it a criminal offense to finance the production or distribution of “smokable hemp.” Consequently, the League has been working with the Indiana Bankers Association (IBA) to pass an amendment to the bill that would exempt financing from financial institutions from this criminal provision.

While it is, of course, not likely that a credit union would knowingly or intentionally finance the production or distribution of an illegal substance, we are concerned that a credit union financing a farm operation growing legal hemp or a convenience store selling legal CBD oil might inadvertently get caught up in a criminal investigation if the farm or business changed what it was doing and began producing or selling “smokable hemp.” SB 516 is scheduled for a hearing in the House Agriculture Committee on April 4 and we expect our amendment will be approved.
If you want specifics on any of these issues, please contact SVP Governmental Affairs Chris Beaumont. or Director of Advocacy Madison West.
Indiana bills we follow
At the state level, League staff annually reviews more than 1,000 introduced bills, identifying dozens each year that could impact both state-chartered and federal credit unions. Click here or on the Bill Tracker logo above to learn more about our top priority bills this session.