Bill Description: House Bill 662 would require businesses to accept cash as a method of payment for most in-person retail transactions.
Analyst Note: House Bill 662 is similar to House Bill 513, introduced earlier this year. This bill adds a provision that businesses won't be required to accept cash as a method of payment for a single transaction of more than $10,000.
Both House Bill 662 and House Bill 513 are similar to House Bill 256 from 2021, with each iteration narrowing the scope of the regulation.
Does it violate the spirit or the letter of either the U.S. Constitution or the Idaho Constitution? Examples include restrictions on speech, public assembly, the press, privacy, private property, or firearms. Conversely, does it restore or uphold the protections guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution or the Idaho Constitution?
House Bill 662 amends Section 62-3620, Idaho Code, by adding a new subsection (h), which says, "A person who engages in business as a seller of goods or services via in-person retail transactions in this state shall accept cash as a method of payment along with any other methods of payment the seller may accept; however, no business shall be required to accept cash as a method of payment for a single transaction when such payment exceeds ten thousand dollars ($10,000). As used in this subsection, ‘retail transaction’ means a transaction conducted in-person and does not include any telephone, mail, internet-based, or other transaction not conducted in-person."
Within the context of this statute, a seller is a "retailer engaged in business in this state" who has been issued a seller's permit.
The U.S. Constitution grants the federal government authority to coin and regulate currency. Under that authority, Congress passed the Coinage Act of 1965, which says in part, "United States coins and currency (including Federal reserve notes and circulating notes of Federal reserve banks and national banks) are legal tender for all debts, public charges, taxes, and dues."
While some have argued that this language requires sellers to accept cash, the U.S. Department of the Treasury says otherwise, leaving that policy choice up to the states.
The most compelling argument for requiring sellers to accept cash is to protect the privacy of buyers. This argument became increasingly persuasive after it was revealed in 2013 that the widespread and warrantless data monitoring conducted by the National Security Agency included not just mobile phone metadata — the most widely reported target of NSA activity — but credit and debit card transactions as well.
Protecting individual privacy from unconstitutional surveillance is a noble goal, but is the proper remedy to a threat posed by the federal government a new regulation on private businesses?
House Bill 662 receives a positive rating for protecting privacy but a negative rating for imposing a new regulation. (See below.) These pros and cons offset, resulting in a net rating of zero.
Does it give government any new, additional, or expanded power to prohibit, restrict, or regulate activities in the free market? Conversely, does it eliminate or reduce government intervention in the market?
While House Bill 662 addresses some of the objections raised last year to House Bill 256, it still would impose a new regulation on businesses conducting in-person transactions of $10,000 or less. As discussed above, there is value in protecting the privacy of Idahoans, but that value must be weighed against the harm of new regulation.