Town Hall Update, Election Year Restrictions, and Protecting Consumers.

Friends and neighbors,

Since you last heard from me, we’ve had a slight change in the location of our in-person town hall on Wednesday at North Seattle College to the College Center Building. Parking, the bridge from Northgate light rail, and bus stops are close by (and parking will be free for the evening). My seatmates and I are looking forward to hearing from you on the issues that matter to you. Some of the issues I know people will be looking to discuss or have updates on include Seattle schools and special education funding, college access, public health, and affordable housing.

Last spring, a constituent asked us a question which led to us introducing and passing legislation to ensure that people leaving prison are provided with state ID so they can get jobs and housing.

We hope to see you there.

Election Year Activity (EYA) Restrictions

During an election year, there are certain restrictions on all legislators’ communications to prevent the use of state resources for election purposes. Some of these restrictions include freezes on email updates, websites, and Facebook Pages. This means that you will not be receiving updates from me beginning May 6, 2024, until after the general election in November. As a result, this is the last official email update you’ll receive from me for a while. However, you can still reach out to my office with questions, requests for meetings, or to deliver messages to me. I can and will respond.

Your questions about consumer protection

I have heard from a number of you about the need for protections for consumers on gift card loopholes I agree. Some Washingtonians have been exploited due to gift card loopholes used by retail corporations in our state. There is an estimated $23 billion in unspent gift cards nationwide, which many corporations count on to pad their profits. Starbucks reported $212 million in revenue from unspent cards in 2022 alone! Other companies eat away the value of your gift cards with fees for lack of use, while others hold on to your funds by having high “recharge” minimums.

I cosponsored both House Bill 2094 and House Bill 2095 to take action to protect Washington’s consumers. These pieces of legislation would be significant steps forward in reducing the incentives for large companies’ predatory and deceptive practices toward consumers.  The bills included stipulations that:

  • Require big corporations to notify consumers about unspent gift cards.
  • Continue to prohibit gift card expiration dates.
  • Prohibit high minimums for gift card and mobile app reloads.
  • Allow consumers to cash out gift cards under $50.
  • Require unspent gift card balances to be classified as unclaimed property (which you can easily get cashed out by Washington’s Department of Revenue) and ensure these funds benefit the public if not cashed out.

As you might expect, there was a large-scale lobbying press against these bills. Although both bills did not move out of the policy committee this year, I am dedicated to getting the bills passed in future legislative sessions. Again, thank you for taking the time to contact me and I hope you will continue to share your views with our office. I greatly value the input from our neighbors in the 46th.

Click here to see if Washington State is holding unclaimed funds for you!

Again, please reach out if you have questions, comments, concerns, or ideas. Your thoughts inform my legislative work and I want to hear from you. I believe government works best when elected officials have a transparent, accessible, and collaborative relationship with the residents of the districts they represent. I look forward to hearing from you.

Otherwise, I wish you well this summer and fall and look forward to reaching out to you again in December.

Thanks again,

Rep. Gerry Pollet