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The Impact: Ticket Bots, Office-to-Apartment Conversions, and Unspent Gift Cards

Mike McClanahan profile by Mike McClanahan

If you’ve ever had issues trying to use a gift card, trouble buying tickets to a concert, or problems with the purchase of a travel trailer – anything that made you say, ‘there ought to be a law’ – odds are that law would come through the House Consumer Protection and Business Committee or its senate counterpart.  

So far in 2024 that committee has reviewed bills that cover all of those situations, not to mention office-to-apartment conversions, adult entertainer workplace safety, and high-interest loans.

The Impact this week features an overview of notable bills and a panel interview with House Consumer Protection and Business Committee Chair, Rep. Amy Walen (D-Kirkland), and Ranking Member, Rep. Eric Robertson (R-Sumner). 

 “We met with the Department of Financial Institutions early last year and talked about new kinds of loan products that have entered the marketplace, mostly app based. And some of these are arranged by out of state banks. So a couple of concerns. Number one, Washington consumers are owing money and not to people who are not regulated under the state of Washington’s laws. To me, that is a problem. And number two, sort of a lack of transparency around who’s arranging the loan, who is financing the loan, and then who do our consumers actually get to complain to? They couldn’t complain to DFI, our Department of Financial Institutions, because our definition of loan needed to be fixed. So that’s what the bill seeks to do,” said  Walen.

“As technology evolves and business strategies evolve, there’s always something new that kind of pops up. But the lenders that are out of state that are online or app based, those in particular, there’s about 20 of them that practice and offer those products in the state of Washington. And there might be a bad apple in that basket of lenders and we need to get to that. But we also don’t need to throw out the entire basket in an effort to get to the one,” said Robertson. “I guess my interest in it is making sure that people are protected, but then also counterbalancing with, we don’t want to overregulate to where we’re stifling our businesses.”  

Later in the episode we’ll give you a rundown of bills that cleared the first two major deadlines of the 2024 Legislative Session.