New Public Banking Bill Introduced in Olympia - Hearing On January 28th

A public bank in Washington is sorely needed for infrastructure projects and more especially with COVID-19 and the resultant severe economic downturn.

A public bank in Washington is sorely needed for infrastructure projects and more especially with COVID-19 and the resultant severe economic downturn.

While several public banking bills are cooking in the legislative ovens of the U. S. Congress, a new bill (SB5188) to establish a Washington State Public Bank has been introduced by a group of state senators including Kuderer, Nguyen, Conway, Darneille, Das, Dhingra, Hasegawa, Hunt, Liias, Lovelett, Stanford, Wilson, C., Van De Wege, and Wellman. As you have read on this site before, Sen Hasegawa has been the champion of public banking in Washington for the past decade. This particular bill will set the public bank as a cooperative open to membership by government entities such as described below.

SB 5188 states in part:

“The legislature finds that a cooperative Washington state public bank would provide opportunities for state, local, and tribal government entities to competitively finance a broad array of public infrastructure and economic development projects, including housing, at competitive rates with low administrative costs. A cooperative state public bank will complement the existing banking system by filling gaps that the system cannot or will not fill, and it will be uniquely positioned to provide specialized technical assistance to the diverse needs of state, local, and tribal government entities.”

At least one major roadblock to a public banking bill was removed by the last election in which the obstructionist Republican State Treasurer Duane Davidson was voted out of office. Davidson was a robotic voice of support for private banking only and demonstrated an ignorance about public banking that was breathtaking. (See Washington State Treasurer Gaslighting on Public Banking) His successor, Democrat Mike Pellicciotti has expressed an interest in and openness to a public bank in this state.

To provide an idea of the benefits that come with a public bank in this state, the bill provides for financing of the following:

Infrastructure that the Bank may invest in (Sec. 1 (8))

roads and bridges

water and sewer systems

solid waste

pollution control


communications systems


mass transportation facilities

public housing

fire equipment

emergency services equipment

energy facilities

“other public infrastructure deemed eligible by the [operating] board”

goal of providing 35% of its lending each year to housing in low to moderate-income
areas, beginning five years after activation (Sec. 3 (10))

the Bank may also invest in economic development projects (Sec. 4 (15))

But the bill is not yet a law. A hearing on SB5188 will be held at 8:00 AM on January 28th before the Senate Committee on Business, Financial Services & Trade. If it is anything like previous bills on public banking before this committee, you can expect a parade of naysayers and paid lobbyists as was the case exactly a year ago on January 28th when a previous public banking bill came before the same committee.

Those reading this can assist in the passage of this bill on public banking by contacting their state senator or by encouraging local city and county councils to adopt resolutions of support as has done the Bellingham City Council last year at this time.

About Dick Conoboy

Citizen Journalist and Editor • Member since Jan 26, 2008

Dick Conoboy is a recovering civilian federal worker and military officer who was offered and accepted an all-expense paid, one year trip to Vietnam in 1968. He is a former Army [...]

Comments by Readers

Christopher S Hudson

Jan 22, 2021

This is hopeful news, thanks for reporting on it. Whenever I mention the need for a State Bank for Washington with fellow citizens I generally get a blank look followed by any variation of “.... don’t we have enough banks already?”

There is a general lack of information about how badly we are served by the Banksters. A return to more local control and consequent savings is only the beginning of the benefits of having a WA State Bank. There is pride and empowerment in local investment as well.

Monopolistic rip-off practices by Big Banks and profit-based practices by regional banks contribute to local problems. Having a State Bank as a public utility would be no different than having water or sewer treatment as a public utility… we should have high speed internet as a publicly regulated utility also.

Anytime any of us has more financial control over our lives the better off we’ll be…. Public Banking is a good step in that direction.


Dick Conoboy

Jan 22, 2021


Agreed.  It will be interesting to see what comes of the bills now in Congress on public banking and postal banking. 

Speaking of money.  It too should be treated as a publicly controlled asset.  No private banks at all.  Money, water, oil, air, etc. are part of the commons and should be in the hands of the people, not corporations.


Christopher S Hudson

Jan 22, 2021

Speaking of The Post Office and Postal Banking:

Instead of the unctious blather heard in high places of “healing”, “unity” and so on, how about a huge push to actually fix the damn U.S. Postal Service! There’s a reason why zealous privatization ideologues disdain dialog about the Commons and it’s got nothing to do with helping americans to live fruitful free lives with high quality educations, good paying jobs, affordable homes and relief from burdensome debt.

Make the Post Office Great Again! could be true bipartisanship.


Dick Conoboy

Jan 23, 2021

For all readers of this article who wish to express their support for SB5188:

The SB 5188, CREATION OF THE WASHINGTON STATE PUBLIC BANK was introduced and has a public hearing on Jan 28 at 8 AM

If you would like to make your voice known for “support” or “oppose” on the creation of a public bank in WA,


1) Go to the bill remote testimony web page,

2) Select “Business, Financial Services & Trade” committee

3) Then select “1/28/2021, 8 AM meeting”

4) Select Type of Testimony: I would like my position noted for the legislative record

5) Enter “Support” or “Oppose” after entering your address information

Or write your comment on SB5188 at

SB 5188 document is at


Jon Humphrey

Jan 25, 2021

Thanks for this article Dick. I wrote in support of public banking. As we’ve talked about before, public banking is very important for infrastrcuture projects in general.

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