Florida Update:

Lawmakers have closed the books on the end of Week 7, leaving two scheduled weeks remaining for the 2018 Legislative Session. There was little public progress on budget negotiations last week as conversations around legislative reaction to the Parkland tragedy dominated legislator time and attention. Those conversations culminated in the release of initial legislative proposals by the Governor and both the House and Senate on Friday. Hearings on components of those proposals are scheduled for early this week.

A proposal to add a standalone high school financial literacy class to Florida’s course offerings moved through the House Education committee last Wednesday. Unlike the Senate version, which would make the course a graduation requirement, HB 323 by Rep. Heather Fitzenhagen (R-Fort Myers) would establish the program as a voluntary elective for students. The League advocacy team testified in committee, expressing full support for financial literacy for high school students but voiced concern that the course wouldn’t be required. Several members on the committee spoke up to protest the fact that the financial literacy component did not create a mandatory course, but ultimately passed the bill to keep the issue alive. The Senate companion bill, SB 88 by Sen. Dorothy Hukill (R – Port Orange) passed the full Senate the first week of session. There is still a good chance to match up the bills on the floor to include the language for making the course a requirement rather than an elective.

HB 953 by Rep. Shawn Harrison (R – Tampa) passed the house floor last week. This legislation would allow a data breach victim or a consumer wanting to protect themselves from fraud to freeze their credit report without paying a fee. Florida law currently allows credit report agencies to charge a fee of up to $10 to freeze credit reports, and data breach victims are required to submit paperwork to prove their identity is in jeopardy to avoid paying the fee. The Senate companion, SB 1302 by Sen. Jeff Brandes (R – St. Petersburg), will be heard in the Rules committee today, its final stop before it goes to the Senate floor. This measure is a priority of Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis and Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam.

HB 857 by Rep. Jamie Grant (R – Tampa) passed its final committee stop last week and now heads to the full House. This bill is backed by the payday lending industry and the League was in committee with other stakeholders to oppose this proposal. An Action Alert was sent out to credit unions who have a lawmaker(s) from their district sitting on the committee. The Senate companion, SB 920 by Sen. Rob Bradley (R – Orange Park), will also be heard today in the Senate Rules committee, its final stop before it goes to the Senate floor.

With the aging of the U.S. population, financial exploitation of seniors is a serious and growing problem. SB 662 by Sen. Kelli Stargel (R – Lakeland) will be heard today in Senate Rules and the House companion, HB 681 by Rep. Byron Donalds (R – Naples), is ready for a floor vote. This proposed legislation authorizes a dealer, investment adviser, or associated person to place a delay on a financial transaction or disbursement when there is a reasonable belief that exploitation of a vulnerable investor has occurred, is occurring, or has been attempted.

There are still big issues to be tackled in these final weeks. The League will continue fighting for the credit union industry throughout the closing two weeks of session.

Alabama Legislative Session Update: Week 7

The Alabama Legislature continues to work on the 2018 Legislative Session and if they stay true to their word, there could be only 5 weeks left until they adjourn for the year and head home to campaign.  The major development with regards to when the legislature plans to adjourn is that the Senate passed the General Fund Budget this past week and sent it to the House.  Now each of the budgets have passed one chamber of the Alabama Legislature and are quickly making their way through the process.

Legislation we told you about last week also seems to be on the move is data security legislation, HB 410 by Rep. Phil Williams and SB 318 by Senator Arthur Orr. Both bills were just recently introduced and now both bills have been given favorable reports by their respective committee.  This is certainly good news for credit unions because the main hurdle in Alabama has been simply getting a law on the books dealing with notification standards and these bills do just that.  Obviously, we would like to see stricter penalties and reimbursement provisions, but if one of these bills passes in 2018, the stage for stricter standards is set for the future.  Your LSCU Advocacy Team will continue to work to see this legislation pass.

Another piece of legislation that finally seems to be moving is HB 316 by Rep. Mack Butler, updating a few provisions of the Alabama Credit Union Act.  HB 316 passed out of the House Financial Services Committee last week and we hope to see it on the floor of the entire House as soon as possible.  The two provisions of the bill that are of note to credit unions deal with merger votes and 3rd party reports.  First, the legislation will allow each credit union to establish the procedure of voting on a potential merger in their bylaws.  That type of vote is currently required to take place in person and that has caused some troubles for credit union members.  The other section deals with 3rd party reports required for compliance.  Currently the credit union is the only authorized entity that can request and receive reports for 3rd parties or vendors.  The new change would allow the credit union or its designee, could be outside council for example, to request and receive the reports.  For credit unions that are having difficulty obtaining required information from 3rd parties, this new provision could add some teeth to a request.  The companion to HB 316, SB 300 by Sen. Slade Blackwell, will be in committee on Wednesday.

Finally, your LSCU Advocacy Team continues to work on SB 138 and seeing meaningful reform of the payday lending industry.  There was no new movement this past week and the key to getting a vote on the Senate floor will be convincing Senate Leadership there will be no filibuster on the bill.  Right now, payday advocates are trying to just that, line up their supporters to talk on the legislation forcing leadership to either not place it on the Senate calendar or remove it when it is on the calendar.  A vote could occur this week and we are pushing for one as soon as possible.  As always, a copy of the bill can be found here and we encourage all credit unions to contact their Senators and ask them to support SB 138.

Be on the lookout next week for more session news and please do not hesitate to reach out to any Advocacy Team member if you have questions or would like more information on any legislative issues.
If you have any questions, please contact any member of your Advocacy Team:
Jared Ross, SVP of Association Services
Jennifer Martin, Senior Director of Governmental Affairs
Jordan Burroughs, Political Affairs Coordinator