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banking

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Grosso expands proposal to promote retail equity for the underbanked

For Immediate Release:
February 5, 2019
 
Contact:
Matthew Nocella, 202.724.8105 - mnocella@dccouncil.us

Grosso expands proposal to promote retail equity for the underbanked

Washington, D.C. – Councilmember David Grosso today re-introduced legislation to promote equity at local businesses and combat the trend towards cashless retail, a discriminatory practice that excludes District of Columbia residents who do not have a credit or debit card.

The Cashless Retailers Prohibition Act of 2019 requires retail establishments operating in the District of Columbia to accept cash as a form of payment. Further, it prohibits discrimination against anyone who chooses to use cash as a form of payment, such as charging different prices.

“By denying patrons the ability to use cash as a form of payment, businesses are effectively telling lower-income and young patrons that they are not welcome,” Grosso said. “Practices like this further stratify our diverse city when we should be working to foster greater inclusion.”

One in ten residents in the District of Columbia has no bank. An additional one in four are underbanked and therefore may not have access to a debit or credit card.  

“Through this bill, we can ensure that all D.C. residents and visitors can continue to patronize the businesses they choose while avoiding the potential embarrassment of being denied service simply because they lack a credit card,” Grosso said.

Grosso originally introduced the legislation last year, but that version only required food establishments to accept cash. The version introduced today expands the requirement to accept cash to all in-person retail establishments.
Last week, the New Jersey state legislature overwhelmingly passed similar legislation prohibiting cashless retail.

Grosso has also been focused on how the trend toward cashless payment is impacting city services. In December, he sent a letter to City Administrator Rashad Young requesting a full accounting of which D.C. government agencies accept money from the public, for what services, and, of those, which cannot be paid in cash. Additionally, he has been monitoring the impact of the cashless 79 express bus route pilot program which could worsen commuting options for riders with disabilities or lower income residents.

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Cashless Retailers Prohibition Act of 2019

Cashless Retailers Prohibition Act of 2019

Introduced: February 5, 2019

Co-introducers: Chairman Phil Mendelson, Councilmembers Anita Bonds, Brianne Nadeau, Vincent Gray, and Trayon White. 

BILL TEXT | PRESS RELEASE

Summary: To amend Title 28 of the District of Columbia Official Code to prohibit retail establishments from discriminating against cash as a form of payment, and to provide for enforcement of this requirement.

Councilmember Grosso's Introduction Statement:

Thank you Chairman Mendelson.

Today, along with my colleagues Chairman Mendelson and Councilmembers Bonds, Nadeau, Trayon White, and Gray, I am introducing the Cashless Retailers Prohibition Act of 2019.

Last year, I introduced similar legislation along with many of my colleagues.  This new proposal expands the cashless prohibition to include all retail establishments, instead of only those establishments that sell food.

Several local businesses have recently implemented new policies to ban the use of cash as a form of payment.

This has been a nationwide trend, backed in some instances by credit card companies like Visa, which have provided short-term funding to businesses that agree to stop accepting cash from their customers.

This practice requires that patrons have a credit card in order to purchase a salad at Sweetgreen, frozen yogurt at Menchie’s, or a sandwich at Jetties.

Banning the use of cash is a discriminatory practice that disproportionately impacts the 10% of DC residents who are unbanked, and an additional 25% of residents who are underbanked and may not have access to a credit card.

In addition, this practice is discriminatory against youth, who are often unable to obtain a credit card, impacting many of our middle school and high school students.

 By denying patrons the ability to use cash as a form of payment, businesses are effectively telling lower-income and young patrons that they are not welcome.

 These are customers who could otherwise afford the simple luxury of a glazed treat from District Doughnut in Union Market, though they may not have the ability to obtain a credit card.

In addition to the disparate impact on low-income and young patrons, this practice effects other customers who may prefer to pay with cash to better manage their budget, or to avoid the very real risk of identity theft that comes along with credit card use.

 Through this bill, we can ensure that all DC residents and visitors can continue to patronize the businesses they choose, while avoiding the potential embarrassment of being denied service simply because they lack a credit card.

 Thank you and I welcome any co-sponsors.

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DISB responds to Councilmember Grosso on delayed public bank study

On January 16 the Department of Insurance, Securities, and Banking (DISB) sent a response to Councilmember Grosso’s Jan. 9 letter inquiring about the status of a study to determine the feasibility of establishing a public bank in the District of Columbia and requesting an explanation for the delay in its delivery.

In the letter, Director Stephen Taylor informed Councilmember Grosso that the feasibility study was delayed due to additional requested work and that the draft report is currently under review. The final step will be final review from the Executive Office of the Mayor, but Director Taylor was unable to provide a date certain for public release of the study.

The councilmember secured the funding for the feasibility study in the FY2018 budget.

“I have long advocated for a public bank because I believe its establishment would enable the city to serve as a participation lender, partnering instead of competing against local banks, to drive lending to small businesses and others that have been historically denied access to credit,” Grosso wrote.

Read the letters below.

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Councilmember Grosso requests update on delayed public bank feasibility study

Councilmember Grosso sent a letter to the Department of Insurance, Securities and Banking (DISB) today inquiring about the status of a study to determine the feasibility of establishing a public bank in the District of Columbia and requesting an explanation for the delay in its delivery.

“I have long advocated for a public bank because I believe its establishment would enable the city to serve as a participation lender, partnering instead of competing against local banks, to drive lending to small businesses and others that have been historically denied access to credit,” Grosso wrote.

The councilmember secured the funding for the feasibility study in the FY2018 budget.

“As we are now four months into Fiscal Year 2019, I am deeply disappointed that neither I nor the public has seen the study.”

Grosso requested an update on the study and a specific date for finalization from DISB Commissioner Stephen Taylor by Wednesday, January 16.

Read the letter below.

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Councilmember Grosso requests information from City Administrator on D.C. government's acceptance of cash

Last month, Councilmember Grosso sent a letter to City Administrator Rashad Young requesting a full accounting of which D.C. government agencies accept money from the public, for what services, and, of those, which cannot be paid in cash.

Federal data indicates that 1 in 3 D.C. residents are underbanked, while 1 in 10 are unbanked. Additionally, many residents prefer to use cash to better manage their budgets and protect their identities.

Last year, Councilmember Grosso also introduced legislation to stop the trend toward cashless-only payments at local food establishments over concerns about equitable access for residents who are unbanked or underbanked.

Councilmember Grosso also has been monitoring the impact of the pilot program being undertaken on the 79 express bus route.  This pilot will ban the use of cash payment or SmarTrip reloading and Grosso fears that the change could worsen commute options for riders with disabilities or lower income residents.

Councilmember Grosso expects a response from City Administrator Young by January 18, 2019. You can read his letter below:

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Councilmember Grosso expresses concerns to WMATA over cashless payment pilot for 79 express bus route

Earlier this month, Councilmember David Grosso sent a letter to Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority Chairman Jack Evans lauding WMATA for its attempt to speed up service but expressing his concerns over the impact of the pilot program being undertaken on the 79 express bus route.  This pilot will ban the use of cash payment or SmarTrip reloading and Grosso fears that the change could worsen commute options for riders with disabilities or lower income residents.

"It is very important that we continue efforts to make our buses more efficient and faster, and I have no doubt that this proposed pilot for the 79 bus will show that this reduces overall trip times," Grosso wrote. "However, a speedier bus should not be a result of leaving some of our residents behind."

In the letter, Grosso made several suggestions to provide equitable service to all residents along the route.

WMATA General Manager Paul Wiedefeld responded to Councilmember Grosso with a letter dated June 21, 2018. Wiedefeld confirmed that nearly 10 percent of riders of the express route either paid their fare via cash or reloaded their SmarTrip onboard but did not elaborate on any plans to accommodate those riders beyond already existing options during the pilot.

Councilmember Grosso awaits the result of the pilot program and will continue to monitor its potential expansion to other routes to ensure that WMATA buses remain an option for all residents.

Both letters can be found below.

On June 25, Councilmember Grosso also introduced legislation to stop the trend toward cashless-only payments at local food establishments over concerns about equitable access for residents who are unbanked or underbanked.

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Grosso promotes retail equity with bill to prohibit cashless retail

For Immediate Release:
June 26, 2018
 
Contact:
Matthew Nocella, 202.724.8105 - mnocella@dccouncil.us

Grosso promotes retail equity with bill to prohibit cashless retail

Washington, D.C. – Today Councilmember David Grosso (I-At Large) introduced legislation that promotes equity at local businesses by ending the trend towards cashless retail, a discriminatory practice that excludes District residents who do not have a credit or debit card.

The Cashless Retailers Prohibition Act of 2018 requires retail food establishments operating in the District of Columbia to accept cash as a form of payment. Further, it prohibits the discrimination against anyone who chooses to use cash as a form of payment, such as charging different prices.

“By denying patrons the ability to use cash as a form of payment, businesses are effectively telling lower-income and young patrons that they are not welcome,” Grosso said. “Practices like this further stratify our diverse city when we should be working to foster greater inclusion.”

One in ten residents in the District of Columbia has no bank. An additional one in four are underbanked and therefore may not have access to a debit or credit card.  

“Through this bill, we can ensure that all D.C. residents and visitors can continue to patronize the businesses they choose while avoiding the potential embarrassment of being denied service simply because they lack a credit card,” Grosso said.

Chairman Phil Mendelson, Councilmembers Anita Bonds, Brianne Nadeau, Vincent Gray, and Trayon White joined Grosso as co-introducers of the legislation.

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Cashless Retailers Prohibition Act of 2018

Cashless Retailers Prohibition Act of 2018

Introduced: June 26, 2018

Co-introducers: Chairman Phil Mendelson, Councilmembers Anita Bonds, Brianne Nadeau, Vincent Gray, and Trayon White. 

BILL TEXT | PRESS RELEASE

Summary: To amend Title 28 of the District of Columbia Official Code to require retail food establishments to accept cash; to prevent discrimination against customers who prefer to use cash or do not have access to credit cards or other payment methods; and to provide for enforcement of this requirement.

Councilmember Grosso's Introduction Statement:

Thank you Chairman Mendelson. Today, along with you, Councilmembers Anita Bonds, Brianne Nadeau, Vincent Gray, and Trayon White colleague, I am introducing the Cashless Retailers Prohibition Act of 2018.

Several local quick service restaurants, coffee shops, food trucks, and other businesses have recently implemented new policies to ban the use of cash as a form of payment.

This practice requires that patrons have a credit card in order to purchase a salad at Sweetgreen, frozen yogurt at Menchie’s, or a sandwich at Jetties.

Banning the use of cash is a discriminatory practice that disproportionately impacts the 10% of DC residents who are unbanked, and an additional 25% of residents who are underbanked and may not have access to a credit card.

In addition, this practice is discriminatory against youth, who are often unable to obtain a credit card, impacting many of our middle school and high school students.

By denying patrons the ability to use cash as a form of payment, businesses are effectively telling lower-income and young patrons that they are not welcome. 

These are customers who could otherwise afford the simple luxury of a glazed treat from B Doughnut in Union Market, though they may not have the ability to obtain a credit card.

In addition to the disparate impact on low-income and young patrons, this practice effects other customers who may prefer to pay with cash to better manage their budget, or to avoid the very real risk of identity theft that comes along with credit card use.

Through this bill, we can ensure that all DC residents and visitors can continue to patronize the businesses they choose while avoiding the potential embarrassment of being denied service simply because they lack a credit card.
 

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Grosso applauds CFO’s willingness to engage on efforts to divest from Wells Fargo

For Immediate Release:
April 18, 2018
 
Contact:
Matthew Nocella, 202.724.8105 - mnocella@dccouncil.us

Grosso applauds CFO’s willingness to engage on efforts to divest from Wells Fargo

Washington, D.C. – The following is a statement from Councilmember David Grosso (I-At Large) on Chief Financial Officer Jeffrey DeWitt’s testimony regarding D.C.’s business relationship with Wells Fargo at today’s Committee on Finance and Revenue oversight hearing:

“I’m extremely excited that we are finally having a public conversation about the need to divest from Wells Fargo and pursue banking policies which reflect the District of Columbia’s values and prioritize our local communities’ needs. I appreciate the advocacy efforts of the D.C. ReInvest Coalition for their dogged support and testimony today to advance these efforts and spark this conversation.

“Every year the District spends $4 million to do business with Wells Fargo as its bank of record. Call it a transaction, call it an investment, either way we enrich Wells Fargo, which for years has engaged in highly questionable sales practices, and financed private prisons, anti-environment, and anti-indigenous projects.

“I want to thank CFO Jeffrey DeWitt for agreeing that we should reassess our relationship with Wells Fargo at the conclusion of the contract. I agree with him that choosing which among the five big bank ‘devils’ D.C. should bank with is difficult, but there are banks that are better than others. When assessing who we do business with, it is vital we take a look at the whole picture, including national trends and recent events, in deciding who is currently the best actor and the best fit for our city.

“I also agree that calling for divestment is simply not enough, and solutions must be studied to meet the District’s banking needs. I look forward to a meeting between advocates seeking divestment from Wells Fargo and the Chief Financial Officer, as well as the results of the study I funded through the FY2018 budget process to explore the feasibility of establishing a public bank in D.C.”


 

 

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Grosso seeks to prioritize fair practices and equitable community development in awarding of D.C. banking contracts

For Immediate Release:
November 7, 2017
 
Contact:
Matthew Nocella, 202.724.8105 - mnocella@dccouncil.us

Grosso seeks to prioritize fair practices and equitable community development in awarding of D.C. banking contracts

Washington, D.C. – Today, Councilmember David Grosso (I-At Large) introduced legislation to strengthen existing responsible banking laws to ensure that the District of Columbia is investing in financial institutions that engage in fair lending practices and meet the needs of historically underserved communities.

”While there is certainly no perfect financial institution, we should endeavor to prioritize partnerships with business entities, banks, and other financial institutions that are committed to engaging in fair and responsible business practices and those that fulfill their obligations to meet the credit and other needs of the communities they serve,” said Grosso.

The legislation introduced today, the Strengthening Community Development Amendment Act of 2017 requires that financial institutions seeking to do business with the city highlight the programs, products, and any partnerships they have established to promote affordable housing and equitable development, in addition to submitting community development plans.

The bill also increases the weight D.C.’s Chief Financial Officer must give to a financial institution’s community development score, a rating of how well it meets the credit needs of its local communities, in awarding the District’s banking business.  Finally, it requires the CFO to seek public comment before executing an option year on a contract with banks doing business with D.C.

“Public transparency and accountability should always be paramount when the District of Columbia seeks to conduct business with financial institutions,” Grosso said. “We must ensure that these banks will serve the convenience and needs of their local communities and invest responsibly to help maintain the vibrancy of our neighborhoods through sound services and lending.”

Grosso has been pushing for greater scrutiny of the financial institutions D.C. does business with since earlier this year, calling on the CFO to reassess its business with Wells Fargo and introducing a Sense of the Council resolution urging divestment.

In March, Wells Fargo, D.C.’s bank of record, received a national rating of “Needs to Improve” on community lending from its federal regulator. Despite this and other reports of unethical business practices, D.C. continues its relationship with the troubled bank.

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Strengthening Community Development Amendment Act of 2017

Strengthening Community Development Amendment Act of 2017

Introduced: November 7, 2017

Co-introducers: Councilmembers Anita Bonds, Robert C. White, Jr., Trayon White

FACT SHEET | BILL TEXT | PRESS RELEASE

Summary: To amend the Community Development Act of 2000 to require the Chief Financial Officer to regularly evaluate the community development plans of deposit-receiving institutions and to seek public comment prior to the execution of an option year on a contract with a deposit-receiving institution; and to amend section 47-351.05 of the District of Columbia Official Code to increase the weight the Mayor or CFO must give to a financial institution’s community development score in competitions for District banking business.

Councilmember Grosso's Introduction Statement:

In 2014, the Council unanimously passed the Community Development Amendment Act of 2013, a responsible banking law designed to ensure responsible loans, investments, and services are being provided to our low and moderate income and minority communities.

That law required, among other things, an evaluation of financial institution performance in servicing these communities as part of the criteria for deciding which institutions receive municipal deposits and other city business.

The bill was an enormous victory and step in the right direction to hold large financial institutions accountable to historically underserved communities and ensure their continuous investment in these neighborhoods.

Today, that law needs to be strengthened.

In March, Wells Fargo, the city’s bank of record received a national rating of “Needs to Improve” on community lending from its federal regulator.

Despite the misdeeds cited in the evaluation, the city continues its relationship with the much-maligned Wells Fargo.

While there is certainly no perfect financial institution, we should endeavor to prioritize partnerships with business entities, banks, and other financial institutions that are committed to engaging in fair and responsible business practices and those that fulfill their obligations to meet the credit and other needs of the communities they serve.

My legislation seeks to improve upon the existing community development law in three key ways.  First, it requires that financial institutions seeking to do business with the city must, in addition to submitting their community development plans, highlight the programs, products and any partnerships they’ve established to promote affordable housing and equitable development.

Second, the bill increases the weight the CFO must give a financial institution’s community development score in competitions for District banking business.

Finally, the bill requires the CFO to seek public comment, prior to executing an option year on a contract with banks doing business with the city.

Public transparency and accountability should always be paramount when the District seeks to conduct business with financial institutions. We must ensure that these banks will serve the convenience and needs of their local communities and invest responsibly to help maintain the vibrancy of our neighborhoods through sound services and lending.

 

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Sense of the Council Urging Reassessment of Relationship with Wells Fargo Resolution of 2017

Sense of the Council Urging Reassessment of Relationship with Wells Fargo Resolution of 2017

Introduced: March 22, 2017

Co-introducers: Councilmembers Anita Bonds, Elissa Silverman, Brianne Nadeau, and Charles Allen

Summary: To declare the sense of the Council that the District of Columbia is committed to promoting fair and responsible banking and lending practices; and to call on the city to reassess its existing relationship with Wells Fargo and consider greater investment in local banks to support community growth.

Councilmember Grosso's Introduction Statement:

Today, along with my colleagues Councilmembers Nadeau, Bonds and Silverman, I am also introducing the “Sense of the Council Urging Reassessment of Relationship with Wells Fargo Resolution of 2017.”

For years Wells Fargo has been plagued with allegations of racial discrimination in lending practices leading to some of the largest settlements in recent memory.

Recently, the financial institution has come under scrutiny for its involvement in financing the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline and highly questionable sales practices.

In a report published by In The Public Trust, it was found that Wells Fargo is one of the private prison industry’s most dedicated lenders. 

In light of the myriad allegations against Wells Fargo, several cities across the country including, San Francisco, CA; Takoma Park, MD; Minneapolis, MN; Seattle, WA and others have moved to divest or explore divesting from Wells Fargo.

The District of Columbia has long sought to protect the city’s interests and the public’s trust by managing and spending city funds in a fiscally responsible and prudent manner.

As Wells Fargo is the District of Columbia’s bank of record, I believe we have an obligation to fully reassess our relationship with Wells Fargo and strongly consider divestment.

We should prioritize partnerships with business entities and financial institutions that are committed to engaging in fair and responsible business practices and we should fully commit to reinvesting in local banks to support community growth.

Thank you Chairman Mendelson, I yield the remainder of my time to my co-introducer and I welcome any co-sponsors.

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