The Arizona Senate gave preliminary approval today to a bill that would recognize gold and silver as legal tender in the state, an effort its sponsor said harkens back to a basic reading of the United States Constitution and respect for a basic form of wealth.
SB 1439, sponsored by Sen. Chester Crandell, R-Heber, was approved by the Senate Committee of the Whole, but not without a satirical objection by Sen. Steve Farley, D-Tucson. He offered an amendment that would have added livestock, cotton, citrus and sunbeams, as well as copper bullion, to the list of legal tender recognized in Arizona.
Each item is pictured on the Arizona state seal, which reads “Ditat Deus,” Latin for “God enriches.”
“Why not help this bill along by making it something that would be more Arizona-centric and recognize what we recognize as value in Arizona?” Farley asked. “God enriches us through the Five Cs, so why not make the Five Cs legal tender?’’
He also offered more serious objections: If the bill is approved, stores may need a system of scales and professionals on hand to value gold or silver, and sales taxes would also have to be paid with gold if that’s what’s used to make a purchase, Farley said.
“You could do that just as easily with livestock and citrus,” Farley quipped. “You could get a bag of oranges and add a tangerine for sales tax.”
Senate President Andy Biggs, R-Gilbert, opposed the amendment, which he described as a poor attempt at humor “more appropriate for Saturday Night Live.”
Crandell assured fellow senators that his proposal is no joking matter.
“Some of these bills come from constituents and they feel very compassionate about what they are,” said Crandell, R-Heber. “To ridicule and make fun of a bill that is being put through I think is very unbecoming of the profession we have down here.”
Crandell has said he simply wants follow the U.S. Constitution as it once was, harkening back to a day when gold and silver were used to purchase goods. It’s still in the Constitution, and some residents want their gold and silver recognized as legal tender by the state, he said.
“A simple reading of the United State Constitution will allow you to understand that the federal Constitution allows states to mint and coin money,” Biggs said.
But Farley said his amendment was intended to demonstrate his concerns with the bill, which he said could result in forcing businesses to determine the value of silver and gold specie being used to make a purchase.
“The bill itself ridicules our entire financial system,” Farley said. “I actually have serious difficulties with the idea that we should be able to allow anyone anywhere to present any form of gold and silver, and this is simply a demonstration of how the underlying bill has serious problems with it.”
Farley’s amendment was defeated, but the bill moved forward with an amendment introduced by Crandell delaying the implementation of the measure to address concerns about how purchases would be made using gold and silver bullion.
Crandell has said that the stores wouldn’t be forced to accept gold and silver, but at least with this bill, they could if they chose to.
“This is simply to recognize it in law, and how to spend that and how to use that will be later put in,” Crandell said.