January 19, 2012
A bill to increase the limit on the amount of public funds that credit unions can accept in the state of Washington took another step toward passage Tuesday, receiving a positive recommendation after a hearing in front of the Washington State Senate Financial Institutions, Housing & Insurance Committee.
SB 5913, entitled “An act relating to increasing the permissible deposit of public funds with credit unions and authorizing the deposit of public funds at federally chartered credit unions,” would allow federal credit unions to accept funds from public entities and increase the permissible deposit of public funds with credit unions to the federal deposit insurance limit of $250,000.
“All along Senate Bill 5913 has been a member-service issue for credit unions,” said Northwest Credit Union Association (NWCUA) Senior Vice President and General Counsel Stacy Augustine. “Every year the Association gets calls from one or more credit unions telling us that one of their public unit members has been forced to move its money to another financial institution—often a financial institution that’s less convenient for the government unit.”
Sponsored by Sen. Margarita Prentice, D-11, as well as the committee’s Chairman, Sen. Steve Hobbs, D-44, and Sen. Don Benton, R-17, the bill now heads to the Senate Rules Committee, where credit union advocates hope it will be recommended for a full vote in the Senate. While the bill still has several more potential barriers to clear, according to Mark Minickiello, Vice President of Legislative Affairs for the NWCUA, this also represents encouraging progress.
“Getting the bill through the Senate [Financial Institutions Committee] is just one step in the process,” Minickiello said. “But it’s an important hurdle we didn’t clear last year.”
Augustine agreed, saying that “in past years, getting the bill out of this committee had proven the most difficult.”
From here, SB 5913 has several deadlines to meet on its way to passage. Having already cleared its first policy committee before the Feb. 3 deadline, the bill will now have to be off the Senate floor by Feb. 14, meaning it now needs to be recommended by the Rules Committee, scheduled onto the Senate calendar and voted on by 5 p.m. on Feb. 14.
It then moves through a very similar process in the House and has just 10 days—until Feb. 24—to get out of committee in the House. The bill then has until March 2 to get through the House Rules Committee and receive a successful floor vote in the House.
The overarching deadline is March 8—the last day of the session. If SB 5913 has passed through all requisite committees by that point, any amendments to the bill made during its progress must be agreed to by both houses at that time. It would then go to Governor Christine Gregoire for her signature.