Washington Legislative Week in Review

House Bill 1327 has been scheduled for a hearing before the Senate Financial Institutions, Housing & Insurance Committee today. The bill allows public entities to deposit public funds into federally chartered credit unions as well as state chartered credit unions, and increases the amount that may be deposited up to the maximum level of NCUSIF insurance.

Public Funds for Credit Unions. House Bill 1327 has been scheduled for a hearing before the Senate Financial Institutions, Housing & Insurance Committee on Tuesday, March 22 at 10:00 a.m.  The hearing will take place in the John A. Cherberg Bldg., hearing room 2.  The bill allows public entities to deposit public funds into federally chartered credit unions as well as state chartered credit unions, and increases the amount that may be deposited up to the maximum level of NCUSIF insurance.

Prize-Linked Savings Accounts. Senate Bill 5232 passed the House State Government & Tribal Affairs Committee on Thursday, March 17. There were two amendments to the bill. The first removed language which was mistakenly added and passed by the Senate that required prize-linked savings instruments to pay a comparable rate to similar instruments (the Muckleshoot language which was set aside in the Senate Labor, Commerce & Consumer Protection Committee but somehow found its way into the bill). The second was an amendment by Rep. Alexander which in effect requires deposits be held for at least 12 months in order for participants to be eligible for a prize. Association staff met with Rep. Alexander immediately before the vote to express concerns over the amendment’s potential effect on the bill, and he said he would work with us to change the language of the amendment when the bill reaches the House floor.

The bill would allow financial institutions to participate in prize-linked savings promotions which incent consumer savings by entering participants into drawings for cash prizes.

Foreclosure. House Bill 1362 passed the Senate Financial Institutions, Housing & Insurance Committee on Wednesday, March 16 and was referred to the Senate Rules Committee. The 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. Other provisions in the bill are applicable to credit unions, however, requiring new meet and confer requirements.

Small Business Reg Relief. House Bill 1150 passed the Senate Government Operations, Tribal Relations & Elections Committee on Monday, March 14 and was referred to the Senate Rules Committee. The bill extends from two, to seven calendar days the grace period allowing a small business to correct a violation of a law or rule before sanctions can set in.

Server Farms. Last year the Legislature enacted a sales and use tax exemption on eligible server equipment and power infrastructure used at eligible computer data centers. In order to qualify for the temporary exemption, the server farm must be: (1) located in a rural county, (2) have at least 20,000 square feet dedicated to housing servers, and (3) start construction before July 2011. Senate Bill 5873 removes some of the restrictions in last year’s bill and further expands the exemption in order to make housing server farms in Washington more attractive. The bill received a hearing before the Senate Ways & Means Committee on Wednesday, March 16. Association staff are working with the bill’s sponsor to craft an amendment that would make the tax incentive applicable to not-for-profit credit unions (the bill is currently only applicable to for-profit entities).