Washington Legislative Week in Review: Legislature Heads to Special Session

The Washington State Legislature adjourned its regular session on Thursday, March 8, without agreeing on a supplemental budget to close the remaining $1 billion budget deficit. Gov. Christine Gregoire called the Legislature into a special session beginning yesterday to finish the budget, saying she hopes it can be completed by the end of the week.

The biggest sticking point between the Republican and Democratic budgets are provisions to delay a payment to K-12 schools by one day, which would push the payment into the next two-year budget cycle, saving $330 million in the current biennium.

As the budget will be the sole focus of the special legislative session, most bills introduced during the regular session are now either on their way to the governor’s desk or are considered dead. The following bills with impact on credit unions saw action during the regular session:

Public Funds

Gregoire signed Senate Bill 5913 into law Wednesday, March 7, with the bill expected to take effect June 7, 2012. The bill allows credit unions in Washington State to become public depositaries for amounts up to the maximum level of federal insurance.


First Mortgage Tax Exemption

House Bill 2794, which would narrow the business and operation tax exemption on interest earned on first mortgages to financial institutions located in 10 states or less, was not brought up for a vote before the regular session ended on Thursday.
When asked why the bank tax exemption was idled, House Ways and Means Chair Ross Hunter, D-Medina, said late Thursday that the banking industry had raised new concerns about the bill. Specifically, Hunter said, there was a concern about the interplay of the tax exemption with federal finance laws and the securitizing and sales of mortgages on secondary markets.


Garnishment

The House concurred with amendments made in the Senate to Substitute House Bill 1552 on Monday, March 5, and the bill has been delivered to the governor for her signature. The bill modifies the forms used in garnishment proceedings, increases the exemption for wages from 30 times the federal minimum hourly wage to 35 times the federal minimum hourly wage and increases the minimum and maximum amounts that may be collected for the garnishment attorney fee.


Short Sales/Foreclosures

After being amended to include language from House Bill 2421, a stand-alone bill that died on Friday, March 2, after failing to receive a floor vote before the cutoff, Engrossed Substitute House Bill 2614 passed the legislature on Tuesday, March 6, and will be delivered to the governor for her signature. The bill amends the Foreclosure Fairness Act passed last year and also limits the time in which a beneficiary may collect upon the outstanding debt of a short sale to three years.


Drivers’ Licenses

After the Senate refused to concur with House amendments to Engrossed Substitute Senate Bill 6150, the House and Senate formed a conference committee to work out the differences between the Senate- and House-passed versions of the bill, ultimately agreeing on a final version that passed the legislature on Thursday, March 8. The bill, which allows the Department of Licensing (DOL) to implement a facial recognition matching system for driver’s licenses, permits, and identicards, will now be delivered to the governor for her signature.

Questions? Contact a member of the Association’s Legislative Advocacy team:
Mark Minickiello, Vice President, Legislative Affairs
Stacy Augustine, Senior Vice President & General Counsel

Posted in Advocacy News, Federal.