BILL REQ. #: Z-0744.1
|State of Washington||63rd Legislature||2014 Regular Session|
Read first time 01/16/14. Referred to Committee on Community Development, Housing & Tribal Affairs.
AN ACT Relating to preserving the integrity of veterans' benefit-related services; and adding a new chapter to Title 19 RCW.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF WASHINGTON:
NEW SECTION. Sec. 1 The legislature finds and declares that the
practice of persons using the allure of untapped benefits from the
United States department of veterans affairs to market products and
services substantially affects the public interest. This practice may
impact the ability of veterans or their surviving spouses to
appropriately plan their finances or care. The legislature further
finds that the lack of regulation of persons who provide advice related
to veterans' benefits is inadequate to address unfair and deceptive
practices that exist in the marketplace and has contributed to the
unauthorized practice of law and the use and marketing of financial
planning options that are potentially detrimental to the veteran, their
spouse, and family. It is the intent of the legislature, through this
chapter, to restrict how individuals receive compensation and
remuneration for providing assistance with veterans' benefit-related
services and to encourage certain disclosures from individuals offering
veterans' benefit-related services.
NEW SECTION. Sec. 2 The definitions in this section apply
throughout this chapter unless the context clearly requires otherwise.
(1) "Compensation" means money, property, or anything else of value, which includes, but is not limited to, exclusive arrangements or agreements for the provision of services or the purchase of products.
(2) "Person" includes, where applicable, natural persons, corporations, trusts, unincorporated associations, and partnerships.
(3) "Trade or commerce" includes the marketing or sale of assets, goods, or services, or any commerce directly or indirectly affecting the people of the state of Washington.
(4) "Veterans' benefit matter" means any preparation, presentation, or prosecution of a claim affecting a person who has filed or has expressed an intention to file an application for determination of payment, service, commodity, function, or status, entitlement to which is determined under laws administered by the United States department of veterans affairs or the Washington state department of veterans affairs pertaining to veterans, dependents, and survivors.
NEW SECTION. Sec. 3 A person may not engage in the following
acts or practices:
(1) Receiving compensation for advising or assisting another person with a veterans' benefit matter, except as permitted under Title 38 of the United States Code;
(2) Using financial or other personal information gathered in order to prepare documents for, or otherwise represent the interests of, another in a veterans' benefit matter for purposes of trade or commerce;
(3) Receiving compensation for referring another person to a person accredited by the United States department of veterans affairs;
(4) Representing, either directly or by implication, either orally or in writing, that the receipt of a certain level of veterans' benefits is guaranteed.
NEW SECTION. Sec. 4 (1) It is unlawful for any person to
advertise or promote any event, presentation, seminar, workshop, or
other public gathering regarding veterans' benefits or entitlements
that does not include the following disclosure: "This event is not
sponsored by, or affiliated with, the United States Department of
Veterans Affairs, the Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs,
or any other congressionally chartered or recognized organization of
honorably discharged members of the Armed Forces of the United States
or any of their auxiliaries. Products or services that may be
discussed at this event are not necessarily endorsed by those
organizations. You may qualify for benefits other than or in addition
to the benefits discussed at this event."
(2) The disclosure required by subsection (1) of this section must be in the same type size and font as the term "veteran" or any variation of that term as used in the event advertisement or promotional materials.
(3) The disclosure required by subsection (1) of this section must be disseminated, both orally and in writing, at the beginning of any event, presentation, seminar, workshop, or other public gathering regarding veterans' benefits or entitlements.
(4) The disclosure required by subsection (1) of this section does not apply where the United States department of veterans affairs, the Washington state department of veterans affairs, or any other congressionally chartered or recognized organization of honorably discharged members of the armed forces of the United States or any of their auxiliaries have granted written permission to the advertiser or promoter for the use of its name, symbol, or insignia to advertise or promote the event, presentation, seminar, workshop, or other public gathering.
NEW SECTION. Sec. 5 Nothing in this chapter applies to officers,
employees, or volunteers of the state, of any county, city, or other
political subdivision, or of a federal agency of the United States, who
are acting in their official capacity.
NEW SECTION. Sec. 6 The legislature finds that the practices
covered by this chapter are matters vitally affecting the public
interest for the purpose of applying the consumer protection act,
chapter 19.86 RCW. A violation of this chapter is not reasonable in
relation to the development and preservation of business and is an
unfair or deceptive act in trade or commerce and an unfair method of
competition for purposes of applying the consumer protection act,
chapter 19.86 RCW.
NEW SECTION. Sec. 7 If any provision of this act or its
application to any person or circumstance is held invalid, the
remainder of the act or the application of the provision to other
persons or circumstances is not affected.
NEW SECTION. Sec. 8 This chapter may be known and cited as the
"pension poacher prevention act."
NEW SECTION. Sec. 9 Sections 1 through 6 and 8 of this act
constitute a new chapter in Title