Two NWCUA-Sponsored Bills to Receive Committee Hearings in Washington Thursday

Two bills sponsored by the Northwest Credit Union Association (NWCUA) will receive committee hearings in the Washington State Legislature on Thursday.

The NWCUA-sponsored House Bill 1582, which addresses credit unions’ corporate governance, investments and capital, was introduced on Jan. 31 and referred to the House Business & Financial Services Committee, where it is scheduled for a hearing on Feb. 7.

A similar measure addressing credit unions’ corporate governance and investments has been introduced in the Senate and has also been scheduled for a hearing before the Senate Financial Institutions, Housing & Insurance Committee on Thursday. Senate Bill 5302 would advance the charter and operating environment for credit unions in the state, but unlike HB 1582, it does not include the implementation of supplemental capital for Washington’s credit unions.

Last week, the House Business & Financial Services Committee held hearings on the Department of Financial Institutions’ (DFI) request legislation as well as redemption of impounded vehicles and prohibiting the use of credit history in insurance coverage related to a residence.

The Senate Financial Institutions & Insurance Committee also held hearings on the DFI request legislation along with bills on reporting the assignment and transfer of real property, small consumer installment loans, regulating insurer transactions, the Washington Insurance Guaranty Association Act and portable electronics insurance. The committee also held a work session on the state’s financial cluster study report.

Financial Literacy – House Bill 1173 is scheduled for a hearing before the House Education Committee on Feb. 7. The bill modifies membership and certain procedures and duties of the Financial Education Public-Private Partnership (FEPPP) and requires the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) to make available to all school districts the curriculum for a course or courses in financial education.

Debt Adjusting Services – House Bill 1491 was introduced on Jan. 29 and referred to the House Business & Financial Services Committee, where it is scheduled for a hearing on Feb. 6. The bill would prohibit debt adjusting except by a nonprofit social service agency or nonprofit consumer credit counseling agency licensed by DFI. The bill would also limit the total fee for debt adjusting services to $15 per month and provide for licensing, annual audits and disciplinary proceedings.

Workers’ Compensation – Several bills aimed at reforming the state’s workers’ compensation system were approved by the Senate Commerce & Labor Committee on Jan. 28. Votes by the full Senate are expected soon.

Senate Bills 5112, 5124, 5126, 5127, and 5128 propose changes to help fill an anticipated $1.1 billion shortfall in the trust fund over the next decade. Cost savings would be realized through expanded voluntary settlement options for injured workers, along with other reforms to avoid additional taxes on employers and employees.

Family Leave Act – Senate Bill 5159 was heard before the Senate Commerce & Labor Committee on Jan. 28. The bill would repeal the never-funded state Family Leave Act passed in 2006. In 2007 the Legislature enacted a framework for a family leave insurance program, but implementation was delayed in both 2009 and 2011.

The framework provides that, beginning on Oct. 1, 2015, benefits of up to $250 per week for up to five weeks are payable to individuals who are unable to perform their regular or customary work because they are on family leave. Beginning on Sept. 1, 2016, and annually thereafter, reports on program participation, premium rates, fund balances and outreach efforts must be submitted to the Legislature.

The federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) already provides certain employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave per year. It also requires that group health benefits be maintained during the leave.

Washington State Legislature Piloting New Online Advocacy Tool

For those who like to track legislation on the Washington State Legislature’s website, the Washington State Legislature has launched a pilot program called e-comments that will allow citizens to submit electronic comments and suggestions related to any bills under consideration by the Legislature directly to legislators.

“So, for example, you could go to the bill pages for the current NWCUA bills (Senate Bill 5302 and House Bill 1582) and submit comments about the bill that will be directed to your legislators,” said NWCUA Vice President of Legislative Affairs Mark Minickiello. “It’s as simple as selecting a bill, indicating whether you are for or against it, and typing some comments or suggestions that will then be made available to your legislators.”

First-time users will be asked to create an account and to provide residential address information to determine their legislative district. This will allow the bill comments to be made available directly to the legislators who represent the person making the comments. Information will be used only by the Legislature and will not be sold or otherwise made available to any third parties for commercial purposes.

Credit Union Day at the Capitol

On Thursday, Feb. 7, the NWCUA will host its all-new Credit Union Day at the Capitol in Olympia, Wash.

“Our goal is to have every legislator receive a visit from a local credit union on that day,” Minickiello said, and that goal is within reach thanks to outstanding contributions from credit unions like iQ Credit Union, who will be sending 15 employees to Olympia on Thursday, and from groups like the Pierce County Chapter of Credit Unions. Six of the chapter’s board members will be in attendance, and the chapter itself sponsored the registration of two additional credit union employees from Pierce County as well.

“Our state legislators are going to be facing some tough decisions this year, and a lot of them are newly elected,” Minickiello said. “If our legislators don’t know anything about credit unions or the great things we do for our members and our communities, then they assume we are just like banks. Help us spread the word about how credit unions are different.”

Several changes to this year’s program were implemented to help ease the burden on credit unions that send employees to participate, such as:

  • Shorter conference (10 a.m. to 4 p.m., with no hotel stay required)
  • Free parking and shuttle
  • Reduced registration costs ($49)
  • Casual dress code (logo-wear encouraged)

Registration for the Washington Credit Union Day at the Capitol is available online. Help spread the word by also joining the event on Facebook and sharing it with friends and colleagues.

 

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

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

Posted in Advocacy News, NCUA.