AB 857 and SB 528 advance in California

Jay Owen Community Development Solutions

Success for AB 857 and SB 528: California’s two public banking bills both advance in the 2019 legislatureOn April 24, California’s two pending public banking bills, Assembly Bill 857 and Senate Bill 528, both passed their second committee hearings in the state legislature. SB 528, which would convert California’s existing Infrastructure and Development Bank into a true depository bank, passed the Senate Banking Committee; while AB 857, a bill to more easily enable cities to charter public banks, passed the Assembly Local Government Committee. 

AB 857 passed its first hearing in the Assembly Banking and Finance Committee on Monday, April 22, after a robust debate between the bill’s co-authors, Assemblymembers David Chiu and Miguel Santiago, and Wall Street lobbyists. Susan Harman from Public Bank East Bay and the California Public Banking Alliance reports that at the committee hearing yesterday, April 24, a “cliff-hanger, last minute, crucial Yes vote” came in to pass the bill

The success followed an enormous groundswell of support for AB 857 from over 80 organizations (Facebook link) across California that have united to say yes to public banking. The Alliance posted: “The power of the people triumphs over Wall Street lobbyists! Thank you to our powerful coalition of activists and advocates who came out to support the public banking movement!”  
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Former Goldman Sachs banker says we need public banks and AB 857 Nomi Prins, author and former Goldman Sachs banker, writes in Truthout:“[I]t is more important than ever to create public banks tasked with using state and local funds for public good, not private profit. And my home state of California is leading the way. A new bill, AB 857, backed by the California Public Banking Alliance would give cities the freedom to start public banks accountable to the communities they serve. … 

“Public banks would allow cities to professionally manage their money without sacrificing their values.”
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Boulder City Council considers replacing Chase with a city-owned bankLike residents of many climate-aware cities, Boulder residents have been demanding that their city divest from JP Morgan Chase, and one of the options the City Council is exploring is a public bank. Chase is the single largest sponsor of the fossil fuel industry, according to a new report. On April 10, activists protested outside 21 Chase locations around Colorado, calling attention to the $63.9 billion in fossil fuel investments Chase made in 2018 alone. For three years running, the Wall Street megabank has been the number one U.S. financier of tar sands oil, arctic oil and gas, ultra-deep-water oil and gas, liquified natural gas (LNG), and coal mining projects. But they need an alternative, and starting their own bank is one of them.

Will Brendza quotes Councilmember Sam Weaver in the Boulder Weekly:“We’re looking for allies at the State House to give us more flexibility on where we can bank our money.”
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