Washington Legislative Update: Regular Session Ends Sunday

We are now in the final days of the 2015 legislative session. From now until adjournment, only matters necessary to implement the budgets, differences between the chambers, and matters related to the interim and the closing of the session may be considered. This Sunday, April 26 is the last day allowed for regular session under the state constitution.

Credit Union Bills

As we reported last week, both NWCUA supported Senate Bill 5757 and Senate Bill 5300 passed the legislature and will now be delivered to Governor Inslee to be signed into law. The bills take effect July 26, 2015. Association staff focus is now squarely on the budget.

Budget

It is undetermined whether the legislature will complete their work on time. Negotiations around the operating budget continue with the major differences between the House and Senate proposals being tax increases, the level of overall spending, whether to freeze or lower college tuition, and how to provide public employees with pay raises.

Although the Senate has passed both a revenue and spending plan, the House has not yet passed their revenue bill (which would raise $1.5 billion) causing some to believe they don’t have the 50 votes necessary. If the two chambers cannot come to an agreed upon budget before April 26, the legislature will likely need to be called into a special session.

Other bills we are tracking

Data Breach

Substitute House Bill 1078, the AG request legislation modifying notice requirements in cases of a data breach, passed the Senate on April 13 by a vote of 47-0 with 2 excused.  The bill will now be delivered to the Governor to be signed into law. The bill takes effect July 26, 2015.

The legislation strengthens Washington’s data breach notification law by:

  • Eliminating the blanket exemption for encrypted data;
  • Requiring consumer notification as immediately as possible and no later than 45 days whenever personal information is likely compromised;
  • Requiring that the Attorney General be notified within 45 days when a data breach occurs at a business, non-profit or public agency, enabling the Attorney General to compile centralized information about data breaches for law enforcement and consumers; and
  • Requiring businesses, non-profits and agencies, when reporting a breach, to provide consumers with basic information they can use to help secure or recover their identities.

Financial institutions in compliance with notification requirements under the GLBA are exempt from notification requirements unless more than 500 residents are affected by the breach, then they must report the breach to the Office of the Attorney General.

Unlike some other states, Washington has not required any centralized reporting to the state when a data breach occurs, resulting in a lack of robust information for law enforcement and consumers.

Financial Fraud

House Bill 1090, reauthorizing and expanding the Financial Fraud and Identity Theft Crimes Investigation and Prosecution Program, passed the Senate on April 13 by a vote of 48-0 with 1 excused. The bill will now be delivered to the Governor to be signed into law. The bill contains an emergency clause and takes effect on July 1, 2015.

The legislation:

  • Extends the Financial Fraud and Identity Theft Crimes Investigation and Prosecution Program (Program) until July 1, 2020.
  • Increases surcharges dedicated to funding of the Program; UCC Program filings are increased from $8 to $10 for paper filings and from $3 to $10 for electronic filings.
  • Expands the Central Puget Sound Financial Fraud and Identity Theft Task Force to include Snohomish County.

 

Patent Trolling

Substitute Senate Bill 5059, the AG request legislation creating the Patent Troll Prevention Act, passed the House on April 13 by a vote of 94-3 with 1 excused. The bill takes effect July 26, 2015.

The legislation:

  • Prohibits a person from making assertions of patent infringement in bad faith.
  • Authorizes the Attorney General to bring civil actions regarding bad faith patent assertions.

ABLE Act

Second Substitute House Bill 2063, requiring the State Treasurer to convene a work group to design an ABLE program passed the Senate on April 15 by a vote of 46-2 with 1 excused.  The bill takes effect July 26, 2015 and requires the State Treasurer’s Office to convene an ABLE program design workgroup and provide an implementation report to the Governor and Legislature by November 1, 2015.

Congress passed the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act in December 2014 exempting qualified ABLE savings programs established by the states from taxation.  Individuals are able to invest up to $14,000 per year in ABLE accounts. Withdrawals from the account are not taxed provided that the money is spent on qualified expenses, such as housing, education, transportation, health care, and rehabilitation.

Uber/Lyft

Engross Substitute Senate Bill 5550, regulating insurance for providers of commercial transportation services (like Uber or Lyft), passed the House on April 15 by a vote of 86-12.  Having been amended, the bill was then sent back to the Senate which concurred with the House amendments and passed the Senate on April 16 by a vote of 43-5 with 1 excused.  The bill takes effect July 26, 2015.

The legislation includes the Association’s three priorities of a bright line for when personal policy applies and when commercial policy applies, a notice to lien holders requirement so members must disclose their commercial use of the vehicle, and dual loss payee language to include both the vehicle owner and primary lien holder.

Electronic Signatures

Engrossed Substitute Senate Bill 5810 promoting the use, acceptance, and removal of barriers to the use and acceptance of electronic signatures by state agencies, passed the House on April 14 by a vote of 96-1 with 1 excused.  The bill takes effect July 26, 2015.

The Legislation states that:

  • Unless otherwise provided by law or agency rule, state agencies may accept electronic signatures with the same force and effect as that of a signature affixed by hand.
  • Each state agency may determine whether and to what extent it will create, generate, communicate, store, process, use, and rely upon electronic records and electronic signatures.
  • A state agency is not required to send or accept electronic records or electronic signatures for an agency transaction.
  • The Chief Information Officer (CIO) within the Office of Financial Management (OFM) must establish policies, standards, or guidance for electronic submissions and signatures, and a state agency’s policy or rule must be consistent with those established by the CIO.
  • The CIO is required to establish a website that maintains, or links to, an agency’s rules and policies for electronic records and signatures.

Payday Lending

Engrossed Substitute Senate Bill 5899 would replace the current payday lending laws with a new small consumer installment loan regulated by DFI.  After receiving a hearing before the House General Government & Information Technology Committee on April 6, the bill failed to be voted out before cutoff so future consideration is in question.  Although the bill is now technically dead, Senate Republican Leader Mark Schoesler (R-Ritzville) has said that a payday-lending plan could be part of any final budget deal.

Look for the Washington Legislative Week in Review each week in Anthem during legislative session which runs January 29 – April 26, 2015. Questions about this story? Contact James Pearson: 206.340.4790, jpearson@nwcua.org.

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