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Cent out, nickel changed

Legislation calling for the end of production of the U.S. cent, the $1 Federal Reserve Note and a change to the composition of the nickel has been introduced in the U.S. Senate by Senators John McCain, R-Ariz., and Mike Enzi, R. Wyo.

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Rather than outright abolition, the bill calls for a 10-year suspension of the production of the cent. Not later than three years after this suspension the Government Accountability Office would be ordered to study the effect of the suspension and recommend whether production should stay suspended or started up again.

The GAO would consider savings to the taxpayer, determine whether demand for cents had been met by existing supplies and whether it would continue to be met from existing supplies going forward.

Collectors would still be able to buy cents from the Mint as the Treasury secretary would be permitted to produce them for the numismatic market.

The legislation would set an end date for placing $1 notes into circulation two years after passage into law. It orders the Federal Reserve Board of Governors to ensure adequate supplies of $1 coins to meet demand for the denomination.

The legislation would require the retirement of $1 notes from circulation but would allow the Federal Reserve to issue this denomination of note specially for collectors.

A composition change would be ordered for the nickel, raising the copper content from the present 75 percent to 80 percent and reduce the nickel content from 25 percent to 20 percent.

This is supposed to be done as long as it reduces costs to taxpayers, can be done without affecting coin-acceptors for vending machines and have no impact on the public or stakeholders.

Further increase in the percentage of copper content could be undertaken if the director of the Mint submits a study to Congress on such a modification, and meets the other requirements of seamless introduction as applies to the 80 percent composition.

The legislation, which is numbered as S. 759, is called Currency Optimization, Innovation, and National Savings Act of 2017.

It has been referred to the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. No other senators have signed on as co-sponsors.

This article was originally printed in Numismatic News. >> Subscribe today.

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