From a new credit union act in Idaho to pot banking and municipal deposits in Washington and a data security law in Oregon, the Northwest Credit Union Association said CUs have chalked up a number of key legislative wins in the region.

Unlimited Public Funds, Cannabis Banking Advance in Washington

On March 22, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee signed "historic legislation" allowing local governments greater freedom to place deposits in credit unions. Currently, municipal government deposits in credit unions are capped at $250,000. Under the new law, which takes effect in early June, municipalities in 34 of the state's 39 counties will be able to deposit unlimited public runds in credit union s located in counties populated by 300,000 or fewer people.

“This is watershed legislation,” Troy Stang, NWCUA president and CEO, said in a statement. “Free and fair markets can only thrive when consumers and the municipalities protecting their tax dollars have choice. Now, they will.”

Troy Stang,  NWCUA
Troy Stang, president and CEO of Northwest Credit Union Association

Earlier in the month, Gov. Inslee signed legislation exempting financial institutions that provide services to legal marijuana-related businesses, researchers, armored car services and laboratories from any state criminal law.

As of the end of 2017, 1,856 legal marijuana businesses were operating in the Evergreen State, generating more than $1.4 billion in sales and $315 million in tax revenue. However, the NWCUA asserted, federal law and Justice Department policies “saddle” the financial services industry serving legal cannabis businesses, with “layers of regulatory red tape.” As a result, these businesses are operating in high-cash situations.

According to the NWCUA, this legislation is expected to help get cash off the streets and into safe banking environments.

Oregon approves data breach legislation

The Oregon Legislature adjourned “sine die” eight days ahead of its constitutional deadline – but not before approving SB 1551, a data breach bill that was put together in direct response to last year's Equifax data breach. Under the new legislation, Oregon consumers will be able to place a credit freeze with each credit reporting agency without cost, at any time for any reason. The removal of a freeze, or temporary lifting of a freeze, also is free.

In addition, the bill will require organizations responsible for a data breach to notify all impacted consumers within 45 days, which will result in credit unions also receiving this critical information in a more timely manner.

Idaho Updates Credit Union Act

The last time the Idaho Credit Union Act saw any significant updates, the mid-1990s, it cost 32 cents to mail a letter; the Spice Girls were all the rage and credit unions in the state held $1.3 billion in assets and 389,210 members. Some 20 years and nearly a million members and $8.6 billion in assets later, credit unions successfully lobbied lawmakers to revisit the enabling legislation.

NWCUA said it worked with its member credit unions, the Idaho Department of Finance, and the Idaho legislative leadership to craft “targeted updates and modernization” of the act governing state-chartered credit unions.Among the changes signed into law by Gov. Butch Otter are updates to board, supervisory committee and bond requirements.

See Credit Union Journal’s previous coverage of updates to the Idaho Credit Union Act here.

“All of these wins were made possible by the steadfast advocacy of Northwest credit unions,” Stang said. “They worked in collaboration with us, creating a policy advancement agenda that best supports the 6.5 million Northwest consumers who have made the choice to be part of the cooperative, not-for-profit credit union movement. Northwest advocates were at the table during the planning process and showed up in force to tell their legislators how all of these bills will help Main Street, USA.”

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