Oregon Legislative Week in Review

 

Credit Union Legislation
We expect our priority bill, Senate Bill 177, to be voted out of the House General Government Committee on its way to the House floor by the end of next week. The bills must be heard and passed out of its House committee by June 1 in order to stay “alive” in the legislative process.

Key features of SB 177 include:

  • Amending requirements for meetings of the board of directors to permit greater scheduling flexibility;
  • Changing the statutory title of “Credit Manager” to “Chief Credit Officer”;
  • Exempting standard mortgage loans to directors or senior managers from the requirement for board approval, and adding additional safeguards regarding loans to directors and senior managers;
  • Increasing the limit for loans to, and investments in, credit union service organizations from two percent of assets, to five percent of assets.
  • Clarifying member voting requirements for credit union mergers, in order to maximize member participation; and
  • Outlining procedures applicable to dissenting members during a credit union merger. 

State Bank
The twists and turns of a legislative session can truly be seen in this bill! There is yet another new bill number to follow—House Bill 2519. This bill started out related to Department of Revenue performance audits; however, the State Treasurer’s office decided to use it for a “gut and stuff” to move their bill, adjusting the timeline for the credit union public funds law. The bill does not change the effective date of the credit union public funds law, which remains January 1, 2013.

Additionally, another state bank alternative concept has been added to the bill. The Association was working closely with legislative leaders on amendments to HB 3452, the bill that creates the Oregon Economic Development Finance Authority. This bill and its companion, SB 889, were working their way through the legislative process and are considered the alternatives to the Oregon state bank concept. The Finance Authority would be charged with entering into contracts with state agencies for the investment and management of state funds. Earlier versions of the bill used a definition that excluded federally-chartered credit unions from participation on the Finance Authority Advisory Council; however, Association staff worked with bill sponsors to draft an amendment that will allow for credit union participation. The Association is supporting the current version of HB 2519 with the Finance Authority Board provisions included.

Garnishment
The Oregon Senate approved legislation that will align Oregon’s garnishment practices with federal policy, providing greater protection to Oregonians so they can meet their basic needs. SB 926 will increase from one to two months the amount that is protected when wages are garnished to collect a debt. Protected income includes social security, veterans’ benefits, unemployment insurance, and other types of benefits meant to cover the most basic living expenses.

In 2009, the legislature enacted legislation protecting one months’ worth of benefits from garnishment; however, federal regulations taking effect May 1 provide greater protection. The inconsistency in both type and scope of the protected benefits creates confusion for both financial institutions, which must implement a garnishment order in a timely and efficient manner, and for consumers. SB 926 amends current Oregon law to conform to the new federal rules and processes, alleviating complications. The bill was developed by a consensus group that included consumer advocates and representatives from the financial industry, including credit unions. 

Tax Credit Transparency
Last week, the Senate approved a bill that will require information about tax credits intended to promote economic development and create jobs to be posted on the Oregon Transparency website. HB 2825 will help the public access information on who receives these tax incentives and determine whether the intended results actually occurred.

“House Bill 2825 requires state agencies to report data that shows the real impact of a tax expenditure,” said Senator Ginny Burdick (D-Portland), co-sponsor of the bill and Chair of the Senate Finance & Revenue Committee. “This knowledge will improve the accountability of programs to ensure the public gets the best return on investment possible. In the long run, this will save taxpayers money and improve government efficiency.”

HB 2825 requires state agencies to report on tax expenditures for economic development purposes. The bill requires the following information to be posted on the Oregon Transparency website:

  • Name and address of taxpayer receiving tax expenditure related to economic development;
  • Amount of tax expenditure received;
  • Promised and actual results related to the project receiving the tax expenditure; and
  • An explanation of the agency’s certification decision.

Posted in Advocacy News, Industry Insight.