[updated 11:00 AM ET, Thu March 28]
Today, H.R. 1595, the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act of 2019, received a markup by the House Financial Services Committee and passed in a vote of 45-15. This is the first time in history that a cannabis banking bill has reached this point in the legislative process. As a reminder, a markup is the process by which a congressional committee debates, amends, and rewrites proposed legislation.
Now that the bill has passed out of the House Financial Services Committee, it will continue in the legislative process and be sent to the House Judiciary Committee. It is unclear whether or not the Judiciary Committee will waive its rights to the legislation. If the Committee does waive its rights, the SAFE Banking Act will then be referred to the powerful House Rules Committee before receiving a floor vote from the full House.
If you remember, HR 1595: the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act was just introduced in the House of Representatives by Reps. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) and Denny Heck (D-WA) less than two weeks ago. In a stunning, historic surprise, the legislation was introduced with a whopping 108 original cosponsors, and that number has already risen to 151.
There were multiple amendments agreed upon by the committee, however, most were technical and required minimal change. Of note, however, included an amendment from Rep. Ed Perlmutter which would add provisions requiring the federal government to track and issue recommendations on how to expand financial services to minority-owned and women-owned cannabis businesses. Rep. Katie Porter (D-CA) also introduced an amendment that would provide the same protections to de novo financial institutions, which was agreed to. In addition, one of the bill’s lead sponsors, Rep. Steve Stivers (R-OH) offered an amendment that would give much needed clarity for insurers that wish to provide financial services in states that have legalized cannabis.
As a refresher, the SAFE Banking Act would prevent federal banking regulators from punishing banks for working with cannabis related businesses that are obeying state laws or halting their services, taking action on loans made to those businesses, or limiting a depository institution’s access to the Deposit Insurance Fund. The bill would also protect ancillary businesses that work with the cannabis industry from being charged with money laundering and other financial crimes, and requires the Financial Institution Examination Council to develop guidance to help credit unions and banks understand how to lawfully serve cannabis businesses.
Interested in helping with these efforts? You can:
Call your representative and ask them to cosponsor HR 1595: the SAFE Banking Act. If they’re already a cosponsor, thank them for their support. You can find out how to contact your member of Congress and find some helpful tips here.
Make sure you’re planning to attend NCIA’s 9th Annual Cannabis Industry Lobby Days, being held in Washington, DC May 21-23, 2019!