South San Francisco, CA May 20, 2020 Hattip to Robert Riechel Reports for the share
SB 926 by Senator Jerry Hill Now Heads to Fiscal Review
SACRAMENTO – With a unanimous vote, the Senate Business, Professions and Economic Development Committee today passed Senator Jerry Hill’s bill to prohibit discrimination against cash payments. The committee’s 9-0 vote sends Senate Bill 926 to the Senate Appropriation Committee for review.
SB 926 requires businesses to accept cash for goods and services purchased in California. Doing so ensures that Californians without bank accounts are able to buy basic necessities, the senator said.
“Businesses should not be allowed to deny cash as a valid payment method, especially not during a pandemic when access to basic necessities is greatly limited and when many of our frontline healthcare workers rely on cashless payments,” said Senator Hill, D-San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties, in asking the committee members for an “aye” vote. “COVID-19 and its effects further illustrate the need to protect California’s vulnerable communities. By preventing cash discrimination, California can ensure its economy is accessible and that all people can benefit from and participate in it.”
A 2017 national survey by the FDIC found that 8.4 million households are unbanked – meaning that none of the 14.4 million adults or 6.4 million minors who make up those households have a checking or savings account. The same survey found in California that 20.5 percent of Black households and 14.5 percent of Hispanic households are unbanked. Examining family incomes, the survey found 19 percent of California families with annual incomes of $15,000 to $30,000 are unbanked. Among families with annual incomes of less than $15,000, the unbanked soared to 27.3 percent. In addition, among Californians who are 25 to 64 and living with disabilities, 20.7 percent are unbanked.
More recently, the Public Policy Institute of California reported in March 2020 that most essential workers are low wage and have a high chance of being near or below the poverty line. The circumstances also mean they have a high likelihood of being unbanked and are adversely impacted when businesses do not accept cash, according to SB 926 supporters.
Even before the pandemic, studies showed that at least 26 percent of business transactions were paid for in person with cash. The purchases tended to be for basic necessities, such as food, clothing and toiletries.
Businesses that deny cash as a valid payment exacerbate the lack of access to essential goods and services for unbanked individuals, said Senator Hill and representatives from the Western Center on Law and Poverty and United Food & Commercial Workers.
In closing his bill presentation, Senator Hill noted he will continue to work with the California Bankers Association, California Retailers Association, California Automatic Vendors Council and SoCalGas on issues the organizations have raised. “They have raised reasonable concerns and there are reasonable solutions,” Senator Hill said.
SB 926 Bill Analysis by the Senate Business, Professions and Economic Development Committee: