Florida Lawmakers Fail to Pass Mandatory Cash Acceptance Bills

Florida lawmakers have once again bypassed bills that would prohibit most physical businesses from rejecting cash and coin payments. The legislation, carried by Miami Gardens Democratic Sen. Shevrin Jones and Navarre Republican Rep. Joel Rudman, aimed to curb the growing trend of cashless businesses in and beyond the state.

Their proposal was focused on ensuring that the older and less financially stable residents of Florida are not left behind in an increasingly digital commerce environment. This issue arises from many businesses transitioning to electronic payments, leaving those without access to such payment forms at a disadvantage. The proposal advocates for everyone, regardless of their financial status or background, to have the full ability to participate in the economy.

The need for this proposal is evident when considering that lower-income Americans are four times more likely than their wealthier counterparts to make all or nearly all of their purchases in cash. According to the Pew Research Center, Black consumers rely heavily on cash compared to White and Hispanic shoppers.

Cash Usage Among Different Demographics

Demographic studies show that 34% of Black consumers predominantly use cash, compared to 17% of Hispanics and 15% of non-Hispanic Whites. These numbers are a stark contrast to the younger generations’ preferences. About 68% of millennials and 71% of Generation Z shoppers prefer to avoid using cash, as per a 2022 survey by software service company Thryv and Payments Dive. Interestingly, less than a quarter of respondents aged 50 and above reported not making any weekly purchases with cash.

Implications of the Proposed Legislation

If passed, the bills would have required businesses offering in-person sales and services to accept and provide change in cash without charging a transaction fee. However, this would not apply to sales over the phone, internet, or by mail, or to transactions where a consumer uses a cash denomination higher than $20 and single transactions exceeding $5,000. Certain businesses, such as parking facilities and companies providing various services, would also be exempt.

The Future of the Proposal

Despite the initial momentum of SB 106, the bill was pulled from consideration before reaching the Senate Fiscal Policy Committee. The reason for this, as expressed by Sen. Jones, was that the House companion had not moved. He cited a lack of support from the chair of one of the committees it would have needed to pass through. However, he remains hopeful and plans to try again next year.

It’s worth noting that the bill’s progress this year was more substantial than in 2022, when the Legislatures outright ignored the proposal. So, while the future of cash payments in Florida remains uncertain, proponents of the legislation are not giving up their fight to ensure inclusivity in the state’s economy.

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