FEDERAL WAY, Wash. and BEAVERTON, Ore. (5/12/11)--Washington state’s prize-linked savings bill was signed into law by Gov. Christine Gregoire Tuesday, surrounded by supporters who championed the bill through a difficult legislative session that is currently in special session. “With the household savings rates of Americans in a decade-long decline, this legislation law will allow financial institutions to encourage savings with innovative solutions,” said Northwest Credit Union Association (NWCUA) CEO John Annaloro. “Credit unions are seemingly the only group offering such innovative solutions to a complex societal trend.” The prize-linked savings bill was one of a hand-full of proposals that seem to be on a fast track through the Legislature, passing a House floor vote 91-2 and a Senate floor vote 46-0. “This (legislation) rewards thriftiness and that is a good thing,” said the bill’s prime sponsor, State Sen. Derek Kilmer (D-26), during the Senate debate. “This program doesn’t just encourage people to save, it’s actually shown to improve their saving habits. This isn’t a new government program.” The bill goes into effect 90 days after signing. “I think there were two real keys to getting the bill passed,” Stacy Augustine, NWCUA senior vice president and general counsel, told News Now in April when the bill passed the Washington House of Representatives and was sent to the state Senate. “Making sure legislators don’t perceive it as an expansion of gambling, and making sure the other financial institutions are included so that they don’t feel like credit unions are just creating another program to ‘steal’ their customers. Honestly, I don't think that other financial institutions will be terribly interested in offering the program, but it was important to include them so that they didn’t feel excluded from it. “Amending any state law that could be perceived as gambling is always a tricky venture, so the association is very pleased that the bill has been approved,” she had added. In a related matter, a Save to Win bill (SB 513) unaninmously passed the North Carolina Senate this week, and was referred to the North Carolina House.