“Low-income communities have borne the brunt of systemic racism in our financial institutions…”

A public bank can help change that. “YES” on AB 1177

This is a really interesting video.

Action #1 – Make the call.

Minimal script: I’m calling from [zip code] to tell Asm./Sen. [___] to vote “YES” on AB 1177 when it comes before you.

More script if you want it: This bill is important to me.”Providing adequate banking services is a social responsibility of any decent, humane and economically efficient society — and AB1177 is a partial recognition of that fact.


  • State Senator Monique Limón (SD-19): SAC (916) 651-4019, SB (805) 965-0862, OX (805)988-1940 email
  • State Assemblymember  Steve Bennett: (CA-37): SAC (916) 319-2037, SB (805) 564-1649, VTA (805) 641-3700 email
  • Not your people?: findyourrep.legislature.ca.gov.

More information

AB 1177 – CA Public Banking Act, or “Bank Cal” for short, is heading to the assembly floor next week. This bill will help create an alternative to the current banking system, which is prohibitively costly for low-to-moderate income people. According to a report from The American Prospect, 12 of the 15 largest American banks raked in billions in overdraft fees largely from the pockets of vulnerable people already hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.

These fees set up harmful debt cycles that transfer wealth directly from working families to Wall Street banks. The situation becomes worse in “banking deserts”, where “fringe banking” businesses, such as loan sharks, pawn shops, payday lenders, and check-cashing stores take over functions of the traditional banks who’ve “redlined” themselves out of poor communities due to historic poverty, racism, or lack of adequate collateral.

Credit unions, an alternative which was originally created to help poor communities, argue that this legislation duplicates their services. However, they’ve come nowhere near meeting the demand of “the staggering number of Californians who are paying up to 10 percent of their paychecks in banking fees and interest.” Larger credit unions are are now focused on using their tax advantages over banks to compete for their higher income customers. Fewer than 6 percent of the branches of large credit unions (those with over $500 million in assets)are in low-income communities.”  

This legislation offers a public program that partners with existing banks and credit unions to specifically address the needs of the one out of four Californians who unbanked and underserved with zero-fee, zero-penalty debit account and debit card service. It would also address the barriers the homeless face in setting up accounts. Nearly half of un/underbanked populations are black and brown communities—this bill is an important step forward to bridge the racial equity and wealth gap in our state. Check out this AB 1177 Fact Sheet for more information.

Action #2 – Write an email

Subject: Support AB 1177 the CA Public Banking Option Act

Dear Assemblymember/Senator,

I am reaching out on behalf of the California Public Banking Alliance (CPBA) to ask for your support on AB 1177 (Santiago), the Public Banking Option Bill, aka BankCal. The bill recently passed the Assembly Banking and Finance Committee. This legislation offers a zero-fee, zero-penalty debit account and debit card services to the one out of four Californians who are unbanked or underbanked. Nearly half of un/underbanked populations are black and brown communities—this bill is an important step forward to bridge the racial equity and wealth gap in our state.

Many of your constituents who can least afford it end up paying numerous fees for everyday financial services such as cashing a check or failing to maintain a minimum balance. To address this problem, CPBA together with co-sponsors SEIU California, California Reinvestment Coalition and 17 Assembly members and Senators, are working to provide Californians with a no-cost banking option.

AB 1177 is endorsed by: ACCE, ACRE, California Democratic Party, California Labor Federation, Friends of the Earth U.S., Indivisible California, NextGen California, Partnership for Working Families, SEIU International, Southern Poverty Law Center, United Farm Workers, UFCW Western States Council, Working Partnerships USA, among nearly 200 endorsing organizations.

I am urging you to join with me and others to support AB 1177.  If you have questions about the legislation or want to know more about why I feel so strongly about it, do not hesitate to contact me.



Address if you live in their district (If you are a constituent, add a short something to the letter that shows this.) 

(Attach the AB 1177 Fact Sheet to your email)


More information

For those who wondered why “public banking” legislation for CA sounds so familiar, here is an explanation…

AB-857 Public banks passed into law on 10/02/19. It created the legal and regulatory framework for cities and counties to form a public bank– a municipal public bank houses or banks local government public funds (the taxes and fees that our city generates).

AB 1177 – CA Public Banking Act, is a retail banking bill- it creates a basic checking account with ATM access so that all people can open a bank account and access money without predatory fees or restrictions. They are complimentary, one banks cities, the other banks the general public.

AB 857 regulations are still being finalized by the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation (DFPI)–they have stated that regulations will be done by the end of the year, at which point, cities will be able to apply for a public bank license. Multiple cities and regions are actively working to prepare their public bank business plan to apply for the license. LA City Council just passed a motion last week in Committee to move forward with the business plan. The City of San Francisco is creating a public banking task force. The Central Coast cities are combining efforts to create a regional public bank. East Bay (Oakland, Alameda, Berekely) are also forming a regional public bank.

(Quote in header from CalMatters.)

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