A bill to move New Mexico's money out of big national banks and into local banks and credit unions has some serious legs in the state's legislature.
The bill passed the New Mexico House of Representatives unanimously on Monday, and it already is scheduled for a hearing on Wednesday in the Senate.
"The popular sentiment seems to be that it is a good thing and that it's about time that something like this was enacted," said Gerald Gonzalez, a policy analyst and spokesman for the Democratic Senate majority. "As the vernacular puts it, I hear it's got legs coming over to the Senate side."
The bill, introduced by Rep. Brian Egolf (D-Santa Fe), would give preference to local banks and credit unions in bidding for state "fiscal agent" contracts. The idea is that more liquidity in local banks translates into more loans to local businesses and a stronger local economy.
A fiscal impact report from the Legislative Finance Committee in the House noted that the bill could have a "relatively small but not insignificant" negative impact on the state general fund, but noted that it could have positive effects: "Pieces of the proposed legislation would undoubtedly create more liquidity within New Mexico community banks and therefore could increase loan opportunities for New Mexico citizens and businesses."
Egolf told the Huffington Post in January that he got the idea for the legislation directly from the Move Your Money campaign, which encourages individuals to withdraw their deposits from "Too Big To Fail" banks in favor of local banks.
"I saw the Move Your Money video the day it came out and thought it made a lot of sense," he said.
Egolf is thrilled that the Senate is taking up his bill. "Mine will be only the second House bill to be heard in the Senate so far this session," he said, adding that he hasn't heard of any formal opposition.
"I wish I could tell you we were in hand-to-hand combat with the Bank of America lobbyists, but nobody has lobbied against it," said Egolf.
The $1.4 billion in question is currently parked with Bank of America, which has not spoken out against the bill. "We are pleased to have the State of New Mexico as a client and look forward to continuing that relationship," said a bank spokesman in an email to HuffPost last month.
Jerry Walker, president of the New Mexico Community Bankers Association, told HuffPost that his member banks will lobby hard in favor of the bill. "Our member banks will be calling the committee members," he said.