Oregon Legislative Update: 2017 Session in Review

7/18/17

The Oregon Legislature adjourned on July 7, just a few days before July 10, the constitutional date required by law. Legislators balanced the budget, but could not reach an agreement on long-term changes to spending and revenue. The session’s biggest accomplishment was HB 2017, a $5.3 billion transportation bill.

The diligent work of your Association’s advocacy team ensured credit unions had a prominent voice in legislative conversations this session. Following is a summary of this session’s most significant issues and progress on credit union priorities.

The Oregon Credit Union Act

“Every two years, Oregon state- and federally-chartered credit unions come together to review the Oregon Credit Union Act, all with a focus on making updates that benefit their members,” said Pam Leavitt, the Northwest Credit Union Association’s Policy Advisor, Oregon State Advocacy and Grassroots. “It’s critical that the law remains responsive to the many changes in the financial services industry.”

In the 2017 session, HB2161—the bill updating the Oregon Credit Union Act—was reviewed and supported by credit unions across the state and by your Association. We also reviewed the proposal with our regulator at the Division of Finance and Corporate Securities.

The bill makes four changes to the Oregon Credit Union Act, including: allowing our regulator to set the minimum number of board meetings, making important changes to process of submitting bylaw changes to DCBS, updating rules on closing members’ accounts, and updating the federal parity provisions in Oregon law.

This bill passed the Oregon House and Senate unanimously and was signed into law by the governor on May 15. It goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2018.

General Session Issues

Health Care: The Oregon Legislature approved a package of bills that will fund the Oregon Health Authority and protect health care for thousands of low-income Oregonians covered by the Oregon Health Plan. HB 2391 creates the funding to cover more than 350,000 Oregonians added to the Affordable Health Plan under the Affordable Care Act. It will raise $673 million in revenue.

Transportation: Governor Brown and legislators agreed that one of the top priorities this session was approval of a comprehensive transportation package. The Legislature approved a $5.3 billion, 10-year transportation package. HB 2017 also provides funding for transit, multi-modal, bicycle, and pedestrian paths.

Employment: Oregon will become the first state to implement a “Fair Work Week” law, providing employees with predictability regarding when they are required to work. SB 828 establishes employee work scheduling standards for certain employers with 500 or more employees in retail, hospitality, or food service industries. The bill requires that employers give a written estimate of work schedules seven days before the first day of that week’s work.

Education Budget: SB 5517 passed the House by a 31-28 vote, and the Senate by a 25-5 vote. The $8.2 billion budget is an 11.2 percent increase from the last biennium. The vote came after months of work by Democrats to pass a package of proposals to stabilize school funding by reducing government spending, lowering PERS costs, and overhauling the state’s business tax structure.

Ballot Issues: At the end of the session, the House and Senate also passed the controversial SB229. Rep. Julie Parrish (R-West Linn) threatened to refer the Medicaid tax measure to voters. Democratic leaders scrambled to write legislative language in Senate Bill 229 that would allow legislators to write ballot titles for the referrals and schedule them for a vote at a special election Jan. 23, 2018.

Finance-Related Bills of Interest

Following are a few of the more than 75 bills in the Oregon House and Senate that your Association tracked on behalf of Northwest credit unions.

HB2229: We testified in support of Rep. Gene Whisnant’s bill to increase financial literacy efforts in Oregon. HB2229 supports credit unions’ continuing goals to teach the basic principles involved with earning, spending, saving, and investing.

SB254: SB254 requires financial institutions to develop data-match agreements with the Department of Revenue to identify assets held at financial institutions by delinquent debtors.  Oregon credit unions worked on this bill to enhance the Department of Revenue’s ability to collect tax obligations efficiently.

HB2622: This bill authorizes a financial institution to refuse certain transactions when the financial institution believes financial exploitation of a vulnerable person may have occurred, may have been attempted, or is being attempted. Recognizing the financial abuse of elders is a crucial step in combating it. Our diligent training will put credit unions in a position to help their elderly members and continue to allow credit unions to uphold their members’ trust.

HB2463: This bill permits ODOT to allow credit unions to participate in the DMV’s Electronic Vehicle Registration Program. We believe HB2463’s passage will create efficiencies for all interested parties. We will continue to work with DMV as they look to upgrade their systems and improve efficiencies.

HB2581: HB2581 addresses the growing problems associated with data security breaches that compromise the confidentially of financial and personal information of credit unions and their members. This bill had a hearing in the House Business and Labor Committee, but did not pass.

Posted in Advocacy News.