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The Senate gave preliminary approval Wednesday to recognize gold and silver as legal tender in the state. But one critic suggested that maybe lawmakers should also consider allowing salt as legal tender, too.

Sen. Ben McAdams, D-Salt Lake City, said conservative lawmakers pushing the idea maybe should also look "whether or not salt should be a form of legal tender. It has been a form of tender in the past... We have an abundance of salt in Utah. It could really shore up our economy."

Still, the Senate voted 21-4 to give preliminary approval to pass HB317. The Senate must vote on it one more time to give it final approval.

The measure would recognize as legal tender gold and silver coins issued by the federal government — not just their face value, but also their value in gold and silver or to a collector, and exempt sales from personal gains tax. It also would order the state to study whether Utah should establish an alternative form of legal tender, such as one backed by silver and gold.

"It will put some pressure on the federal government. That's the goal here because right now we have a dollar that's just running away with inflation and our hope is that this is a little bit of a shock that'll say we want to deal with inflation," said Senate Majority Leader Scott Jenkins, R-Plain City, Senate sponsor of the bill.

Rep. Brad Galvez, R-West Haven, earlier told the House, "This is a step in preparedness, a step in security that allows us to be able to help hold up our economy as the dollar continues to shrink."

Rep. Ken Ivory, R-West Jordan, earlier said, for example, that a 1960s John F. Kennedy half-dollar coin — 90 percent silver — would have bought three gallons of gasoline with its face value in the mid-60s. But the value of the silver in it today would buy about five gallons of gas, while the face value of the coin would buy only a fraction of a gallon.

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