Legislature proposes new state bank

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Two Democratic state legislators are proposing a state bank. Fairbanks Representative Scott Kawasaki and Anchorage Representative Chris Tuck say House Bill 364 would help fill state coffers and aid small business.

Representative Scott Kawasaki says he and Representative Chris Tuck modeled their bill on North Dakota’s bank, the only state bank in the nation. Kawasaki says it’s been in operation for almost a century. The idea is for the bank to make loans to Alaskans who want to start a business, but haven’t been able to secure loans with regular banks.

“Folks who want to invest in the state or run a business in the state often find it difficult to access capital from the big national bank systems,” Kawasaki said.

Kawasaki says profits from the loan would be deposited into the general fund annually and the legislature would have to vote to reinvest the money into the bank. So the bank would make money for the state, help the Alaskan economy, he says, and protect fledgling business from market swings in the commercial sector.

“We’re not tied in with markets,” said Kawasaki. “We’re tied in with the development of the community. So as more small businesses thrive and are able to take advantage of this particular process through the state bank, that is what grows the bank.”

HB 364 was introduced last week and has been referred to the House Labor and Commerce and Finance Committees.