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The Senate gave final approval Thursday to a bill taking the first step to recognize gold and silver as legal tender in the state.
It voted 16-7 to pass HB317, and sent it to Gov. Gary Herbert for his signature.
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.
It would not require anyone to accept them, however, but make it an option. It also would exempt sales of such coins from capital 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," Senate Majority Leader Scott Jenkins, R-Plain City, Senate sponsor of the bill, said in earlier debate. He gave senators gold chocolate coins on Thursday before debate.
But Sen. Ben McAdams, D-Salt Lake City, was not impressed. He suggested that conservatives maybe should also look at "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."
Senate Minority Leader Ross Romero, D-Salt Lake City, said exempting the sales of the coins from capital gains tax would create an incentive for buying and selling coins that he said may not be wise state policy.
Rep. Brad Galvez, R-West Haven, sponsor of the bill, 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, also 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.