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WA Credit Unions: Lift Cap on Public Funds for Our Institutions

Credit union advocates are in Olympia for their annual Capitol day. (Northwest Credit Union Association)
Credit union advocates are in Olympia for their annual Capitol day. (Northwest Credit Union Association)
January 24, 2018

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Credit union advocates are in Olympia Wednesday calling for reform to public funding in Washington state.

This year, these institutions are pushing for a bill that would lift the $250,000 cap on government agencies' deposits into credit unions.

Paula Sardinas, vice president for legislative affairs in Washington for the Northwest Credit Union Association, says more than 20 entities across the state, including police departments and school districts, are asking lawmakers to get rid of the limit.

Sardinas says because banks are the only option, they sometime turn down agencies with small amounts of funds.

"They can't go and shop that or put that out to bid,” she points out. “They're basically forced to drive anywhere from two to four hours in the state of Washington, at a cost to taxpayers, to find the next bank who can take those funds."

Substitute House Bill 1209 has passed the House and is awaiting Senate approval.

Nationally, 21 other states don't limit public funding deposits into credit unions.

As part of their day at the State Capitol, advocates also are honoring legislators from each party as "credit union champions."

Sardinas says many local communities go underserved financially because of the artificial cap on credit unions.

"What we'd like to do is to encourage the Legislature to give the communities more access, more choice, more competition so that they can get better rates on those funds, they can go to financial institutions that are local, and we can continue to return those values to the community," she states.

Credit union advocates also are supporting bills in the House and Senate that would exempt financial institutions that provide services to legal cannabis businesses from criminal prosecution by the state.

Sardinas says the bills promote public safety and have gained the support of both parties, as well as the police and sheriffs’ association.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - WA