2013 MT Legislature

Feb 19, 2013 1:57 PM by Marnee Banks (marnee@kxlh.com)

Montana legislators discuss creation of state-run bank

HELENA - MT State Representative Doug Kary (R-Billings) wants the Montana Legislature to consider creating a state-run bank.

Kary is sponsoring House Bill 474 which would create a non-profit independent state-run bank.

Kary says his intention was not to create the bank, but instead ask the Legislature to study the issue and draft a startup plan.

However, the legislation is pretty clear stating that the bill is an "act creating a state bank of Montana known as the Montana Resources Bank."

Kary testified in front of the Business & Labor Committee on Monday and said, "The main function of this resource bank is to provide the banking services for the state, and use public funds to partner with local banks to assist in local community economic development activities."

Supporters of the bill say small businesses and farmers need access to capital and this bank could help.

The banking industry rejects the idea saying there is plenty of money available to lend, and that banks are just looking for borrowers.

Steve Turkiewicz, president of the Montana Bankers Association, said there are already several government agencies providing access to start-up grants and loans for businesses: "Looking at what the Board of Investments does, 99% of what it does looks like a state bank, or functions like a state bank in terms of providing funds for available for their partners and the private banks in the state of Montana.

On Tuesday, the House Business & Labor committee will hear another bill which also would create a state-run bank; Democrat Kelly McCarthy (Billings) is carrying that bill.

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