Washington Legislative Week in Review: Legislature in Session, NWCUA Establishes State Priorities

The 2013 session of the Washington State Legislature began at noon on Monday, Jan. 14. In odd-numbered (budget) years, the legislature meets for 105 days, giving the regular session a scheduled end date of Sunday, April 28.

The three major tasks the Legislature must complete this year are adopting a budget for both 2013-15 and 2015-17, resolving the state Supreme Court’s requirement in the McCleary case that the Legislature live up to the constitutional requirement to “amply provide for the education of all children,” and working out all the details of the Medicaid expansion enabled by the federal Affordable Care Act.

Current budget projections show a shortfall of $904 million in the 2013-15 budget, and the Supreme Court’s mandate is estimated to cost an additional $1 billion over the next two years.

Following the November 2012 elections, both the House of Representatives and the Senate continued to be controlled by Democrats, although the Senate Democrats had a very slim majority (26-23). That majority in the Senate changed when Democratic Sens. Rodney Tom and Tim Sheldon voted to caucus with the Republicans, creating a new “Majority Coalition Caucus” with a 25-24 majority.

The Senate committees are divided, with Democrats in control of six committees, Republicans in control of six committees and three committees evenly split with co-chairs. Tom is serving as the majority coalition leader, and Sheldon is President Pro Tempore.

At the beginning of each biennium, the legislature re-forms its committees. Below is the makeup of this year’s key committees:

House Business & Financial Services Committee

  • Representative Steve Kirby (D-29), Chair
  • Representative Cindy Ryu (D-32), Vice Chair
  • Representative Kevin Parker (R-6), Ranking Minority Member
  • Representative Brandon Vick (R-18), Assistant Ranking Minority Member
  • Representative Brian Blake (D-19)
  • Representative Bruce Chandler (R-15)
  • Representative Cyrus Habib (D-48)
  • Representative Brad Hawkins (R-12)
  • Representative Zack Hudgins (D-11)
  • Representative Christopher Hurst (D-31)
  • Representative Linda Kochmar (R-30)
  • Representative Drew MacEwen (R-35)
  • Representative Steve O’Ban (R-28)
  • Representative Sharon Tomiko Santos (D-37)
  • Representative Derek Stanford (D-1)

Senate Financial Institutions & Insurance Committee

  • Senator Steve Hobbs (D-44), Chair
  • Senator Don Benton (R-17), Ranking Member
  • Senator Joe Fain (R-47)
  • Senator Brian Hatfield (D-19)
  • Senator Sharon Nelson (D-34)
  • Senator Pam Roach (R-31)

NWCUA Legislative Priorities for Washington State

The Northwest Credit Union Association has established the following four legislative priorities for Washington State for 2013:

Priority #1: Protect the Credit Union Tax Exemption. With continued discussion around closing tax “loopholes” as an alternative to raising taxes, all tax exemptions will likely be under scrutiny this year.

Priority #2: Improve the Washington Credit Union Charter. Based on recommendations from the Washington Model Act Subcommittee, the Association has drafted a bill that seeks to improve the Washington Credit Union Act in eight different ways.

Priority #3: Protect Credit Unions from New and Burdensome Requirements. Foreclosures remain high in the state, and consumer groups continue to test the recently passed Foreclosure Fairness Act (FFA). Credit unions and community banks were mostly exempted from the FFA, but early indications are the exemption might become an issue this session. Also, the Association will continue to work with other financial institutions in opposing state agencies requiring data-matching to recover money owed. Currently, Washington financial institutions perform data-matching for the Department of Health & Human Services (DSHS) and the Department of Revenue (DOR). The Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) is proposing legislation this year that would require financial institutions to perform data-matching in efforts to collect wages due to unpaid workers.

Priority #4: Protect the DFI’s Reserves. The state continues to sweep funds out of dedicated, non-appropriated accounts such as those maintained by the Department of Financial Institutions. Budget proposals in 2013 are likely to propose additional sweeps. Ongoing sweeps from DFI reserves will eventually effect the operations of the Division, or result in fee increases.

Look for the Washington Legislative Week in Review in Anthem during each week the Legislature is in session.

 

Questions? Contact a member of the Association’s Legislative Affairs team:

Jennifer Wagner, Vice President of Legislative Advocacy
Mark Minickiello, Vice President of Legislative Affairs
Pam Leavitt, Policy Advisor

Posted in Advocacy News.