Washington Legislative Week in Review

House Bill 1327 passed the House on Saturday, February 26 by a vote of 85-12 with 1 excused. It is now expected that the bill will be referred to the Senate Financial Institutions, Housing & Insurance Committee where Association staff will work to get it scheduled for a hearing.

Public Funds for Credit Unions Passes House

House Bill 1327 passed the House on Saturday, February 26 by a vote of 85-12 with 1 excused. Today the bill was referred to the Senate Financial Institutions, Housing & Insurance Committee where Association staff are working to get it scheduled for a hearing. Since this committee failed to pass the bill’s senate companion measure, it is now critical that we get enough support for House Bill 1327 to keep the issue before the legislature this year.

Prize-Linked Savings Accounts

Senate Bill 5232 passed the Senate on Wednesday, February 23 by a vote of 46-2 with 1 excused. The bill’s prime sponsor, Senator Derek Kilmer (D-26) and Ranking Minority Member Senator Janéa Holmquist Newbry (R-13) spoke in favor of the bill. No senator raised the question as to whether the bill represented an expansion of gambling—which would have required the Lieutenant Governor (President of the Senate) to rule on the matter. If deemed an expansion of gambling, the bill would have required an affirmative vote of sixty percent of the members for passage. Association staff had previously met with the Lieutenant Governor concerning this issue to prepare him should the issue be raised.

After passing the Senate, Senate Bill 5232 was referred to the House State Government & Tribal Affairs Committee. That committee has already heard and passed the House companion measure (House Bill 1326, which is currently in the House Rules Committee awaiting floor action).

It’s expected that the House State Government & Tribal Affairs Committee will schedule SB 5232 for a hearing in the next week or two.

Foreclosure

On Wednesday, February 23, Association staff participated in another negotiation on the foreclosure bills. There continue to be some concerns with the bill, but negotiators have agreed to let the bills continue to move through the legislative process as minor issues continue to be resolved.

House Bill 1362 received a hearing before the House Ways & Means Committee on Wednesday, February 23, and received a do-pass recommendation on Friday, February 25. The House version of the foreclosure bill includes language that will exempt all credit unions that conducted less than 250 deed of trust foreclosures in the last calendar year from the bill’s mandatory mediation provisions. It also exempts these credit unions from paying for the cost of the mandatory mediation scheme created by the bill. Senate Bill 5275 received a hearing before the Senate Ways & Means Committee on Thursday, February 24, and received a do-pass recommendation on Friday, February 25. Senate Bill 5275 does not exempt credit unions from the bill’s mandatory mediation requirements, and the Association opposes the bill.

Tax Exemption Repeal

On Thursday, February 24, Senate Bill 5857 was introduced which would repeal all Washington State retail sales tax exemptions, use tax exemptions, tax deferrals, and B&O tax exemptions. Under the bill, the state credit union tax exemption is repealed effective July 1, 2013, and the exemption for sales and use taxes paid on personal property when a credit union converts from a federal charter to a state charter is also repealed effective July 1, 2013. The bill is unlikely to go anywhere in its current form. It would require two-thirds votes in the Legislature or be approved by voters.

Association staff will continue to monitor this bill and be actively engaged and vigilant as state legislators now turn their attention to budgeting. Please stay tuned on this issue. If the bill (or similar legislation) gains traction during the session, we will be calling on you for a strong and unified grassroots response in support of maintaining existing credit union tax exemptions.

Financial Literacy

House Bill 1594, which adopts the Jump$tart national standards for K-12 personal finance education as the state’s essential academic learning requirements for financial education, subject to funds being appropriated to support school districts with curriculum and professional development to implement the standards, was given a hearing before the House Committee on Education Appropriations & Oversight on February 18, with Association staff testifying in support of the bill. The bill was given a do-pass recommendation by the committee on February 21.

Street Utility Taxes

House Bill 1929, which allows cities to add taxes to businesses within a street utility district based on the estimated number of additional trips created by the business, and which would have a greater impact on credit unions with drive-through teller facilities, was given a hearing before the House Committee on Transportation on Tuesday, February 22 and a substitute bill was given a do-pass recommendation by the committee on Thursday, February 24. The Association signed in with concerns on the bill.

Service Members Civil Relief

House Bill 1615 expands Washington’s existing service member protections to reservists called to active duty by the Governor for more than thirty consecutive days. On Saturday, February 26, the bill passed the House floor with a 97-0 vote (1 excused).

The following bills which the Association had previously reported on, died with the first cutoff:

  • HB 1320 Establishing the Washington investment trust (state bank of Washington)
  • HB 1342 Addressing the purchase of flood insurance
  • HB 1356 Restricting the interest rates of credit cards
  • HB 1558 Addressing the foreclosure crisis in Washington State through the creation of alternative mortgage financing based on shared appreciation (shared appreciation mortgages)
  • SB 5233 Increasing the permissible deposit of public funds with credit unions (Note: the companion House bill is still alive)
  • SB 5238 Establishing the Washington investment trust (state bank of Washington)
  • SB 5309 Modifying certain deeds of trust provisions