March 31, 2020
Special Message from NASCUS President & CEO Lucy Ito

As the coronavirus crisis continues to impact an increasing number of Americans, state officials are taking unprecedented steps to safeguard the physical and economic health of their residents. We are tracking the state activity on a dedicated page on the NASCUS website, with links to state-by-state guidance and updates as they are issued.

In this edition of StateFocus we are highlighting the swift actions taken by states to respond to the pandemic.

If you need any further information or we can be of assistance, please don’t hesitate to contact us .

Temporary Branch Closures

With a goal of keeping credit union members and staff healthy and safe, credit unions in several states have temporarily closed or restricted access to credit union branches. State regulators have issued guidance for credit unions, providing flexible solutions regarding such closures.

The Maine Bureau of Financial Institutions issued a letter stating it “understands that financial institutions may need to temporarily close a facility due to staffing challenges or to take precautionary measures.” The Bureau encouraged financial institutions to reduce disruptions to their customers, provide alternative service options when practical and reopen affected facilities when it is safe to do so. 

In light of Georgia’s State of Emergency declaration, the Department of Banking , reminded Georgia state-chartered financial institutions that they have the discretion to close business operations.

In Texas , the Credit Union Department issued guidance that permits state-chartered credit unions to place branches under emergency closure in excess of three days so long as the closure relates to the COVID-19 epidemic.
Suspension of Credit Union Annual Meetings

In an effort to “flatten the curve” and reduce the spread of the Coronavirus, credit union regulators in a number of states have suspended credit unions’ annual meeting requirement. In Iowa , the Division of Credit Unions asserted that if a credit union held an annual meeting within calendar year 2019, then the credit union will have the entire calendar year of 2020 to hold their next annual meeting. The Division will not require the annual meeting to be held 12 months after the prior annual meeting.

The Nebraska Department of Finance issued guidance authorizing state-chartered credit unions to postpone their annual meeting of members if they were scheduled to be held in March, April, May or June 2020. These meetings can be rescheduled for July or August with 30-day notice to members.

A Washington Letter to Credit Unions, noted that due to a 2019 law change, credit unions have the option to conduct virtual meetings. The previous statute about having credit union meetings at a “place” was removed with the intent to allow virtual meetings.
State Foreclosure Moratoriums

Amid rising unemployment numbers due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many states have instituted aggressive protections for homeowners. Among the states taking steps to prevent foreclosures due to the pandemic are California, New York and Kansas.

In California , Governor Gavin Newsom announced that homeowners suffering financially as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak will be eligible for the following relief:
  • 90-Day Grace Period for Mortgage Payments;
  • No Negative Credit Impacts Resulting from Relief;
  • Moratorium on Initiating Foreclosure Sales or Evictions; and
  • Relief from Fees and Charges
Similarly, New York issued guidance urging state regulated and exempt mortgage servicers to alleviate the adverse impact caused by COVID-19 on those mortgage borrowers who demonstrate they are not able to make timely payments, including:
  • Forbearing mortgage payments for 90 days from their due dates;
  • Refraining from reporting late payments to credit rating agencies for 90 days; and
  • Waiving late payment fees and any online payment fees for a period of 90 days
By Executive Order, Kansas is temporarily prohibiting all financial institutions operating in the state from initiating any mortgage foreclosure efforts or judicial proceedings, and any commercial or residential eviction efforts or judicial proceedings until May 1, 2020.
State Orders Closing Nonessential Businesses and Requiring Residents to Stay at Home

As the nation continues to grapple with COVID-19, governors in more than 30 states have taken efforts to promote social distancing and stem the pandemic by taking the following actions:
  • Closing nonessential businesses;
  • Requiring residents stay at home unless participating in essential activities; or
  • Both
The state orders restricting daily life vary in scope, yet all either follow or are aligned with the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency’s (CISA) guidance in determining which businesses and activities are deemed essential. CISA’s guidance classifies financial services, including credit union services, as critical. As such, all states in issuing business closure and stay at home orders have created exceptions for credit unions to remain open and for people to perform activities at credit unions.

 NASCUS has created a comprehensive matrix of the various state orders. The matrix will be continually updated and can be found here.

StateFocus will be published on a monthly basis during the final week of each month. Please submit any activity in your state to Shelton Roulhac for publication.
StateFocus |