Washington Credit Union Advocates Advance Fraud and Foreclosure Bills During Annual Credit Union Day at the Capitol

Thursday’s event saw record attendance by grassroots credit union advocates as 200 credit union professionals and members fanned out across the capitol complex. The result: they helped to advance bills on fraud and foreclosure. Both measures advanced out of their policy committees, beating the February 5 cutoff date.

February 5 was the deadline for bills to pass out of policy committees, with the exception of bills in the House fiscal committees, Senate Ways & Means Committee and Transportation committees, which have until February 9. All bills have until February 17 to pass out of their house of origin, before being considered “dead.”

Legislation Your Association is Tracking

Financial Fraud

House Bill 2899 and its companion measure, Senate Bill 5069, relate to the possession of instruments of financial fraud. The bills would make possession of a device that has the ability to capture, read, scan, store, record, transmit or receive financial information from an access device (such as magnetic card readers, skimming devices or ATM overlays) with the intent to commit financial fraud, a class C felony. HB 2899 received a “do-pass” recommendation from the House Public Safety Committee. The bill was referred to the House General Government & Information Technology Committee.

Foreclosure

House Bill 2876 addresses the foreclosure of deeds of trust. The bill amends the Foreclosure Fairness Act (FFA) which was created to help homeowners and lenders explore possible alternatives to foreclosure and reach a resolution whenever possible. As foreclosure rates have now returned to pre-recession levels, the bill “right sizes” the FFA so services, including counseling and mediation, remain available, and provision of these services is financially viable. The bill received a “do-pass” recommendation from the House Judiciary Committee on February 5 and was referred to the House Appropriations Committee.

Power of Attorney

Senate Bill 5635 relates to enacting the Uniform Power of Attorney Act (UPOAA). The bill repeals the Washington Power of Attorney Act in favor of the UPOAA, but with some differences. A power of attorney must be signed, dated, and either notarized or witnessed by a non-relative other than the principal’s caregiver. A power of attorney is assumed to terminate when the principal is incapacitated, so it is not assumed to be durable unless specific language in the document expressly provides that it survives the incapacity of the principal. The bill clarifies that no powers under Washington’s Death with Dignity Act may be exercised through a power of attorney. It also prohibits the agent from making health care decisions or giving informed consent for health care decisions on the principal’s behalf, unless the power of attorney expressly grants that authority to the agent and the exercise of authority is not prohibited by another instrument or agreement to which the authority is subject.

As the Bill is currently drafted, it would allow financial institutions to rely on a POA if there is no “actual knowledge” that the POA has been terminated or is otherwise invalid.

The Northwest Credit Union Association has concerns about testimony provided by a professor from the Gonzaga University School of Law that the bill should be amended to indicate that a party should not rely on a POA if they have “constructive knowledge” that a POA has been terminated or revoked. Should this testimony be adopted as an amendment to the bill at any point in the legislative process, the Association would have significant concerns as “constructive knowledge” is not defined in the Act, and financial institutions would be put in the position of interpreting the meaning of that term when relying on POAs. The bill received a “do-pass” recommendation from the Senate Law & Justice Committee on February 4 and was referred to the Senate Rules Committee.

Biometric Identifiers

House Bill 1094 concerning biometric identifiers would prohibit a person from capturing a biometric identifier of an individual for a commercial purpose unless the person informs the individual before capturing the biometric identifier and receives consent from the individual. Section 4 of the bill exempts financial institutions that are subject to title V of the Gramm Leach Bliley Act (GLBA) which includes credit unions. The bill passed the House during the 2015 legislative session but failed to pass the Senate so was returned to the House Rules Committee where it remains awaiting action*.

*Carryover

The Legislature works within the framework of a two-year cycle. Therefore, just because a bill did not make it all the way through both houses (House and Senate) during the first year, does not mean it is “dead.” At the end of the session, all bills in the second house are returned to the first house; so a House bill in committee in the Senate when session ends is returned to the House. At the start of the next session, bills from the previous session are reintroduced and retained in their present position. The Legislature has a lot of latitude with these “carryover” bills. The first house can place the bill on the calendar for a floor vote and send it right back to the second house, or it can make the bill go to a policy committee and through the whole process again.

Editors Note: You can see more photos from the event on our Facebook.

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

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