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Eye On Boise

Tue., March 20, 2012, 3:40 p.m.

House kills gold, silver coin bill on 35-35 tied vote

After much debate, the House has just killed Rep. Phil Hart's gold and silver coin bill on a 35-35, tied vote. The bill sought to declare gold and silver coins to be legal tender in Idaho, and Hart said it would allow people to pay for transactions like buying a car in gold and silver coin. "In the attorney general's opinion that was written on this bill there as a big misunderstanding," Hart said. "The author of the opinion thought this legislation would set up some sort of alternative currency, when in fact what it does is declare to be legal tender gold and silver coins that are already legal tender as declared by Congress."

Hart said in some transactions, the coins would only be good for face value - $50 for a one-ounce gold coin, or $1 for a one-ounce silver coin - but if buyer and seller agreed, it could be at a much higher market value as determined by that day's "London fix." He told the House, "Gold and silver has been money for 6,000 years. I think the state of Idaho ought to be recognizing it as money today."

Rep. Vito Barbieri, R-Dalton Gardens, backed the bill, saying, "To allow us to have an alt ernate way to store our wealth that is money is only practical given the out-of-control spending of Washington, D.C."  Rep. Lenore Barrett, R-Challis, spoke out in favor of the bill. "Why is it so hard for people to understand the value of solid, solid money?" she asked. "We used to be on the gold standard, worked a lot better than what we have now. If I understand what I hear on the news, our dollar isn't worth piddly."

Opponents including Rep. Grant Burgoyne, D-Boise, raised questions about the measure and its provisions. "If there is anybody who thinks their folding money isn't worth very much, just send it my direction," he said.

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Eye On Boise

Short takes and breaking news from the Idaho Legislature and the state capital.