PHOENIX -- A bill that would make gold and silver legal tender in Arizona has passed both the Arizona Senate and the Arizona House of Representatives.
"All this bill does right now is put into place the language to recognize gold and silver coin as legal tender," said Sen. Chester Crandell, the Heber Republican who authored the bill.
The state Department of Revenue has refused to back the bill, but the Arizona House passed an amendment to the bill ensuring that the Department of Revenue would not have to accept gold and silver as payment. Crandell must approve the amendment before it goes to both houses for a final reading then to Gov. Jan Brewer for signing.
Crandell said the bill would remove the commodities tax currently in place for gold and silver.
"This gives a lot of opportunity for those who would like to use an alternative method of payment," Crandell said.
The current bill only has language in place to add gold and silver as legal forms of currency. It does not include instructions for how merchants would accept payment, though Crandell said it would not necessarily mean that customers would have to lug around gold coins.
"I don’t think we need to go back into the dark ages and everybody has to take their gold coins to the store," Crandell said.
Instead, he said he envisions a system where private companies hold the gold and silver and issue credit or debit cards for people to use.
Arizona Democratic Sen. Steve Farley opposed the bill.
"I’ve looked at some of the charts of the value of gold and silver over time and they are anything but stable," Farley said. "In the 19th century when we had private mints we had counterfeiting problems, depressions, bank runs, and people buying up all the gold coins and cornering the market."