A budget proviso in the current state budget has provided funds for the development of a business plan for an eventual Washington state public bank. The business plan is due to the legislature in June 2019. At the same time, Sen Bob Hasegawa, a long-time champion of public banking, has re-introduced his public banking bill (SB 5949) so as to be ready to move forward as soon as the completed business plan arrives in Olympia. The plan is slated to answer many of the questions the public has, as well as counter many of the objections brought forward by the banking industry. Some of these objections were voiced at an initial public hearing on the legislation on February 21st. The hearing was requested by Sen. Hasegawa to bring the bill to the attention of the public and legislators. The February 21 hearing is likely only the first of many on the bill as it wends its way through the legislative process.
This from the Public Banking Institute:
“Long-standing public bank advocate WA State Senator Bob Hasegawa introduced a bill this week, SB 5949, that would create a public state investment trust and a commission to oversee it. A public hearing [on], Feb 21, ... consider[ed] Hasegawa’s proposed amendment* that would allow municipalities and other political subdivisions to cooperatively own the trust.
This bill introduction follows a positive interim report issued in December by University of Washington’s Evans School of Public Policy and Governance, which concluded that: ‘Improvements can be achieved by creating a state-chartered public cooperative bank.’ “
At last week’s hearing, described above, Sen. Hasegawa gave an excellent rundown on the new public banking bill (view the video here) at 12:20 on the video counter. The new bill is an enhanced version of the one submitted during the last legislative session. Hasegawa says the new version has an expanded “intent statement” whose several paragraphs appear on the first page of the current bill, SB 5949, SECTION 1.
In the meantime, we can support the concept of public banking by urging discussion of resolutions at the city and county level in support of a state bank. Having a state bank will allow us to deposit our city and county funds in a publicly owned institution, thus returning their earnings to us and not to the commercial/investment banks. You can write to the Bellingham City Council at firstname.lastname@example.org and to the Whatcom County Council at email@example.com. Send them a copy of this article and ask that they begin discussions of public banking at city and county council meetings.
*EFFECT: Allows for cooperative ownership opportunity for municipalities and other political subdivisions with the approval of the governing council or commission.