With recent action at the federal level, interest and advocacy for public banking may gain more traction with the public as well as state legislatures across the U.S. Here are the recent developments in the U.S. House and Senate regarding public banking & related bills:
HR 6422 Infrastructure Bank Act “To facilitate efficient investments and financing of infrastructure projects and new job creation through the establishment of a National Infrastructure Bank, and for other purposes.”
HR 8721 Public Banking Act “To provide for the Federal charter of certain public banks, and for other purposes.”
S 3571 Banking for All Act “To require member banks to maintain pass-through digital dollar wallets for certain persons, and for other purposes.”
S 4614 Postal Banking Act “To amend title 39, United States Code, to provide that the United States Postal Service may provide certain basic financial services, and for other purposes.”
The Postal Banking Act will bring welcome relief to individuals who cannot get accounts in commercial banks or, if they can, are often severely penalized for low balances and bounced checks along with similar confiscatory practices and gouging of account holders. We have had postal banks in the past that have been taken down by the actions of the government along with the private banksters and their lobbies. (“Postal Savings Banks: Allowing Immigrants and Workers to Invest Savings”)
The other bills cited above largely have to do with public banking for government entities. Of prime note, the Public Banking Act (HR 8721) was introduced into the U.S. House of Representatives by Congresswomen Rashida Tlaib (MI-13) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14) with these and other provisions:
-“Allows the Secretary of the Treasury and the Federal Reserve Board to provide public banks grants for: bank formation, capitalization, developing financial market infrastructure, supporter operations, covering unexpected losses, and more without the requirement to provide matching funds.
-Allows the Federal Reserve to charter and grant membership to public banks, and in conjunction with the appropriate federal agencies, establish a separate regulatory scheme with respect to these.
-Establishes public banking incubator program to provide technical assistance to public member banks to develop technologies, practices, and data that promote public welfare.
-Establishes new liquidity and credit facilities at the Federal Reserve to provide direct federal support to state and local public banks and their communities;
These bills will also confer legitimacy to public banking efforts in the various states. We already have the Bank of North Dakota and the Chickasaw Community Bank of Oklahoma, both of which have been in existence for a century. Recently, American Samoa established its own pubic bank and the California legislature authorized counties and municipalities to create their own banks - The (California) Public Banking Act. Dozens of other states either have legislation pending or have movements to establish public banks. Washington state, thanks to the efforts of state Senator Bob Hasegawa, should have a bill to create a state public bank before the legislature this year. State Treasurer Duane Davidson (R) was defeated by state Representative Michael Pellicciotti (D) who will become Washington’s new treasurer. During his tenure, Davidson actively sought to defeat efforts to create a public bank, while Pelliciotti is much more open to the idea and even brought up the topic during a post-election meeting with his supporters several weeks ago which I attended.
Local efforts to bring the concept of public banking to the fore included appearances by Hasegawa at the Bellingham City Club, the Bellingham City Council and the Whatcom County Council. The Bellingham City Council then quickly passed a resolution in support of a public bank for Washington state.
There is also a public banking caucus in the state Senate consisting of several dozen senators, among whom is our own Senator Liz Lovelett of the 40th District. A list of the caucus members as of last July can be found below.
NWCitizen will provide updates on this issue throughout 2021. Stay tuned.