Bill allows contract cancelations, better protections when deploying, moving
OLYMPIA — Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s proposal to better support military consumers passed the House of Representatives in an overwhelming, bipartisan 98-0 vote today. House Bill 1056 is sponsored by Rep. Christine Kilduff, D–University Place, and its companion, Senate Bill 5041, is sponsored by Sen. Michael Baumgartner, R–Spokane.
“The men and women of our armed forces face unique challenges,” Ferguson said. “As someone who comes from a military family, I believe it is important to do everything we can to support those who serve or have served our country. My proposal ensures 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.
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.
HB 1056 and SB 5041 amend the SCRA to fill gaps created by changing business practices.
The bill allows service members to cancel or suspend service contracts for:
- A gym membership or other health studio services;
- Internet services;
- Subscription television services;
- Telecommunications services; and
- Satellite radio services.
The legislation prevents service members from being charged penalties or fees when canceling or suspending a contract, and permits the reinstatement of the contract under previous or generally favorable terms.
It also adjusts the definition of “service member” so protections apply to both National Guard and active duty military personnel.
"Military families make extraordinary sacrifices for our country every day,” Kilduff said. “While they are incredibly flexible and easily adapt, a deployment or permanent change of station can come with many challenges. This bill supports our military families by making that process a little easier.”
“This is just another way for us to let those in uniform know that we got their back,” said Baumgartner. “These laws needed an update to recognize the many different services that military men and women could end up paying without using if they get the call to go serve.”
Standing up for Washington’s veterans and military families is a priority for Ferguson. Since taking office in 2013, he has 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.
Peter Lavallee, Communications Director, (360) 586-0725; PeterL@atg.wa.gov