Bill allows contract cancellations when deploying for active duty
OLYMPIA — Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s bipartisan Attorney General request legislation to better support military consumers passed the Legislature today after a unanimous vote in the Senate. It will now head to the Governor for his signature.
House Bill 1056, sponsored by Rep. Christine Kilduff, D-University Place, passed the House of Representatives unanimously in January. Its companion bill, SB 6017, is sponsored by Sen. Joe Fain, R-Auburn.
“The men and women of our armed forces face unique challenges,” Ferguson said. “As someone who comes from a military family, it is important to do everything we can to support those who serve or have served our country. This legislation closes a gap in the law, ensuring military consumers don’t get stuck with contracts they can’t use because they are deployed or ordered to relocate.”
Military service members, including those serving in the National Guard or reserves, can experience significant upheaval when called to active duty or relocated. These abrupt changes can have significant impacts on routine financial commitments.
The legislation allows Washington service members called to active duty to cancel or suspend service contracts for gym memberships, internet services, subscription television services, telecommunications services and satellite radio services, without fear of penalty or fee.
The legislation also allows the reinstatement of the contract under previous or generally favorable terms. These protections apply to both National Guard and active duty military personnel.
“Soldiers and their families stand ready to deploy across the country and around the world to defend our freedoms every day,” Kilduff said. “They should be able to move on without having to face contract termination penalties and fees because they are serving our country. I am delighted this consumer protection legislation eliminating burdensome and unfair costs for military families is heading to the Governor’s desk.”
“The men and women of our military sacrifice a great deal to serve our country and must be ready to deploy or move anytime,” said Fain. “Strengthening our consumer protection law recognizes the unique nature of their service and will give them one less thing to worry about back home.”
HB 1056 builds on the Attorney General’s successful 2014 legislation, which created a state version of the federal Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA). That bill provided various financial and legal protections for military service members ordered to federal active duty, including reduced interest rates on preexisting debts, foreclosure and eviction protections, and protections from default judgments.
Standing up for Washington’s veterans and military families is a priority for Ferguson. Last session, he successfully championed legislation creating the Office of Military & Veteran Legal Assistance within the Attorney General’s Office, to promote and facilitate civil legal assistance for veterans and active members of the military.
Just yesterday, Ferguson announced the results of a sweep to crack down on illegal housing discrimination against veterans with disabilities, resulting in enforcement action against eight companies across the state.
Since taking office in 2013, he has also released a legal resource guide to help educate veterans and military service members about their rights, requested legislation to improve their legal protections and cracked down on unfair and deceptive schemes targeting veterans and military families.
The Office of the Attorney General is the chief legal office for the state of Washington with attorneys and staff in 27 divisions across the state providing legal services to roughly 200 state agencies, boards and commissions. Visit www.atg.wa.gov to learn more.
Brionna Aho, Communications Director, (360) 753-2727; email@example.com