WORKING FOR CHANGE
One of the most effective ways to achieve justice for consumers is to change harmful laws and policies. We work with and lobby legislators at the local, state, and national levels to effect change.
Our Advocacy Work
With the support of our partners and allies, NWCLC has developed and championed these bills, to further our mission.
Keeping people in their homes
Governor Inslee signed SB 5408 into law on May 12, 2021, raising the homestead exemption to the county median sale price.
The homestead exemption keeps people in their homes during tough times. When filing for bankruptcy, a debtor can protect the equity in their primary residence up to a certain limit. If the value of the home is less than the limit, the bankruptcy trustee cannot seize and sell the home. The exemption also protects small businesses struggling to stay afloat in the face of COVID-19 shutdowns.
At $125,000—a figure last updated in 2007—Washington's homestead exemption was one of the nation's lowest. The passage of SB 5408 helps restore homestead fairness to Washington by:
- Raising the homestead exemption from $125,000 to the median value per county of a single-family home.
- Ensuring bankruptcy filers won't lose their homestead exemption due to property value increases after the date of filing.
Keeping creditors at bay during crisis
The Fair Shot Act, a bill to increase the personal property exemption, is before the Washington State legislature.
When filing for bankruptcy, a debtor can protect the equity in their personal property up to a certain limit. If the value of the property is less than the limit, the bankruptcy trustee cannot seize and sell that property. The National Consumer Law Center, gives our state a "C" grade for protecting the personal property of working families.
If passed, The Fair Shot Act would increase the exemption and help ensure that:
- Working families keep their cars
- People keep enough money in their bank account to cover rent and necessities
- Small business owners keep the tools they need to run their business
- Injured people protect their compensation for pain and suffering
2023 Legislative Priortites
The following are bills created by NWCLC's partner organizations that we have signed onto and are supporting as an organization.
Warranties for used cars
House Bill 1184 will enact the Used Motor Vehicles Express Warranties Act, which would help protect low income people from auto fraud.
This new bill would require used motor vehicle dealers to provide an express warranty for used motor vehicles in specific circumstances. The warranty requires that the used car is substantially free of any defects that would significantly limit the use of the vehicle.
Currently, the communities NWCLC serves have minimal options when they purchase a used car that presents mechanical or safety issues several months after purchase. HB 1184 will empower NWCLC to better serve low income families subjected to automobile fraud. As such, NWCLC strongly supports the passage of HB 1184.
Equality between private and public debt collection.
HB 1666 will prevent unfair practices in debt collection, reduce fees and give public debt collection the same regulations as private debt collection.
Public debt collection should have the same rules and regulations as private debt collection, currently debt collectors are able to add on up to 50% in fees of outstanding debt. When consumers are faced with debt, the idea is to get them back debt and stress free as soon as possible. With HB 1666 the fee would drop down to up to 9%.
HB 1666 will make much needed changes in debt collection practices that are consumer-focused, it also aims to further prevent deceptive and illegal practices such as "using any false, deceptive, or misleading representation or means in connection with the collection of any claim; or using unfair or unconscionable means to collect or attempt to collect any claim." NWCLC opposes the provision the pay to pay provision within HB 1666, but supports the other consumer protections in the bill and advocates for passage without the pay the pay provision.
Protecting accident victims from debt
SB 5059 will provide relief for fault-free victims of reckless driving while they wait for their case to settle.
Prejudgment interest (PJI) — interest on the damages awarded to victims of reckless driving — is currently only given to the victim after they take their case to court. However, lawsuits can take years to resolve, leaving the victim with piling debt. Currently, 46 states have broader PJI than Washington.
Fault-free victims of reckless driving should be compensated from the day they were injured and left unable to work. This bill, presented by the Washington State Association For Justice would change the Washington Law to provide interest starting the day the victim is injured.
Support Our Work
By making a donation, you'll help ensure our team is able to continue fighting for change.
Questions about our advocacy work?
Get in touch with our staff.