Plain Language Movement Arrives in WA Legislature

State senators from both parties have shown an increased interest in simplifying certain contracts and user agreements that are used by a broad range of industries and organizations, including financial institutions, with a stated goal of helping ensure consumers are best able to understand the types of agreements they enter into and contract terms. Senate Bill 5855 (sponsored by Sen. Drew MacEwen, R-35th LD) and Senate Bill 6081 (Sen. Patty Kuderer, D-48) would both implement plain language requirements although cover different items and use different approaches.

Sen. MacEwen’s bill would require organizations to add a brief plain language summary exclusively to user agreements and terms and conditions explaining what was covered in the rest of the document. Sen. Kuderer’s legislation would require actual consumer contracts for services under $50,000 to be written in plain language.

While GoWest and Washington’s credit unions appreciate and recognize the value of consumers understanding what they are agreeing to both in their relationship with the credit union as well as their other financial arrangements, both bills left a number of questions and potential concerns, which GoWest communicated testifying on both bills in the Senate Energy, Environment, and Technology along with the Senate Law & Justice Committees.

GoWest has and will continue to work with sponsors and other lawmakers to modify the bills as needed due to the complexities stemming from existing federal and state regulatory conditions already in place as well as assure explicit clarity on how to comply, should either bill advance. GoWest is also in communication with the few other states that have had a similar in place for decades to gather the experience and feedback of credit unions in those states in determining our approach.

Posted in Advocacy on the Move, Washington Advocacy.