Advocacy Today Is Easy Compared To The Past

by Anne Vieira, MBA Chairman

In July, we celebrate the birth of our nation. The flag, our symbol of freedom, and the songs, speeches and parades signify the history of how America became the promise for so many people. At our picnics, family gatherings and firework displays, it’s easy to forget the enormous sacrifices made by the men and women who made it all possible.

Many of the signers of the Declaration of Independence who advocated for our freedom from British rule ended up losing everything — their land, their homes, their finances. They knew the risks when they signed their names, but they advocated anyway.

Today, Americans can and do advocate for many things — political preferences, human and equal rights, and, of course, business interests within our government’s rule. We take for granted that our voices can be heard without risk of losing our livelihood.

I ask you to join me this year in advocating FOR our livelihood — the Missouri banking industry. MBA has made it easy! Please consider becoming involved in these advocacy programs.

Political Action Committees
The first PAC was created 75 years ago by the Congress of Industrial Organizations to raise funds to assist with the re-election of Franklin D. Roosevelt. Since then, the number of PACs has multiplied immensely. According to the Missouri Ethics Commission, there are 936 active PACs registered in the state while the Federal Election Commission reports 3,266 active registered PACs in the United States. Today, individuals and corporations can fund an array of campaigns for various individuals and issues appearing on ballots. 

MBA’s PACs aren’t that different from the first one established by the Congress of Industrial Organizations in 1944. At both the federal and state levels, we support candidates who understand the issues facing our industry and banks’ vital role in advancing economic growth in our communities. With the 2020 elections less than 18 months away, you will soon see campaigns begin to take shape. Your support is needed so we can back candidates who understand our industry and our role in advancing economic growth in our communities.

Strikeforce Grassroots Team  
Our state marked a milestone July 3, 2019 — it was the 100th anniversary of the Missouri Senate approving women’s right to vote. This significant event made Missouri the 11th of 36 states needed to ratify the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which was ratified in 1920. The culmination of this historic event in our state’s history was the result of previous generations of women and men who banded together to support women’s suffrage. They mobilized their families, friends and colleagues to ensure many voices were heard and united in their mission to give women the right to vote. 

We continue to rally around issues affecting our world today. MBA was founded in 1891 so bankers could unify their voice in advocating for the banking industry. Our advocacy strategies have changed since then as we mobilize bankers throughout the state in pressing matters affecting our industry. Through MBA’s Strikeforce Grassroots teams, banks have designated individual(s) to communicate the issue at hand with bank staff, who are encouraged to reach out to their lawmakers about their concerns. By hearing from a multitude of bankers on a particular topic, elected officials can understand the magnitude of the issue on their constituents. 

MBA Washington Visit
A visit to our nation’s capital is something you must truly experience. It’s one thing to see Congress on TV; it’s another to walk those halls and visit the offices of our congressional delegation. I urge you to join me Sept. 24-27 in Washington, D.C., to meet with our senators and representatives to discuss several urgent matters requiring their attention. This includes bills to delay CECL implementation, resolve the federal-state conflict on cannabis banking and modernize anti-money laundering/Bank Secrecy Act laws, among others. 

Your time in Washington, D.C., is an investment in our industry. The more bankers we have sharing their concerns with lawmakers, the louder our message resonates with them. The conversations you have on Capitol Hill affect what happens at home on Main Street.

The deadline to register is Wednesday, Aug. 14.

Target Banker Visits
As seen on the front cover of this issue, Gov. Mike Parson signed the last of the bills advocated by MBA this past session. The successful passage and enactment of this legislation stems from your advocacy efforts, including Target Banker visits. This year, a record number of bankers — 182 — visited their state senators and representatives at the Missouri Capitol. These visits produced discussions with 116 unique legislators, which translated into 275 total visits with state lawmakers. 

As bankers, we like numbers, especially record numbers. While it is quiet inside the Capitol now, it won’t be that way when the 2020 session starts in January. It is my hope we can break the Target Banker record next year, perhaps reaching 200 or higher. When MBA calls on you to
be a Target Banker next session, I hope you answer the call without any hesitation. 

All these opportunities help accomplish the goal of ensuring that the dual banking system remains viable, healthy and vibrant for the future. One way to ensure you and your staff are up to date on the latest topics in banking regulation and legislation is to attend MBA’s 2019 regional meetings in August and September. These half-day meetings equip you with the knowledge of what’s happening on the state and federal levels with respect to legislation and regulatory concerns. Please plan to join us … I look forward to seeing you!

It is easy to stay busy with the daily demands of banking and think others will do the work needed to ensure legislative and regulatory concerns will not affect local bank activity … until they do. Take the time to do your part by becoming involved. It’s easy!

Anne Vieira, Saints Avenue Bank, New London
Anne Vieira is senior vice president of Saints Avenue Bank in New London. Vieira joined Saints Avenue Bank in 1994 after working for the National Park Service and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. A member of the bank’s board of directors, Vieira has overseen compliance, audit, human resources and marketing. She has served on the MBA Board of Directors since 2016, the Budget and Audit Committee, the Membership Committee, the Mark Twain PAC Committee and the MBA Bankers Benefit Corporation Board of Directors.