Washington Legislative Week in Review: Legislature Works Quickly as March 13 Cutoff Nears

With the cutoff for bills to pass out of their house of origin set for tomorrow at 5 p.m., the Washington State Legislature spent most of its time in chambers last week, voting on legislation that passed out of policy committees and through the Rules Committee. The legislators’ days—and many nights—are being spent in caucus and on the floor debating and voting on amendments and bills, which will be considered dead if they have not been passed by the House or Senate before the March 13 deadline.

Last week, the House Business & Financial Services Committee held hearings on portable electronics insurance and exchange facilitators. The Senate Financial Institutions, Housing & Insurance Committee did not meet, but both committees will resume hearings on Thursday.

Washington Credit Union Act – After passing the Senate on Feb. 26 by a vote of 49-0, Senate Bill 5302 has been scheduled for a hearing before the House Business & Financial Services Committee on March 14.

Substitute House Bill 1582, a companion measure to SB 5302, has been scheduled for a hearing of its own before the Senate Financial Institutions, Housing & Insurance Committee on March 14. SBH 1582 passed the House on March 5 by a vote of 96-0, with 2 excused.

Both bills are designed to advance the charter and operating environment for credit unions in Washington State by proposing amendments to the Washington Credit Union Act based on the recommendations of the Northwest Credit Union Association’s (NWCUA’s) Washington State Model Act Subcommittee.

DFI Request Legislation – A suite of bills by request of the Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) advanced last week:

  • State-Chartered Banks – Engrossed Substitute House Bill 1325 passed the House on March 7 by a vote of 89-8 with one excused. The bill:
    • Permits the DFI to collect a semiannual assessment, as well as fees for services;
    • Modifies provisions related to bank and trust lending limits, including the transactions that constitute loans and extensions of credit, treatment of nonconforming loans, and authority to grant exceptions to lending limits;
    • Modifies provisions related to federal parity and cross-parity with out-of-state charters and other institutions for banks, savings banks, trust companies, and savings and loan associations;
    • Permits an out-of-state bank to establish or acquire a branch in Washington under the same circumstances as a state-chartered bank;
    • Applies requirements for engaging in a trust business to individuals and entities other than corporations, and grants the Department authority to prohibit a person from engaging in trust business; and
    • Immunizes conservators from liability for acts done in good faith, and provides for supervisory direction and conservatorships over trust companies.
    • Consumer Loan Act – House Bill 1326 passed the House on March 7 by a vote of 97-0 with one excused. The bill:
      • Provides remedies for a borrower when a person who is not licensed or exempt under the Consumer Loan Act (CLA) makes a transaction that is subject to the CLA;
      • Provides DFI with additional enforcement authority; and
      • Modifies several definitions;
      • Money Transmitters – Substitute House Bill 1327 passed the House on March 7 by a vote of 97-0 with one excused. The bill:
        • Requires fingerprinting for a state and national criminal background check of officers, directors, and owners of money services license applicants. (There is an exemption for officers, directors, and owners of publicly traded entities; and
        • Modifies several definitions in the Money Services Act.
        • Mortgage Brokers – Substitute House Bill 1328 passed the House on March 7 by a vote of 95-2 with one excused. The bill:
          • Expands the authority of the director of DFI to impose sanctions for violations of the Mortgage Brokers Practices Act (MBPA);
          • Modifies an exemption to the MBPA; and
          • Removes a limitation on the period of time to seek recovery against the bond of a licensee.

Independent Contractor Relationships – Second Substitute House Bill 1440 was pulled from the House Rules Committee on March 6 and is now on the House Floor Calendar. 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 is supporting a floor amendment to clarify that any statutory lien for wage claims be subordinate to debts, judgments, decrees, liens, security interests, or mortgages that were perfected prior to the wage lien.

Collection of Unpaid Wages – Engrossed Substitute House Bill 1467 passed the House on March 8 by a vote of 98-0. The bill Permits the Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) to electronically serve a financial institution with a Notice and Order to Withhold and Deliver. The Association supported a striking amendment on the House floor that requires L&I to work with the Department of Revenue (DOR) to include its outstanding warrants with the list DOR currently sends to financial institutions – thereby reducing the compliance burden to financial institutions.

Credit Card Surcharging – Engrossed Substitute House Bill 1870 passed the House on March 7 by a vote of 68-29 with 1 excused. A striking amendment on the House floor removed the prohibition for credit card surcharging and instead requires clear and conspicuous disclosure when a surcharge will be imposed on a cardholder who elects to use a credit card in lieu of payment by cash, check, or similar means. The bill also requires clear and conspicuous disclosure when a discount is offered for use of a payment method other than a credit card and requires any available discount for use of a payment method other than a credit card to be offered to all prospective customers.

Condo Liens – Senate Bill 5541 passed the Senate on March 11 by a vote of 47-2. The bill fixes the issue of condominium associations having super lien priority. Under current law, if a unit holder is delinquent in assessments, the association can file a lien against a unit. When an association forecloses upon a lien, the mortgage lender must pay off the lien prior to the sale to preserve its deed of trust lien. If the mortgage lender does not pay the off the lien in this instance, the mortgage lender’s lien is extinguished. The bill clarifies that where a condominium association uses its super lien priority to foreclose on a unit owner for unpaid assessments, the lender’s priority is not extinguished for failing to pay off the association’s lien.

 

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, Community Impact, Strategic Link.