Advocacy Vigilance Protects Credit Unions’ and Members’ Concerns in Oregon Legislature

Last week’s special session saw legislation on mortgage foreclosure protection, remote notarization, expanded flexibility for Individual Development Accounts, and protection for CARES Act payments from garnishment.

6/30/2020

Picture of Oregon CapitolThe Oregon Legislature wrapped up its special session late Friday, passing several bills important to credit unions and members on Main Street. The headline for the Credit Union Movement isn’t lawmakers’ sprint to “Sine Die” in a fast-paced three-day session, but rather the marathon of negotiations beforehand to ensure credit unions voices were heard. 

An advocacy team, led by Pam Leavitt, the Northwest Credit Union Association’s Policy Advisor for Oregon State Advocacy and Grassrootsspent hours in conversations with lawmakers about the wide array of proposed bills.  

“We were able to get our key concerns addressed and we appreciate legislative leadership for the very important dialogue,” Leavitt said.  

House Bill 4204, foreclosure protection legislation, directs lenders to defer both residential and commercial mortgage payments during the pandemic through September 30, if the borrower is unable to pay due to COVID-19 impacts. Deferred payments would be due at the end of the loan, unless the borrower and lender agree to an alternate timelineCredit union concerns that were addressed during negotiations include capping the end date to Sept. 30, requiring borrowers to attest that their inability to pay is caused by COVID-19, and flexibility for lenders to work with borrowers to address when deferred payments are due.  

The legislature also approved a pilot program allowing remote notarization.  

“This is a win for credit unions and members,” Leavitt said. “Remote notarization allows financial transactions to be processed, while preventing the spread of COVID-19 and protecting the health and safety of members and notaries. It’s also a valued service for consumers who live in rural areas. 

Another legislative package expands flexibility for Individual Development Accounts to be used for emergency purposes. 

The legislature approved a bill to protect vulnerable Oregonians who receive CARES Act Recovery Rebate payments from garnishment actions initiated before Sept. 30. That date is in alignment with the CARES Act timeline. It was important to credit unions that the protection period in Oregon would not exceed deadlines established by the federal legislation. 

As a result of the economic trauma COVID-19 is causing for the state’s budget, another special session is likely in late July or August.  

“Credit unions have been working so hard to help their members who may be experiencing job losses, business closings, and other disruptions during this challenging time,” said Jennifer Wagner, NWCUA’s Executive Vice President and Chief Advocacy Officer. “This work is very meaningful to legislators. It’s important that credit unions make their elected officials aware of members’ needs and how you’re meeting, so we can continue successful advocacy.” 

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