Washington Legislature Gavels Into Session

Hoping to avoid another year like 2015—in which the legislature ran three overtime sessions—lawmakers are getting down to business quickly in Olympia this week.

Education will be a major focus. Until the state’s school funding problem is solved, the Supreme Court’s $100,000 a day contempt order remains in place.

Even against that backdrop, the Northwest Credit Union Movement will continue to seek positive developments around continued charter enhancements, financial literacy and stronger criminal penalties in financial fraud cases, according to Mark Minickiello, Vice President of Legislative Affairs for the Northwest Credit Union Association.

“Our Credit Union Day at the Capitol is just four weeks out,” Minickiello said. “Legislators look forward to seeing the wave of yellow scarves as our passionate, grassroots army comes to Olympia. This is so important, because legislators want to hear from people who work in credit unions and who are members of credit unions.“

Registration for Washington Credit Union Day at the Capitol, February 4, is open online.

“We will continue educating lawmakers about the importance of evolving the Washington Credit Union Act, allowing credit unions to operate in the most effective and efficient manner,” Minickiello. “Ultimately this results in the best service to Washington’s 3.4 million credit union members.”

Minickiello shared highlights of the upcoming session with Anthem.

Public Funds

Since the passage of legislation in 2012 that allowed credit unions to become public depositaries for amounts up to the maximum level of federal deposit insurance, the limit has become a great impediment to public entities choosing credit unions and in certain parts of the state, credit unions are the only financial institutions servicing their public neighbors.

“We will continue to educate legislators about the importance of allowing Washington credit unions to accept unlimited public funds deposits,” said Minickiello.

Foreclosure

As foreclosure rates have now returned to pre-recession levels, it is expected that credit unions and other financial institutions, will engage the legislature to discuss the “right sizing” of the Foreclosure Fairness Act (FFA). The act was created in 2011 to help homeowners and lenders explore possible alternatives to foreclosure and reach a resolution whenever possible. The program is funded by fees paid by the financial institutions issuing notices of default on owner-occupied residential property in Washington State.

Financial Fraud

Credit unions will share information with lawmakers about the significant impacts of financial fraud on credit unions, and will support legislation calling for stronger criminal penalties.

Financial Literacy

Washington credit unions support legislation that encourages consumer savings and thrift, promotes increased financial education among all age groups, and supports efforts to teach personal financial management skills.

“As members of the Financial Education Public Private Partnership (FEPPP), we will continue to support legislation and identify strategies to increase the financial education of students,” Minickiello said.

The last day allowed for the 2016 regular session under the state constitution is March 10.

Questions about this story? Contact Lynn Heider: 503.350.2225, lheider@nwcua.org.

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