WASHINGTON - The California Assembly is scheduled to vote today on a sweeping lender-disclosure bill that activists hope will become a model for the nation.
The bill, which has yet to pass the state Senate, would require all financial institutions that have at least $100 million in assets and do business with state or local agencies to make extensive disclosures about minority lending and hiring.
Information on applicants' race, gender, and neighborhood would be required for all consumer and business loans.
Institutions would also have to report on the racial and gender composition of their boards and senior staff.
Narrow Victory Predicted
In addition, the bill would require full disclosure of women-owned and minority-owned business contract programs and of philantropic contributions.
The California Legislature narrowly defeated similar bills in each of the past two years. But supporters are predicting a narrow victory this year because of strong backing from the Demolition Assembly speaker, Willie Brown, as well as support from lawmakers who opposed the previous versions.
Regardless of today's outcome, activists are planning to export the proposal to other states. Robert Gnaizda, general counsel of the Greenlining Coalition, says the National Black Caucus of State Legislatures has agreed to push similar bills in 42 states starting next fall.
|More Hospitable Audience'
"We all know it would be better to have federal legislation," Mr. Gnaizda said. "But as long as the American Bankers Association and the banking industry oppose it, we are going to move in those areas where we have a more hospitable."
Rep. Albert R. Wynn, D.-Md., and Rep. Maxine Waters, D.-Calif., have introduced legislation similar in some respects to the California bill but not nearly as sweeping.
Clinton administration officials in recent weeks have indicated that they are looking closely at the possibility of increasing reporting requirements.
But bankers oppose these measures, saying they would add to red tape.
"This is reinventing the wheel, but in more burdensome ways," said Gregory O. Wilhelm, director of government relations for the California Bankers Association. "It's going to take dollars that could go to lending and put them toward compliance with the law."
Besides the state association, the state bank regulator, California League of Savings Institutions, California Credit Union League, and Association of California Life Insurance Companies all oppose the bill.