Wednesday, September 14, 2011

State Bank/ Legislative Session

Please see email sent to Tom Campbell on AB 750. Small Business California has not taken a position on this and will discuss at our next Board meeting this week. What are your thoughts on a state bank. Is this a good idea and will it help small business or do you see this as another intrusion by government into the private sector?

The California legislative session closed late Friday night and bills that have passed both the Assembly and Senate now go to the Governor. He has 30 days to sign or veto.
Of note AB 29 passed creating the Office of Small Business Development. Also AB155 the Amazon bill was amended to delay collection of sales taxes by On Line out of state retailers until September 2012. The goal is to get a National policy of out of state On Line companies collecting sales tax for each state which would replace the California provision.

In President Obama’s speech he talked about reforming regulations in the Capital markets which would help small businesses. Small Business California’s capital access committee is working hard on this and looking to develop a policy proposal which would establish a small and medium size business Self Regulatory Organization to meet the needs of small and medium size business not just Wall Street. The President’s speech was encouraging showing his interest in addressing this problem.

(I am also including an email below from Michael Sauvante, Executive Director of the COMMONWEALTH GROUP for reference)

Scott Huge
Small Business California

I have some news for you on a parallel front with respect to our SRO concept. It concerns a topic I was deeply involved in before I shifted focus to small business capital markets and securities regulations, as you will note at the end of this message from all the writing I did on the following topic.

In this case it concerns the idea of the state (of CA) forming its own bank (based on a North Dakota model) to address credit issues here in California. 14 or so states are now looking into this idea.

With respect to California, Assembly Bill AB 750* was introduced to authorize a group to study the idea. In spite of some original questions about it, recent momentum built unexpectedly quickly for the bill and AB750 not only came out of committee, but it has already been passed by both houses with strong bi-partisan support, and it is off to the governor for signature (who may need encouragement to sign it).

I am sending a copy of this message to Scott Hauge as well, as I believe it would be beneficial to get the SB Cal network involved and have the California small business community encourage the governor to sign it. Here is a link to do so.

The core of this bill is to authorize a blue-ribbon task force to investigate and study the pros and cons of the state of California establishing its own state owned bank, replicating the model of North Dakota. For over 80 years now, the Bank of North Dakota (BND) has served as a mini-Fed to that state and its community banks. It is noteworthy to point out that North Dakota has the healthiest economy in the country by far, and the only variable that can reasonably account for that (as compared to every state with similar economic conditions as North Dakota’s) is the presence of the state bank.

Here are two relevant articles on BND and how California might benefit from following their example.

“North Dakota’s Economic “Miracle”—It’s Not Oil” (which lays out the premise for a state owned bank and its economic benefit to the state) and “What a Public Bank Could Mean for California” (which talks about the above AB750 bill and applies the Bank of North Dakota model to California and why it would be beneficial to California and it economy).

Both of these articles were written by Ellen Brown, the nation’s chief proponent of public banking, like that demonstrated by North Dakota. She is the author of Web Of Debt and numerous articles about public banking. Ellen is also the Chairman and President of the Public Banking Institute, which is leading the effort to promote the concept of public banking here in the United States. I am on their advisory committee.

Tom, you will note in the first article that it makes reference to writings on this topic by one of your own Chapman University Law School professors, Prof. Tim Canova. Here is an article he wrote on the topic: The Public Option: The Case for Parallel Public Banking Institutions. I am sending him a copy of this message, as he may well also like to know about the SRO concept that we have discussed. If you are so inclined, perhaps he might like your thoughts on the merits of the SRO project.

It may also be of interest to you both that the PBI website contains a page that addresses a number of common misperceptions about the idea of publicly owned banks, including the common one that somehow such a bank would compete with private banks. With respect to the later assumption, the reality in North Dakota is that there “is a very strong public-private partnership that increases the profitability and stability of the local community banks”. Those common misperceptions and responses to them can be found here.

Finally, if you would like to explore more ideas on this whole concept of public banking (i.e. banks owned for public benefit by either government entities or non-profit organizations, or hybrids of both) see this section on my website entitled “An Evolution in Banking”.

As you will note from some of those writings, this idea is not limited to states. Counties might also jump on the idea and in fact, we have a group here in Santa Barbara county that is exploring the prospects of introducing that idea here in Santa Barbara County. We’re having a strategy meeting in Santa Maria this Monday to discuss it. I will keep you posted on the results.

Here are some relevant links to California’s bill. All AB750 documents and history can be found here:

Thanks and best regards,

Michael Sauvante
Executive Director


650-641-1246 office
805-757-1085 cell
Skype: michael.sauvante
info on securities regulations:

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