Washington Legislative Week in Review

An update on various legislations that may affect credit unions, including a foreclosure mediation update, redistricting plans, and changes to the property recording surcharge.

Foreclosure Mediation Program Update
The state continues to flesh out its newly created foreclosure mediation program, signed into law on April 14 of this year (House Bill 1362). The Department of Commerce’s Foreclosure Fairness Act Mediation Program Information website is now up and running and contains useful information for homeowners, as well as links for financial institutions. Additional information will be added to the site as the department develops resources designed to comply with the new law.

Redistricting Plans Released
Every state must redraw its legislative and congressional districts every 10 years (relying on census numbers) to allow for the equal representation necessary in a democratic republic. Earlier this week the Washington Redistricting Commission met and approved a schedule of 17 public meetings to be held across the state, and allowing for local community input.

If you have an interest in participating in one of the committee’s hearings, or would like to learn more about the commission, point your web browser to the commission’s website. All of the commission hearings will also be broadcast on TVW for those of you who would prefer to watch them from your comfy armchair.

Property Recording Surcharge
In 2009, the legislature temporarily increased the surcharge on property recordings from $10 to $30 for the purpose of funding affordable housing programs. H.B. 2048 extends the increase from the 2009-2011 biennium until 2017, increasing the cost of property recordings to fund housing for homeless persons. Between July 2009 and July 2011, the surcharge will remain $30. Beginning August 2011 and through June 2014, the surcharge will increase to $40, and finally between July 2015 and June 2017 the surcharge will be $30. The bill is currently on the floor of the House pending a vote during the special session.

ATMs in Taverns
Senate Bill 5921 relates to the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. Among other more substantive provisions of the bill, one section of the bill requires the following businesses (see below) to disable the ability of the ATMs and point-of-sale machines located on their premises from accepting EBT cards on or before January 1, 2012:

  • Taverns;
  • Beer/wine specialty stores;
  • Nightclubs;
  • Contract liquor stores, but only for the point-of-sale machines used for liquor purchases;
  • Bail bond agencies;
  • Gambling establishments;
  • Tattoo, body piercing, or body art shops;
  • Adult entertainment venues with performances that contain erotic material where minors under the age of 18 are prohibited; and
  • Any establishments where persons under the age of 18 are not permitted.

The bill passed the House floor on May 13, and received concurrence from the Senate on May 16. It seems somewhat unlikely that your credit union will be affected by the bill. However, if you do maintain an ATM in your local tattoo parlor, your local business owner may be contacting you for advice on how to disable the ATM’s acceptance of electronic benefit cards before the beginning of next year.

Sunshine Committee
Today the “Sunshine Committee” meets in Olympia to consider a recommendation that all exemptions from public disclosure applicable to financial institutions should be revoked. The Department of Financial Institutions is expected to explain the importance of maintaining its exemptions from public disclosure (e.g., exemptions exempting your exam reports from public disclosure). The Association will also be present to explain the importance of maintaining exemptions from public disclosure applicable to credit unions. If you would like to read more about the Committee’s proposal or plans, point your web browser to the Committee’s website.

Repealing the Bank Tax Exemption
H.B. 2078 finds that smaller classes in the early grades significantly increases the amount of learning that takes place in the classroom, and declares the intent of the legislature to fully fund K-12 class size reductions by narrowing tax deductions for banks, and repealing the sales tax exemption for nonresidents. Last week the bill received a do pass recommendation from the House Ways & Means Committee. The bill may go to the floor in the next week for a vote, but is unlikely to receive the two-thirds vote necessary for passage under I-1053.