June 2019 Numismatic Legislation Review

Seal of the United States CongressEven while other things were going on, Congress found time to introduce and vote on numismatic-related legislation during the mother of June. The most significant development was the passing of the Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commemorative Coin Act (S. 1235) by unanimous consent.

If passed by the House of Representatives and signed by the President, the bill would create a commemorative silver dollar in 2020 with a surcharge of $10 per coin that will go to the Smithsonian Institution’s American Women’s History Initiative.

When this bill was sent out of committee to the floor for a vote, the media was all in a twitter (pun intended) about the bipartisan nature of the bill’s support. The bill was introduced on April 30, 2019, by Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) and cosponsored by every female senator. Subsequently, male senators added their support to where the bill had 82 cosponsors. While we live in very partisan times, those of us who watch numismatic-related legislation understands that these bills are not controversial and tend to gain bipartisan support.

The bill is being held at the desk in the House of Representatives and not assigned to a committee. Although a call to the House did not provide answers, a source says that it is being held for procedural reasons.

According to the source, an objection was made by a member because the member believes that the bill violates the constitution. According to Article I Section 7 of the United States Constitution, it says that “All bills for raising revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives.” Since commemorative coin bills raise revenue for private and public (seigniorage) sources, someone believes that the Senate overstepped its bounds.

There was no report as to who filed the objection.

S. 1235: Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commemorative Coin Act
Sponsor: Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN)
Introduced: April 30, 2019
Held at the desk. — Jun 5, 2019
Received in the House. — Jun 5, 2019
Message on Senate action sent to the House. — Jun 5, 2019
Passed Senate with an amendment by Unanimous Consent. — Jun 4, 2019
Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs discharged by Unanimous Consent. — Jun 4, 2019
Read twice and referred to the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. — Apr 30, 2019
This bill can be tracked at http://bit.ly/116-S1235.

H.R. 3155: 75th Anniversary of the End of World War II Commemorative Coin Act
Sponsor: Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA)
Introduced: June 6, 2019
Summary: This bill directs the Department of the Treasury to mint and issue up to 50,000 $5 coins, 500,000 $1 coins, and 750,000 half-dollar coins in commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II.The coins shall be emblematic of the sacrifices made by millions of people of the United States 75 years ago in bringing an end to World War II. The design on each coin shall represent the World War II Victory Medal, which was awarded to all 16 million U.S. military personnel who served from December 7, 1941, to December 31, 1946.The bill requires all sales of such coins include specified surcharges, which shall be paid by Treasury to the congressionally designated National WWII Museum to fund its educational mission of telling the story of the U.S. experience in World War II.
Referred to the House Committee on Financial Services. — Jun 6, 2019
This bill can be tracked at http://bit.ly/116-HR3155.

S. 1794: CENTS Act
Sponsor: Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA)
Introduced: June 12, 2019
Read twice and referred to the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. — Jun 12, 2019
This bill can be tracked at http://bit.ly/116-S1794.

H.R. 3483: To require the Secretary of the Treasury to mint commemorative coins in recognition of the 75th anniversary of the integration of baseball.
Sponsor: Rep. Cedric L. Richmond (D-LA)
Introduced: June 25, 2019
Referred to the House Committee on Financial Services. — Jun 25, 2019
This bill can be tracked at http://bit.ly/116-HR3483.

S. 1954: A bill to require the Secretary of the Treasury to mint commemorative coins in recognition of the 75th anniversary of the integration of baseball.
Sponsor: Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC)
Introduced: June 25, 2019
Read twice and referred to the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. — Jun 25, 2019
This bill can be tracked at http://bit.ly/116-S1954.

S. 2042: A bill to require the Secretary of the Treasury to mint coins in commemoration of the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor.
Sponsor: Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-NY)
Introduced: June 27, 2019
Read twice and referred to the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. — Jun 27, 2019
This bill can be tracked at http://bit.ly/116-S2042.

Suffrage Centennial Commem passes the Senate

Congress may be filling out the 2020 commemorative coin calendar with the Senate passing the Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commemorative Coin Act (S. 1235). If passed by the House, the bill would require the U.S. Mint to issue a one dollar silver coin to commemorate women suffrage activists in 2020.

S. 1235: Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commemorative Coin Act
Sponsor: Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN)
Introduced: April 30, 2019
Passed Senate with an amendment by Unanimous Consent. — Jun 4, 2019
Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs discharged by Unanimous Consent. — Jun 4, 2019
Read twice and referred to the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. — Apr 30, 2019
This bill can be tracked at http://bit.ly/116-S1235.

On August 18, 1920, Tennessee became the 36th state to ratify the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Since there were 48 states in the union, 36 represented the three-quarters necessary to ratify the amendment.

S. 1235 was introduced in the Senate by Sen. Marsha Blackburn from Tennessee.

According to the bill the design of the coin is supposed to “contain motifs that honor Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Carrie Chapman Catt, Harriet Tubman, Mary Church Terrell, Alice Paul, Lide Meriwether, Ida B. Wells, and other suffrage activists of the late 19th century and early 20th centuries.” That is a lot of people to try to fit on a 1½-inch coin.

As with almost every other commemorative coin bill, the silver dollar will have a $10 surcharge. The surcharge will go to the Smithsonian Institution’s American Women’s History Initiative.

This bill does not mention mintage limits. It is possible to become the most produced commemorative coin of the modern era.

Next, the bill is sent to the House of Representatives for their vote.

May 2019 Numismatic Legislation Review

The legislative review is back after taking a month hiatus since there was nothing to report for April.

Legislation introduced in May is a bit different than others in that only one bill directly affects the section of the law that governs the U.S. Mint (Subchapter III of chapter 51 of title 31, United States Code). Let’s look at each of legislation submitted in May.

S. 1300: National Law Enforcement Museum Commemorative Coin Act
Sponsor: Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO)
Introduced: May 2, 2019
Read twice and referred to the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. — May 2, 2019
This bill can be tracked at http://bit.ly/116-S1300.

The National Law Enforcement Museum Commemorative Coin Act is a typical three-coin commemorative coin legislation ($5 gold, $1 silver, half-dollar clad) to raise money for a cause. If passed, this law will pay the surcharges to National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.

H.R. 2559: Gold Reserve Transparency Act of 2019
Sponsor: Rep. Alexander X. Mooney (R-WV)
Introduced: May 7, 2019
Referred to the House Committee on Financial Services. — May 7, 2019
This bill can be tracked at http://bit.ly/116-HR2559.

The Gold Reserve Transparency Act of 2019 calls for a complete assay, inventory, and audit of gold reserves held by the federal government. The proposed law requires that the location of all gold is documented “including any gold in ‘deep storage,'” the security of those places, and any transactions of that gold.

If enacted, the Comptroller General of the United States do this audit for the past 15 years and have it completed within 12 months and every five years. The law would require the complete audit to be made public with the only exception of the physical security issues.

COMMENTARY: Given the nature of the economy and a lot of other factors are the gold holds that important? The Federal Reserve reports that the M1 money supply is over $3.7 trillion and the M2 is over $14.5 trillion. Think of the M1 as cash used in commerce. The M2 represents all money, including those in savings, securities, or may have circulating restrictions. Even if the government were to account for every grain of gold as reported an in U.S. Mint’s annual reports, that would represent less than 1-percent of the M1.

Gold holdings are irrelevant to the strength of the United States economy. Maintaining the M1 supply is more critical because it is a measure of activity. Economists fear wild tariffs since it will have a direct effect on the M1 money supply. Changes to the M1 will alter the demand for the products produced by the U.S. Mint and Bureau of Engraving and Printing.

H.R. 2558: To define the dollar as a fixed weight of gold.
Sponsor: Rep. Alexander X. Mooney (R-WV)
Introduced: May 7, 2019
Referred to the House Committee on Financial Services. — May 7, 2019
This bill can be tracked at http://bit.ly/116-HR2558.

H.R. 2558 would require the Secretary of the Treasury “define the dollar in terms of a fixed weight of gold, based on that day’s closing market price of gold” and allow Federal Reserve Notes to be exchangeable for gold at that statutory rate.

COMMENTARY: This is a backhanded attempt to return the United States to the gold standard without the sufficient backing of gold that will support this effort. With the money supply being over $14 trillion, trying to match the amount of gold at market value to every U.S. dollar would cause a devaluation of the currency that it would not be economically viable to do business in or with the United States.

Further, the market price of gold is set by private banks, metals dealers, mining companies, and other financial companies from all over the world through the London Bullion Market Association (LBMA). Given the makeup of their membership, this bill will allow this market that includes people from Bahrain, China, Switzerland, Russia, and other countries where the United States may have disputes to have direct influence over the strength of the U.S. dollar.

The introduction of a bill like this makes for good talking points for a constituency that is ignorant of the ramifications of this law. It is not sound policy given the nature of the markets.

H.R. 2630: Cash Always Should be Honored Act
Sponsor: Rep. David N. Cicilline (D-RI)
Introduced: May 9, 2019
Referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. — May 9, 2019
This bill can be tracked at http://bit.ly/116-HR2630.

The Cash Always Should be Honored (CASH) Act states that “It shall be unlawful for any physical retail establishment to refuse to accept legal tender as payment for any products or services offered for sale by such physical retail establishment.” The bill allows exemptions for online and telephone-based transactions.

COMMENTARY: Although I believe in the power of spending the products of the U.S. Mint and Bureau of Engraving and Printing over using electronic means, it should not be the government’s place to tell anyone how to conduct business.

Another short-sighted bill that does not consider the modern economy because it does not consider changes to the concept of a physical retail establishment. For example, what about mobile-based commerce? Would the rideshare companies be required to take cash? What about the plumber who comes to fix your sink? What about the food truck where you might buy lunch?

For the numismatists, how would this affect dealers at a coin show? Will you be required to carry around a wad of currency to buy coins? Would there be a distinction between the dealer who only sells at shows versus a dealer with a shop who travels to shows?

It is another bill that looks better as part of talking points than its effects on the real economy.

H.R. 2650: Payment Choice Act of 2019
Sponsor: Rep. Donald M. Payne (D-NJ)
Introduced: May 9, 2019
Referred to the House Committee on Financial Services. — May 9, 2019
This bill can be tracked at http://bit.ly/116-HR2650.

This Payment Choice Act of 2019 is similar to the CASH Act in that it will prohibit any business from refusing “to accept United States legal tender of cash as payment for goods or services,” post signs saying that the establishment will not accept cash, or charge a higher price for paying in cash. The bill exempts “any goods or services sold to the public by telephone, mail, or internet.”

COMMENTARY: See the commentary for the CASH Act, above.

March 2019 Numismatic Legislation Review

When it comes to numismatic-related legislation, proposing commemorative coin programs can look like a pastime to the members of Congress. At the prompting of constituent groups, members will submit bills that have everyone excited but does not deliver on its promise.

For now, the only commemorative coin program that has become law is the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2020.

In March, members of Congress have introduced bills to create five more commemorative coin programs. All have merit but the reality is that most of these bills will not pass Congress.

For the 116th Congress, there have been 16 numismatic-related bills submitted covering 13 different commemoratives (some are introduced in both the House and Senate to increase its chance of passage). One bill, Route 66 Centennial Commission Act (H.R. 66), was added to the watch list because the bill recommends a possible commemorative coin for the celebration.

Maybe there will be something more exciting to report next month.

S. 639: Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Centennial Commemorative Coin Act
Sponsor: Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR)
Introduced: March 4, 2019
Read twice and referred to the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. — Mar 4, 2019
This bill can be tracked at http://bit.ly/116-S639.

H.R. 1805: To require the Secretary of the Treasury to mint coins in commemoration of the centennial of the establishment of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
Sponsor: Rep. Brad R. Wenstrup (R-OH)
Introduced: March 14, 2019
Referred to the House Committee on Financial Services. — Mar 14, 2019
This bill can be tracked at http://bit.ly/116-HR1805.

H.R. 1830: To require the Secretary of the Treasury to mint coins in commemoration of the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor.
Sponsor: Rep. Sean P. Maloney (D-NY)
Introduced: March 18, 2019
Referred to the House Committee on Financial Services. — Mar 18, 2019
This bill can be tracked at http://bit.ly/116-HR1830.

H.R. 1865: To require the Secretary of the Treasury to mint a coin in commemoration of the opening of the National Law Enforcement Museum in the District of Columbia, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. William J. Pascrell (D-NJ)
Introduced: March 25, 2019
Referred to the House Committee on Financial Services. — Mar 25, 2019
This bill can be tracked at http://bit.ly/116-HR1865.

H.R. 1923: To amend title 31, United States Code, to require the Secretary of the Treasury to mint and issue quarter dollars in commemoration of the Nineteenth Amendment, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA)
Introduced: March 27, 2019
Referred to the House Committee on Financial Services. — Mar 27, 2019
This bill can be tracked at http://bit.ly/116-HR1923.

H.R. 1982: To require the Secretary of the Treasury to mint coins in recognition and celebration of the National Women’s Hall of Fame.
Sponsor: Rep. Joseph D. Morelle (D-NY)
Introduced: March 28, 2019
Referred to the Committee on Financial Services, and in addition to the Committee on the Budget, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned. — Mar 28, 2019
This bill can be tracked at http://bit.ly/116-HR1982.

February 2019 Numismatic Legislation Review

While the mainstream media has mostly been distracted by other activities in Congress, those of us who watch numismatic-related legislation have had our own action.

First, the House of Representatives passed Route 66 Centennial Commission Act (H.R. 66) to create a commission to celebrate the centennial of the famous Route 66 in 2026. Although this is not a numismatic-related bill per se, if passed, the bill says that the centennial commission will recommend commemorative coins for this event. The bill has been referred to the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee waiting further action.

The other legislation of note is the Monetary Metals Tax Neutrality Act of 2019 (H.R. 1089) that removes all tax considerations for the sale of “gold, silver, platinum, or palladium coins minted and issued by the Secretary at any time.” It also exempts “refined gold or silver bullion, coins, bars, rounds, or ingots which are valued primarily based on their metal content and not their form.” This means that no capital gains on the sale of these items will be taxed and no losses can be written off by the taxpayer.

An interesting side effect of this bill would be that the gains realized when rare coins auctioned for millions of dollars will not be taxed. This means if an 1804 Silver Dollar sells for more than the $3.8 million it sold for in 2013, the seller will not pay capital gains tax on the sale. However, if it sells for less, the seller will not be able to write-off the loss.

For those keeping score at home, this law will not help the sale of a 1913 Liberty Head Nickel since its composition is copper and nickel.

Of course, this will only be an issue if H.R. 1089 passes and the president signs it into law.

H.R. 66: Route 66 Centennial Commission Act
Sponsor: Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IL)
Introduced: January 3, 2019
Summary: This bill establishes the Route 66 Centennial Commission to honor Route 66 on the occasion of its centennial anniversary.The Department of Transportation shall prepare a plan on the preservation needs of Route 66.
Received in the Senate and Read twice and referred to the Committee on Environment and Public Works. — Feb 7, 2019
Motion to reconsider laid on the table Agreed to without objection. — Feb 6, 2019
On motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill Agreed to by the Yeas and Nays: (2/3 required): 399 – 22 (Roll no. 67). — Feb 6, 2019
Considered as unfinished business. — Feb 6, 2019
At the conclusion of debate, the Yeas and Nays were demanded and ordered. Pursuant to the provisions of clause 8, rule XX, the Chair announced that further proceedings on the motion would be postponed. — Feb 6, 2019
DEBATE – The House proceeded with forty minutes of debate on H.R. 66. — Feb 6, 2019
Considered under suspension of the rules. — Feb 6, 2019
Ms. Norton moved to suspend the rules and pass the bill. — Feb 6, 2019
Referred to the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. — Jan 3, 2019
This bill can be tracked at http://bit.ly/116-HR66.

H.R. 1089: Monetary Metals Tax Neutrality Act of 2019
Sponsor: Rep. Alexander X. Mooney (R-WV)
Introduced: February 7, 2019
Summary: Monetary Metals Tax Neutrality Act of 2019This bill exempts gains or losses from the sale or exchange of certain coins or bullion from recognition for income tax purposes. The exemption applies to gains or losses from the sale or exchange of (1) gold, silver, platinum, or palladium coins minted and issued by the Department of the Treasury; or (2) refined gold or silver bullion, coins, bars, rounds, or ingots which are valued primarily based on their metal content and not their form.
Referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means. — Feb 7, 2019
This bill can be tracked at http://bit.ly/116-HR1089.

S. 457: President George H.W. Bush and Barbara Bush Coin Act
Sponsor: Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX)
Introduced: February 12, 2019
Read twice and referred to the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. — Feb 12, 2019
This bill can be tracked at http://bit.ly/116-S457.

H.R. 1173: President George H.W. Bush and Barbara Bush Dollar Coin Act
Sponsor: Rep. Roger Williams (R-TX)
Introduced: February 13, 2019
Referred to the House Committee on Financial Services. — Feb 13, 2019
This bill can be tracked at http://bit.ly/116-HR1173.

H.R. 1257: To require the Secretary of the Treasury to mint coins in commemoration of the United States Coast Guard.
Sponsor: Rep. Joe Courtney (D-CT)
Introduced: February 14, 2019
Referred to the House Committee on Financial Services. — Feb 14, 2019
This bill can be tracked at http://bit.ly/116-HR1257.

S. 509: A bill to require the Secretary of the Treasury to mint coins in commemoration of the United States Coast Guard.
Sponsor: Sen. Christopher Murphy (D-CT)
Introduced: February 14, 2019
Read twice and referred to the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. — Feb 14, 2019
This bill can be tracked at http://bit.ly/116-S509.

January 2019 Numismatic Legislation Review – Welcome to the 116th Congress

At noon on January 3, 2018, the 116th Congress gaveled into session. The first day of a new congressional session is mostly ceremonial and procedural. Leaders are chosen. Rules are established. Committees are formed. And the House of Representatives gets to work on a new budget.

Usually, the budget the House starts with is for the next fiscal year. This year, the 115th Congress did not finish their work and left the government unfunded. It does not matter whose side you are on or what animal you worship, the bottom line is that 800,000 federal employees, many more contractors, and the businesses that rely on their patronage were hurt. Sure, the federal employees will earn back pay but the contractors who were furloughed will not. The businesses that serve these people will also not be made whole.

But that did not stop members of Congress from submitting bills for consideration. As I write this, there have been 842 bills submitted in the House of Representatives and 268 in the Senate. Of those bills, only four have numismatic significance. All four bills were also submitted in the 115th Congress but had died in committee when that Congress adjourned for the final time.

As of now, the Financial Services Committee, chaired by Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), has not posted the rules as to what it will take for numismatic-relation legislation to move forward. Since the 112th Congress, the committee required a numismatic bill to have 250 co-sponsors. But since the control of the committee has changed parties, we will have to wait until the committee publishes their rules.

Here are the first four numismatic-related bills submitted in the 116th Congress:

H.R. 61: Carson City Mint 150th Anniversary Commemorative Coin Act of 2019
Sponsor: Rep. Mark E. Amodei (R-NV)
Introduced: January 3, 2019
Summary: This bill directs the Department of the Treasury to mint and issue $5 gold coins and $1 silver coins in commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Carson City Mint in Carson City, Nevada.All surcharges from sales of such coins shall be paid to the Nevada State Museum Dedicated Trust Fund.
Referred to the House Committee on Financial Services. — Jan 3, 2019
This bill can be tracked at http://bit.ly/116-HR61.

H.R. 500: Christa McAuliffe Commemorative Coin Act of 2019
Sponsor: Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI)
Introduced: January 11, 2019
Referred to the House Committee on Financial Services. — Jan 11, 2019
This bill can be tracked at http://bit.ly/116-HR500.

H.R. 636: To require the Secretary of the Treasury to mint coins in commemoration of Muhammad Ali.
Sponsor: Rep. John A. Yarmuth (D-KY)
Introduced: January 17, 2019
Referred to the House Committee on Financial Services. — Jan 17, 2019
This bill can be tracked at http://bit.ly/116-HR636.

S. 239: A bill to require the Secretary of the Treasury to mint coins in recognition of Christa McAuliffe.
Sponsor: Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH)
Introduced: January 28, 2019
Read twice and referred to the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. — Jan 28, 2019
This bill can be tracked at http://bit.ly/116-S239.

December 2018 Numismatic Legislative Review — End of the 115th Congress

It should come as no surprise to anyone that the 115th Congress left unfinished business. As we start the new year, 25-percent of the executive branch does not have the legal funding to operate. Those with leftover funds operated as long as they could but are now closed pending congressional action.

As with previous shutdowns, the U.S. Mint and the Bureau of Engraving and Printing are not affected. Both agencies are self-funded from their profits (seigniorage) which is held in their respective Public Enterprise Funds.

The 115th Congress is constitutionally scheduled to end at 12:00 noon on January 3, 2019, when the 116th Congress will begin. Congress will take up the new funding bills as part of the opening session.

When the new Congress gavels into session, any bill pending from the 115th Congress will be removed from the docket. It will be said that these bills will die in committee.

In reviewing December’s legslation update, there was the passage of one bill:

H.R. 1235: Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Commemorative Coin Act
Sponsor: Rep. Richard E. Neal (D-MA)
Introduced: February 27, 2017
Summary: (Sec. 3) This bill directs the Department of the Treasury to mint and issue not more than 50,000 $5 coins, 400,000 $1 coins, and 750,000 half-dollar coins in recognition and celebration of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.The coins shall be in the shape of a dome, and the design on the common reverse of the coins shall depict a basketball. Treasury shall hold a competition to determine the design of the common obverse of the coins, which shall be emblematic of the game of basketball.(Sec. 7) The bill requires all sales of such coins to include specified surcharges, which shall be paid by Treasury to the Hall to fund an endowment for increased operations and educational programming.
Message on Senate action sent to the House. — Dec 19, 2018
Presented to President. — Dec 19, 2018
Passed Senate without amendment by Voice Vote. — Dec 18, 2018
Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs discharged by Unanimous Consent. — Dec 18, 2018
Received in the Senate and Read twice and referred to the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. — Sep 26, 2017
Motion to reconsider laid on the table Agreed to without objection. — Sep 25, 2017
On motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill, as amended Agreed to by voice vote. — Sep 25, 2017
DEBATE – The House proceeded with forty minutes of debate on H.R. 1235. — Sep 25, 2017
Considered under suspension of the rules. — Sep 25, 2017
Mr. Barr moved to suspend the rules and pass the bill, as amended. — Sep 25, 2017
Referred to the House Committee on Financial Services. — Feb 27, 2017
This bill can be tracked at http://bit.ly/115-HR1235.

The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Commemorative Coin Act was sent to the White House for presidential signature on December 19, 2018. The president has ten days to act on the bill. He can sign the bill, which there is no indication that he has, and it becomes law. He could veto the bill to prevent it from becoming law.

But what if he does not sign the bill? If Congress was still in session then the bill automatically becomes law. If Congress adjourned then the bill does not become law. That is called a pocket veto.

Because of the shutdown, Congress did not adjourn while trying to resolve the issue. There were pro forma sessions, meaning that a representative gaveled in the House and Senate only to adjourn for the day. If the president did not sign or veto the bill, it has become public law. However, since the Government Printing Office (GPO), the official publisher of the U.S. government, is closed because of the shutdown, they cannot publish the results of legislation passed or vetoed. Therefore, we do not know whether this bill is now the law.

Previous administrations would announce bill signings in their regular news streams. This White House has chosen to discontinue that practice leaving us at the mercy of the currently closed GPO.

In December, the Senate passed the National Law Enforcement Museum Commemorative Coin Act by a voice vote. Although the bill was sent to the House for consideration it never left the committee and will die in committee when the 116th Congress is gaveled into session.

S. 2863: National Law Enforcement Museum Commemorative Coin Act
Sponsor: Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO)
Introduced: May 16, 2018
Held at the desk. — Dec 19, 2018
Received in the House. — Dec 19, 2018
Message on Senate action sent to the House. — Dec 17, 2018
Passed Senate without amendment by Voice Vote. — Dec 13, 2018
Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs discharged by Unanimous Consent. — Dec 13, 2018
Read twice and referred to the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. — May 16, 2018
This bill can be tracked at http://bit.ly/115-S2863.

Finally, Rep. Bruce Poliquin (R-ME), whose district includes Kennebunkport, introduced the President George H. W. Bush and Barbara Bush Dollar Coin Act. Essentially, this would have extended the Presidential $1 Coin program to include President George H.W. Bush and First Lady Barbara Bush. This bill, like many others, died in committee.

H.R. 7257: President George H. W. Bush and Barbara Bush Dollar Coin Act
Sponsor: Rep. Bruce Poliquin (R-ME)
Introduced: December 11, 2018
Referred to the House Committee on Financial Services. — Dec 11, 2018
This bill can be tracked at http://bit.ly/115-HR7257.

A full review of the 115th Congress will be published shortly after the government reopens and the GPO resumes its publishing operations.

October 2018 Numismatic-related Legislation Review — GO OUT AND VOTE!

The monthly numismatic legislation review was purposely delayed to bring you this important message:

GO OUT AND VOTE!

Every two years, all 435 seats in the House of Representatives and one-third of the Senate seats are open to election. These people are supposed to represent you in Congress. They are supposed to represent your interests. How do you want to be represented?

After the fall of Saddam Hussein, the people of Iraq had an election where multiple people were on the ballot. In the United States, we celebrated for them by showing pictures of people with purple ink-stained, fingers, the sign that they voted.

Voting is more important for your local elections. State, district, county, and municipal elections are the ones that have more impact on your lives. They impact the schools, your local roads, small businesses including your local coin dealer, trash pickup, maintenance of your local parks, and nearly everything surrounding your daily lives.

Don’t forget about the ballot initiatives. This is your chance to have a significant say in the policies that your government will have to abide by. Here in Maryland, there is a ballot initiative to create a “lock box” (where have we heard that one before?) for the state profits on gambling revenue so that it would go directly to fund education. This initiative was proposed based on lessons learned where a significant portion of the settlement from the tobacco companies that was supposed to go to healthcare initiatives was transferred to the general treasury to pay for everything else.

Does your state have ballot initiatives? Do you know what they say? How are you going to vote on them when you get to the polls?

Do you know who the candidates are? Do you agree with their position or will you be voting for them because they claim they party as you do? Do you know which incumbent actually did their job and thought about you or did they change because a deep pocket donor asked them to?

It is a cliche to claim that this is the most important election ever. It is always the most important election ever because it is the one happening right now. It is important because you must have your say in how you want your government to work for you. It is your government.

GO OUT AND VOTE!

Legislatively, Congress was in recess for October while members who are seeking re-election when home to campaign. The only changes to numismatic-related legislation were the number of co-sponsors on bills currently in committee.

If history is a lesson, we will see progress on some of these bills during the lame-duck session.

September 2018 Numismatic Legislation Review

This is a surprise. This past month Rep. Alex Mooney (R-WV) introduced a bill that would make the gains made on the sale of bullion coins issued by the U.S. Mint tax exempt. This would be for any precious metal coin. The bill says “No gain or loss shall be recognized on the sale or exchange of gold, silver, platinum, or palladium coins minted and issued by the Secretary at any time…”

The bill also includes “refined gold or silver bullion, coins, bars, rounds, or ingots which are valued primarily based on their metal content and not their form.”

It is called the Monetary Metals Tax Neutrality Act of 2018 (H.R. 6790) and was introduced on September 12, 2018.

While this may be good for the numismatic community, with the mid-term elections just over a month away and congress mired in many fights, it is difficult to see that this bill passes. Even if it passes in a lame duck session, the possibility of the Senate acting on it is very low. Of course that depends on the outcome of the election and I have been wrong about prognosticating some bills!

H.R. 6790: Monetary Metals Tax Neutrality Act of 2018
Sponsor: Rep. Alexander X. Mooney (R-WV)
Introduced: September 12, 2018
Summary: This bill amends the Internal Revenue Code to exempt gains or losses from the sale or exchange of certain coins or bullion from recognition for income tax purposes. The exemption applies to gains or losses from the sale or exchange of: (1) gold, silver, platinum, or palladium coins minted and issued by the Department of the Treasury; or (2) refined gold or silver bullion, coins, bars, rounds, or ingots which are valued primarily based on their metal content and not their form.
Referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means. — Sep 12, 2018
This bill can be tracked at http://bit.ly/115-HR6790.

Did someone say something about a square con?

NOTE: The title is NOT a typographical error. It is a commentary raised by the discussion, below.

With the flurry of legislative action last month, the only bill that I commented on was the American Innovation $1 Coin Act (Public Law No: 115-197) because it was the only one that is the law. The others were just introduced and may not be passed out of committee.

But that has not prevented speculation and discussion about the potential for these potential commemorative coins. Based on the email buzz, the two bills of interest are the Integration of Baseball Commemorative Coin Act (S. 3283 and H.R. 6469) and the Carson City Mint 150th Anniversary Commemorative Coin Act (H.R. 6221).

Reverse design of the 2014 Baseball Hall of Fame commemorative (Image courtesy of the U.S. Mint)

Regarding the Integration of Baseball Commemorative Coin Act, someone decided that the coins would be square and that has infested the numismatic media. This is not what the bill requires. In fact, the bill says that the “design on the common reverse of the coins minted under this Act shall depict a baseball diamond similar to those used by Major League Baseball.”

For those commentators who cannot read simple English, it says that the design “shall depict a baseball diamond.” Nowhere in that sentence does it say that the coins have to be shaped like the baseball diamond. A depiction and the shape of a coin are two different concepts.

Trying to understand where the idea that the coins would be square, a review of the official statement issued by Sens. Tim Scott (R-SC), Cory Booker (D-NJ), and Rep. Roger Williams (R-TX) as co-sponsors does not mention the shape of the coin.

What might have confused the issue was a report in The Hill that former Montreal Expos and Chicago Cubs legend Andre “The Hawk” Dawson talked about the coin minted in the shape of home plate. While Dawson was a great ballplayer and earned his place in the Baseball Hall of Fame, he is not a member of Congress and, apparently, did not read the bill.

The commentary about the shape does not take into consideration what the bill actually says. Aside from talking about it like it will be the law, it does not take into consideration that the bill is now in committee with less than 90-days to go until the mid-term elections. Without turning this into a political analysis blog post, there will be contention regardless of the outcome of the election. With the late introduction of this bill and the current political environment, the likelihood of this bill passing both chambers before the end of the session is highly unlikely.

Carson City Mint (1866)

A correspondent asked “Wouldn’t it be cool if the Carson City commemorative coins were struck in Carson City?” It does not matter if it is a good idea or not unless Congress changes the law, specifically 31 U.S. Code § 5131 that defines where the branches of the U.S. Mint are located, Carson City is not authorized to strike coins. Unless Carson City is added to that list, even temporarily, the U.S. Mint cannot strike any coins in Carson City. Further, the building that was once a branch mint is no longer owned by the Federal Government. Ownership was transferred to the State of Nevada that runs it as part of the Nevada State Museum.

Even though the first press used in Carson City is located in the museum, it may not meet the specifications that are required of the U.S. Mint to strike modern commemorative coins. And both the press and building are not owned by the United State government, a fact that would make those who provide oversight of the U.S. Mint’s operations a bit nervous.

While these “what if” questions might make good parlour or message board discussions, allegedly responsible industry journalists and pundits should know better.

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