Credit Union Advocates Flock to Olympia as Committees Discuss Board Governance Bills

Credit unions were on full display in Olympia, Wash., last Thursday, when three important committee hearings coincided with the Northwest Credit Union Association (NWCUA) Credit Union Day at the Capitol.

Substitute House Bill 1582 received a hearing before the House Business & Financial Services Committee, and its companion, Senate Bill 5302, received a hearing of its own the same day before the Senate Financial Institutions, Housing & Insurance Committee. Both bills would modify the Washington Credit Union Act, most notably by allowing state-chartered credit unions to pay board and supervisory committee members—to provide what the bill describes as “reasonable compensation.”

“These reforms are clearly needed and will help our businesses in a very practical way,” Gesa Credit Union President and CEO Christina Lethlean said during her testimony before the House committee. “So, as CEO of a Washington state-chartered credit union, please help me and my members and my community by modernizing and improving our state act.”

Washington would be the ninth state to allow credit unions to be governed by a paid board of directors.

House Bill 1173 also received a hearing before the House Education Committee on Feb. 7, with NWCUA President and CEO Troy Stang testifying in support. The bill proposes modifications to membership and to certain procedures and duties of the Financial Education Public-Private Partnership (FEPPP) and would require the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) to make the curriculum for at least one course in financial education available to all school districts.

Meanwhile, more than 100 credit union advocates from around the state—all sporting matching yellow scarves—had descended on the Capitol campus to educate legislators about credit unions and their community-focused mission.

BECU’s Kelly Haag, joined by several of her fellow Pierce County Chapter of Credit Unions board members, was one of many first-time participants at the Credit Union Day at the Capitol event. Haag said the day didn’t just impact the views of the many legislators who met with credit union advocates that day, but it inspired the advocates themselves as well.

“Not only am I already excited to attend the event next year, but my juices have been reactivated to be more politically involved in the credit union movement,” Haag said. “Listening to some of our state legislators address our group as a whole, as well as meeting with my own district reps one on one, was a unique and educational experience. The energy in the tent was high, and one can’t help but feel patriotic while touring the grounds of our state’s Capitol. Overall, this was a wonderful experience.”

The House Business & Financial Services Committee also held hearings last week on debt adjusting and management services, alien insurers, and real estate agencies. The Senate Financial Institutions & Insurance Committee additionally held hearings on title insurance, manufactured housing communities, housing trust fund investments, carbon monoxide alarms, tenants, and unlawful detainer.

Washington Legislative Week in Review

Debt Adjusting Services – House Bill 1491 received a hearing before the House Business & Financial Services Committee on Feb. 6. The bill would prohibit debt adjusting, except by a nonprofit social service agency or nonprofit consumer credit counseling agency licensed by the DFI. It would also limit the total fee for debt adjusting services to $15 per month.

Independent Contractor Relationships – House Bill 1440 was passed by the House Labor & Workforce Development Committee on Feb. 7 and referred to the House Finance Committee. The bill would create a new test to determine whether an individual is an independent contractor for purposes of the new Employee Fair Classification Act, the Minimum Wage Act, the Wage Payment Act, and laws on prevailing wage,wage deductions, industrial insurance, and unemployment compensation. The Association has concerns with this bill, as it allows for creation of a statutory lien for wage claims that would have priority over all other liens.

Collection of Unpaid Wages – Senate Bill 5360 received a hearing before the Senate Commerce & Labor Committee on Feb. 6. The bill modifies procedures for the collection of unpaid wages by the Department of Labor & Industries (L&I). As part of the bill, L&I is authorized to match its outstanding warrants against deposit accounts held by financial institutions registered in Washington State. L&I can serve a notice to withhold and deliver to the institutions electronically no more than once per month. L&I must develop a process to relieve certain institutions from this method of service if it is burdensome, and has authority to adopt rules necessary to implement this process. The Association has concerns with this bill as it places an additional regulatory burden on credit unions.

 

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.