House Subcommittee Testimony Supports SAFE Banking Act
Washington, D.C. (Feb. 13, 2019)—The Independent Community Bankers of America® (ICBA) today testified before Congress in support of a safe harbor from federal sanctions for financial institutions that serve cannabis-related businesses in states where cannabis is legal. Testifying before the House Financial Services Committee’s Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Financial Institutions, ICBA community banker Greg Deckard expressed support for the bipartisan Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act, which would enhance public safety and address regulatory compliance concerns by opening the traditional banking system to cannabis-related businesses.
“The current conflict between state and federal law has created a cloud of legal uncertainty for community banks, inhibited access to the banking system for cannabis-related businesses and created a serious public safety concern,” said Deckard, the chairman, president and CEO of State Bank Northwest in Spokane, Wash. “ICBA urges this committee to consider legislation that would create a federal safe harbor for banks that offer services to cannabis-related businesses that comply with state law.”
Sponsored by Reps. Ed Perlmutter (D-Colo.), Denny Heck (D-Wash.), Steve Stivers (R-Ohio), and Warren Davidson (R-Ohio), the SAFE Banking Act would apply solely to states that have legalized cannabis for medical or recreational use. The legislation provides that in these states, federal banking regulators may not threaten or limit a bank’s deposit insurance, downgrade a loan, prohibit or discourage the provision of banking services, or take any other prejudicial action solely because it serves a cannabis-related business.
ICBA supported this legislation in the last Congress and will support it again upon reintroduction. Cannabis remains illegal at the federal level, and ICBA does not advocate its legalization. ICBA and the nation’s community bankers look forward to working with lawmakers to address this important issue.
The Independent Community Bankers of America® creates and promotes an environment where community banks flourish. With more than 52,000 locations nationwide, community banks constitute 99 percent of all banks, employ more than 760,000 Americans and are the only physical banking presence in one in five U.S. counties. Holding more than $4.9 trillion in assets, $3.9 trillion in deposits, and $3.4 trillion in loans to consumers, small businesses and the agricultural community, community banks channel local deposits into the Main Streets and neighborhoods they serve, spurring job creation, fostering innovation and fueling their customers’ dreams in communities throughout America. For more information, visit ICBA’s website at www.icba.org.
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