CHICAGO -- The House of Representatives has passed a bill designed to provide direction to the Treasury Department in exploring new materials and production techniques to reduce the cost of minting U.S. coins. The National Automatic Merchandising Association supported the measure, which now goes to the Senate.
Introduced by Rep. Melvin Watt (D-NC), the Coin Modernization, Oversight and Continuity Act of 2010 (HR 6162) would instruct the Secretary of the Treasury to conduct research into different compositions for coins. Rep. Watt is a member of the House Committee on Financial Services and chairs its Domestic Monetary Policy and Technology Subcommittee.
NAMA reports that it had proposed some of the language incorporated into the measure. NAMA chairman Craig Hesch, A.H. Management Group (Rolling Meadows, IL) testified before Congress on coinage issues in July [see story].
The bill requires the Treasury to consider "factors relevant to the ease of use and ability to co-circulate new coinage materials, including the effect on vending machines and commercial coin-processing equipment and making certain, to the greatest extent practicable, that any new coins work without interruption in existing coin acceptance equipment without modification."
The bill specifies that the Secretary of the Treasury would submit a report to the House Committee on Financial Services and the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs within two years of the date of its passage, and at two-year intervals thereafter. The report would analyze production costs of each circulating coin, production cost trends, and possible new metallic materials and technologies for the production of circulating coins.
"This is a major victory for the vending industry," said NAMA senior vice-president of government affairs Ned Monroe, "as we protected our operators from potentially millions of dollars of unnecessary new coin-validation costs."
Monroe explained that the association supported passage of the legislation because "it ensures that Congress still retains authority for approval of any changes in metal alloy content in coins."
Moreover, he added, "the legislation states that any changes recommended by the Secretary of the Treasury 'to the greatest extent possible, may not include any recommendation for new specifications for producing a circulating coin that would require any significant change to coin accepting and coin-handling equipment to accommodate changes to all circulating coins simultaneously.'"