June 2017 Numismatic Legislation Review

There are people who love front row seats. They go out of their way to find tickets in the front row. Whether it is a concert, the latest play, or the movies the front row gets you up close and personal.

The front row is also louder. Because it is a desirable seat, the front row is crowded. You can get pushed around, cramped and you’re not going to tell the show to turn down the volume a bit. Many times, there are those who think they deserve the special perks of the front row even if they are the ordinary shlub off the street.

This is what it is like living around the nation’s capital. For a political junkie, this is the front row of politics. Even though more work is happening in state capitols, everyone crowds the front row. With the lure of the show, this front row is crowded, loud, and there are a lot of people who are inconsiderate and crowding the theater making it no longer fun.

When I started writing about numismatic legislation, it was interesting. It was fun going through the bills to find interesting stories and speculate whether it will pass. Now with all the garbage eliminating from both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue, I am finding it difficult to stay interested. The rhetoric and level of nonsense have turned the show from being tuneful to sound worse than the sound of two chalkboards mating.

I hope that something changes soon because there have been some interesting numismatic-related bills introduced that would be nice to see passed.

S. 1326: American Innovation $1 Coin Act
Sponsor: Sen. Christopher Murphy (D-CT)
• Introduced: June 8, 2017
• Referred to the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee

This bill can be tracked at http://bit.ly/115-S1326.

S. 1503: A bill to require the Secretary of the Treasury to mint coins in recognition of the 60th anniversary of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame
Sponsor: Sen. Elizabeth A. Warren (D-MA)
• Introduced: June 29, 2017
• Referred to the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee

This bill can be tracked at http://bit.ly/115-S1503.

May 2017 Numismatic Legislation Review

Just because congress is dysfunctional does not mean they cannot curry favor with various constituencies. This month we see bills introduced for a Coast Guard and American Legion 100th Anniversary commemorative coins programs. Both are worthy organizations but given the toxic nature of Congress, who knows if these commemorative programs will be passed.

To pair with the Currency Optimization, Innovation, and National Savings (COINS) Act (S. 759) introduced by Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), there is now a version introduced in the house (H.R. 2299). Even though it is a good idea, it will not be supported in the current environment.

I wish some of these bills had a chance….

H.R. 2299: Currency Optimization, Innovation, and National Savings Act of 2017
Sponsor: Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-NY)
• Summary: To save taxpayers money by improving the manufacturing and distribution of coins and notes.
• Introduced: May 2, 2017
• Last Action: May 2, 2017: Referred to the House Committee on Financial Services

This bill can be tracked at http://bit.ly/115-hr2299.

H.R. 2317: United States Coast Guard Commemorative Coin Act of 2017
Sponsor: Rep. Joe Courtney (D-CT)
• Introduced: May 3, 2017
• Last Action: May 3, 2017: Referred to the House Committee on Financial Services

This bill can be tracked at http://bit.ly/115-HR2317.

S. 1021: United States Coast Guard Commemorative Coin Act of 2017
Sponsor: Sen. Christopher Murphy (D-CT)
• Introduced: May 3, 2017
• Last Action: May 3, 2017: Referred to the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs

This bill can be tracked at http://bit.ly/115-S1021.

S. 1182: The American Legion 100th Anniversary Commemorative Coin Act
Sponsor: Sen. Todd Young (R-IN)
• Introduced: May 18, 2017
• Last Action: May 18, 2017: Referred to the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs

This bill can be tracked at http://bit.ly/115-S1182.

H.R. 2519: The American Legion 100th Anniversary Commemorative Coin Act
Sponsor: Rep. Timothy Walz (D-MN)
• Introduced: May 18, 2017
• Last Action: May 18, 2017: Referred to the House Committee on Financial Services

This bill can be tracked at http://bit.ly/115-HR2519.

April 2017 Numismatic Legislation Review

Not to be outdone, Rep. Steve Stivers (R-OH) introduced the Cents and Sensibility Act in the House (H.R. 2067) in order to force the change in our change. Stivers’ bill would require that circulating coins “be produced primarily of steel” and that “ be treated in such a manner that the appearance of the coins, both when new and after they have been in circulation, is similar to the one-cent, five-cent, dime, and quarter dollar coins, respectively, produced before the date of the enactment of this subsection.” This differs from the Currency Optimization, Innovation, and National Savings (COINS) Act (S. 759), introduced by Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), in that McCain’s bill would cease production of the one-cent coin, changes the composition of the five-cent coins, and ceases production of the $1 paper currency.

I don’t think either bill has a chance of being passed but if I had to pick one, I would prefer McCain’s COINS Act.

H.R. 2067: Cents and Sensibility Act
Sponsor: Rep. Steve Stivers (R-OH)
• Introduced: April 6, 2017
• Summary: To amend title 31, United States Code, to save the American taxpayers money by immediately altering the metallic composition of the one-cent, five-cent, dime, and quarter dollar coins.
• Last Action: April 6, 2017: Referred to the House Committee on Financial Services.

This bill can be tracked at http://bit.ly/115-HR2067.

S. 921: Duty First Act
Sponsor: Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS)
• Introduced: April 24, 2017
• Summary: A bill to require the Secretary of the Treasury to mint coins in commemoration of the 100 year anniversary of the 1st Infantry Division
• Last Action: April 28, 2017: Referred to the House Committee on Financial Services

This bill can be tracked at http://bit.ly/115-S921.

H.R. 2256: To require the Secretary of the Treasury to mint coins in recognition of Christa McAuliffe.
Sponsor: Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI)
• Introduced: April 28, 2017
• Last Action: April 28, 2017: Referred to the House Committee on Financial Services

This bill can be tracked at http://bit.ly/115-HR2256.

March 2017 Numismatic Legislation Review

If you think congress is dysfunctional based on what you see on the television news, try working behind the scenes. Recently, I met someone who started working for the government in 1972, before the explosion of the Watergate scandal. With the environment being so toxic, he decided to join the march of government employees into retirement. Very senior government employees with significant institutional knowledge are leaving the government in droves. This is not going to turn out well for the people these agencies are supposed to serve.

In the mean time, here is the legislative review for bills that will probably languish in committee for the forseeable future.

H.R. 1582: Duty First Act
Sponsor: Rep. Steve Russell (R-OK)
• Introduced: March 16, 2017
• Summary: To require the Secretary of Treasury to mint coins in commemoration of the 100 year anniversary of the 1st Infantry Division.
• Last Action: Referred to the House Committee on Financial Services: March 16, 2017

Track this bill at http://bit.ly/115-HR1582

H.R. 1683: National Purple Heart Hall of Honor Commemorative Coin Act
Sponsor: Rep. Sean Maloney (D-NY)
• Introduced: March 22, 2017
• Summary: To require the Secretary of the Treasury to mint coins in commemoration of the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor.
• Last Action: Referred to the House Committee on Financial Services: March 22, 2017

Tack this bill at http://bit.ly/115-HR1683

S. 759: Currency Optimization, Innovation, and National Savings Act of 2017
• Sponsor: Sen. John McCain (R-AZ)
• Introduced: March 29, 2017
• Summary: To save taxpayers money by improving the manufacturing and distribution of coins and notes.
• Last action: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs March 29, 2017

Track this bill at http://bit.ly/115-S759

February 2017 Numismatic Legislation Review

Augustus Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site

Although the first two bills do not have numismatic content, given the stature of Augustus Saint-Gaudens in the numismatic community, I am including them in the numismatic legislation watch.

S. 312: Saint-Gaudens National Historical Park Redesignation Act
Sponsor: Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH)
• To redesignate the Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site as the “Saint-Gaudens National Historical Park”
• Introduced: February 6, 2017
• Referred to the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources

This bill can be tracked at http://bit.ly/115-S312.

H.R. 965: Saint-Gaudens National Historical Park Redesignation Act
Sponsor: Rep. Ann Kuster (D-NH)
• To redesignate the Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site as the “Saint-Gaudens National Historical Park”
• Introduced: February 7, 2017
• Referred to the House Committee on Natural Resources

This bill can be tracked at http://bit.ly/115-HR1235.

H.R. 1235: Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Commemorative Coin Act
Sponsor: Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA)
• Introduced: February 27, 2017
• Referred to the House Committee on Financial Services

Track this bill at http://bit.ly/115-HR1235.

Image courtesy of the National Parks Service.

January 2017 Numismatic Legislation Review

New congress means a new round of legislation. We begin the new congress with a new historical celebration commission, a commemorative bill, and what looks like a future quarter design bill.

H.R. 66: Route 66 Centennial Commission Act
Sponsor: Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IL)
• Introduced: January 3, 2017
• Bill to create to create a celebratory commission whose job will include suggesting commemorative coins
• Referred to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Highways and Transit

This bill can be tracked at http://bit.ly/115-HR66.

S. 579: Muhammad Ali Commemorative Coin Act
Sponsor: Rep. John Yarmuth (D-KY)
• Introduced: January 13, 2017
• Referred to the House Financial Services Committee

This bill can be tracked at http://bit.ly/115-HR579.

S. 166: Muhammad Ali Commemorative Coin Act
Sponsor: Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT)
• Introduced: January 17, 2017
• Referred to the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee

This bill can be tracked at http://bit.ly/115-S166.

H.R. 770: To require the Secretary of the Treasury to mint coins in recognition of American innovation and significant innovation and pioneering efforts of individuals or groups from each of the 50 States, the District of Columbia, and the United States territories, to promote the importance of innovation in the United States, the District of Columbia, and the United States territories, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. Jim Himes (D-CT)
• Introduced: January 31, 2017
• Referred to the House Financial Services Committee

This bill can be tracked at http://bit.ly/115-HR770.

December 2016 Legislative Review and the end of the 114th Congress

While trying to find the right words to describe 2016 and the anticipation for 2017, I came across a quote from an 1898 speech by British statesman Joseph Chamberlain, father of Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain:

I think that you will all agree that we are living in most interesting times. (Hear, hear.) I never remember myself a time in which our history was so full, in which day by day brought us new objects of interest, and, let me say also, new objects for anxiety. (Hear, hear.)

Although working on numismatic-related legislation was not expected during this lame duck session, congress surprised everyone and passed a bill that I really wanted to see passed. Considering the country’s history of the time, there is nothing more iconic than Apollo 11’s trip to the moon. It is the single event that inspired my life in technology.

Public Law No. 114-282: Apollo 11 50th Anniversary Commemorative Coin Act
Sponsor: Rep. Bill Posey (R-FL)
• Introduced: June 10, 2015 as H.R. 2726
• Passed the House: December 5, 2016
• Passed the Senate: December 10, 2016
• Signed by the President: December 16, 2016

See the final text of the law at http://bit.ly/114-HR2726.

The 115th Congress of the United States will officially convene at noon on January 3, 2017. The 45th president will take office at noon on January 20, 2017. We are living in most interesting times with new objects for anxiety.

Save now for the 2019 Apollo 11 Commemorative Coins

Artist’s conception of the common reverse for the 2019 Apollo 11 commemorative coin program.

Every year since coming into office, President Barack Obama and his family packs up and flies to Hawaii for an end of the year vacation. Obama was born in Hawaii and still has some family on Oahu. Before leaving Washington, he will sign whatever bills are sent to him by congress. According to the White House News Feed, President Obama signed the Apollo 11 50th Anniversary Commemorative Coin Act on Friday, December 16, 2016!

Based on my posts from the last few weeks, I am sure you can tell I have a fascination with space. In fact, if there is such thing as reincarnation, I want to come back in the future to be able to travel around the universe in a manner similar to what we see in the movies. It is sad that there is no real enthusiasm for space exploration as there was when Apollo 11 landed on the moon!

In July 1969, my family lived in the Long Island suburbs of New York. The year before Apollo 11, my father bought a new, large RCA color television. Aside from learning that the beginning and end of Wizard of Oz was in black-and-white, I was able to watch the launches of the world’s largest Roman candle, the Saturn V rocket. Before Skylab and the Shuttle programs, it was a marvel of human achievement. I loved watching the liftoffs from Cape Kennedy and always wanted to go see one in person. I never did get to see a rocket launched, but I hope to some day.

This was a time when kids went outside to play, even in the summer evenings. We played a lot of baseball-related games including setting up a “field” in the street. Nobody was in the street. We were all home watching television and watching overhead shots of Mission Control in Houston. Even through the television, you could sense the tension until Neil Armstrong announced, “Houston, Tranquility Base here. TheEagle has landed.”

It wasn’t until years later when I learned more about the Cold War when I understood why it was more important for the United States to land and walk on the moon first. All I knew was it was very cool that an American was up there. It made Star Trek seem possible!

The moon walk was Monday night. Again, we were staring at the television watching the enactments as to what to expect. There were mockups of the Lunar Module and astronauts demonstrating what Armstrong was supposed to do. I remember the concentration on the “D-Ring,” the D-shaped handle that Armstrong had to pull on to open the door that had the camera. There was a question that the ring had to survive the landing and that the door could have jammed. We would have a historical moment without it being recorded on video!

“These are the first pictures ever broadcast from the moon,” was the words by whoever was on television. I remember the words but not who said them. Pulling on the D-ring worked and the world was watching. We watched as Neil Armstrong climbed down the ladder onto the surface of the moon. After a brief stop to remove the cover on the plaque that was attached to the ladder, Armstrong put both feet on the footpad of the lunar module. After a quick bounce step from the footpad to the surface of the moon, Armstrong gave his famous like, “That’s one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind.”

There has been a “controversy” about whether Armstrong said “… one small step for man,” or “… one small step for a man.” Whatever is the correct version does not take away from the feat and the fact that Neil Armstrong was the first human being to set foot on Earth’s only natural satellite!

While NASA was the inspiration for many of the modern technologies we enjoy today, only Apollo 11 took it to the level of defining U.S. technology. While Skylab and the Shuttle programs were far more advanced, Apollo 11 stands as one of the 20th-century’s most amazing feats.

Needless to say, I am excited!

  • Commemorative program issued in 2019
  • Required design elements:
    • Convex in shape “to more closely resemble the faceplate of the astronaut’s helmet of the time”
    • “The Secretary shall hold a juried, compensated competition to determine the design of the common obverse of the coins minted under this Act, with such design being emblematic of the United States space program leading up to the first manned Moon landing.”
    • Winning designer to receive no less than $5,000 for their design.
    • Common reverse design “shall be a representation of a close-up of the famous ‘Buzz Aldrin on the Moon’ photograph taken July 20, 1969, showing just the visor and part of the helmet of astronaut Edwin ‘Buzz’ Aldrin, in which the visor reflects the image of the United States flag, astronaut Neil Armstrong, and the lunar lander.”
  • Mintage Limit: 50,000 $5 gold; 400,000 silver dollars; 750,000 clad half-dollar; 100,000 five-ounce silver proof dollars
  • Surcharges of $35 per $5 gold; $10 per silver dollar; $5 per half-dollar; and $50 per five-ounce bullion.
  • Payouts: 50-percent to Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum’s “Destination Moon” exhibit; 25-percent to the Astronauts Memorial Foundation; and 25-percent to the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation.
I may not be much of an artist but I can play a little with Photoshop!

Apollo 11 commem bill passes Senate

On Friday, December 9, during an early evening session under suspension of the rules, the Senate passed the Apollo 11 50th Anniversary Commemorative Coin Act (H.R. 2726). Since the bill was passed in the evening, it will be engrossed.

When a bill from congress is passed it is then engrossed. Engrossing a bill is the formal printing of the bill parchment or other paper of suitable quality, signed by the Speaker of the House and the designated presiding officer of the Senate (either the Vice President, President Pro-tempore, or the Majority Leader), and then sent to the White House for the President’s signature. When the president signs the engrossed bill, it then becomes law and given a Public Law number. The Public Law number is made up of the session congress, 114 as the 114th congress, and a sequence number.

I suspect that before the end of the week, the Apollo 11 50th Anniversary Commemorative Coin Act will be the law!

House passes Apollo 11 commem bill

Buzz Aldrin on the Moon

“Buzz Aldrin on the Moon” taken July 20, 1969 by Neil Armstrong

Under a motion to suspend the rules and pass as agreed, the House of Representatives passed by unanimous consent the Apollo 11 50th Anniversary Commemorative Coin Act (H.R. 2726) during an afternoon session on December 5, 2016.

Apollo 11 has to be one of the top defining events of the 20th century. It captured the imagination of not only the United States but the world in a way nothing else could. Landing on the moon and having the Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins safely return to earth using the technology of the day was a feat beyond imagination. And getting there before the blasted Soviets after they beat us into space for quite a number of years was also a big deal during the Cold War.

Now that the bill has passed, it is formally enrolled and signed by the Speaker of the House. It is sent to the Senate for their consideration. Hopefully, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) will put it on the schedule and get this passed without issue.

In case you forgot, here is what the bill requires for the Apollo 11 commemorative coins:

  • Commemorative program issued in 2019
  • Required design elements:
    • Convex in shape “to more closely resemble the faceplate of the astronaut’s helmet of the time”
    • “The Secretary shall hold a juried, compensated competition to determine the design of the common obverse of the coins minted under this Act, with such design being emblematic of the United States space program leading up to the first manned Moon landing.”
    • Winning designer to receive no less than $5,000 for their design.
    • Common reverse design “shall be a representation of a close-up of the famous ‘Buzz Aldrin on the Moon’ photograph taken July 20, 1969, showing just the visor and part of the helmet of astronaut Edwin ‘Buzz’ Aldrin, in which the visor reflects the image of the United States flag, astronaut Neil Armstrong, and the lunar lander.”
  • Mintage Limit: 50,000 $5 gold; 400,000 silver dollars; 750,000 clad half-dollar; 100,000 five-ounce silver proof dollars
  • Surcharges of $35 per $5 gold; $10 per silver dollar; $5 per half-dollar; and $50 per five-ounce bullion.
  • Payouts: 50-percent to Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum’s “Destination Moon” exhibit; 25-percent to the Astronauts Memorial Foundation; and 25-percent to the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation.

I am saving my pennies. I want a complete set!

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