Over Bankers' Opposition, Bill Introduced In California

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Over opposition from this state's bankers, the California Senate Banking Committee has approved legislation that would expand affordable financial services for the state's low-income Californians by allowing credit unions to cash checks, wire money, and provide other lifeline services for potential members.

SB 1292, by Sen. Joe Dunn (D-Garden Grove) cleared the committee on an 8-1 vote, and now goes to the Senate floor.

"At a time when California's banks are trying to drive people with low incomes out of their lobbies, credit unions are trying to reach out to the underserved and bring them into the financial mainstream," said Matthew Davidson, executive vice president of the California Credit Union League, which is sponsoring SB 1292.

Under SB 1292, a state-chartered credit union could cash checks and wire money domestically and internationally for anyone who is eligible to join that credit union, whether or not they are currently a member. Credit unions could also sell traveler's checks and money orders to potential members.

Providing lifeline services to potential members is part of a nationwide trend among credit unions to reach out to the nation's unbanked.

Credit unions in Arizona, Michigan, Missouri, New York, North Dakota, and Texas have the authority to provide these services to potential members.

U.S. Rep. Joe Baca (D) has introduced similar legislation for federally chartered credit unions in the House of Representatives.

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