COINS Act Returns, Aims to Replace $1 Notes with $1 Coins

by Darrin Lee Unser on June 14, 2013 · 16 comments

Some members of Congress seem intent on ensuring $1 coins become a standard fixture in circulation and your pocket-change. Legislation seeking that result has once again been introduced.

U.S. $1 Coins

U.S. dollar coins. From left to right, a Susan B. Anthony Dollar, a Native American Dollar featuring Sacagawea and a Presidential $1 Coin featuring Abraham Lincoln.

Known as the Currency Optimization, Innovation, and National Savings (COINS) Act, the proposed bill would eventually result in $1 coins replacing Federal Reserve $1 Notes.

S.1105 was introduced in the United States Senate on June 6, 2013 by Tom Harking (D-IA). Bipartisan support for the measure is apparent as the legislation has across the aisle backing with co-sponsors John McCain (R-AZ), Tom Coburn (R – OK) and Mike Enzi (R-WY).

Under the terms of the COINS Act, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System would be directed to undertake efforts to remove barriers to the circulation of $1 coins. This would include education for and outreach to the business sector to determine the best methods to ease the transition.

Quarterly reports would be required to tell Congress of the status of the transition. Those reports would also include any successes and failures of the changes put in place.

As stated, the goal of the measure would be to replace the $1 note with the $1 coin. To that end, the Federal Reserve System would no longer be able to order new $1 notes for circulation once one of two criteria had been met:

  1. 600,000,000 new $1 coins released into circulation annually, or
  2. a period of four years has past since the enactment of the Act

The COINS Act would also result in the sequestration of $1 coins minted and issued from 1979-1981 and again in 1999. These strikes are commonly called Susan B. Anthony dollar coins. Sequestered coins would not be released again into circulation with the exception of bulk quantities sold at face value for numismatic purposes or those used in foreign countries who have adopted the United States Dollar as their official currency.

The COINS Act was previously introduced in the 112th Congress, but failed to become law. After that previous introduction, sponsor Tom Harkin had this comment:

"Promoting the dollar coin is a smart investment for our country that saves taxpayer’s money," said Harkin. "With the deficit looming, we need only look at the cost-savings from this effort to understand why this legislation is so urgently needed. I am hopeful that this bipartisan legislation will continue to gain traction in Congress."

Currently, the newest incarnation of the COINS Act has been referred to the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. For the Currency Optimization, Innovation, and National Savings Act to become law, it must pass in the Senate and House and get signed by the President.

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

jim June 14, 2013 at 11:29 am

Anyone want to take bets? Stodgy old congressmen continue to live in the early 20th century and will oppose getting rid of the $1 bill, the penny, and eliminating Saturdays from the USPS delivery schedule. Likely this bill won’t get out of committee let alone reach the floor for a vote.

TerryP June 14, 2013 at 12:11 pm

Agreed. In order to make room in the cash register for the dollar coin, you’d have to get rid of the penny. And the penny is the largest coin produced each year at the mint. And if they got rid of it, many mint jobs would disappear overnight.

So that ain’t gonna happen…..

The tail continues to wag the dog.

Aardvark June 14, 2013 at 1:21 pm

I liked the dollar coin program and I was not happy that they suspended circulation of the presidential dollars only a few years into the program. I was buying two rolls at a time in order to build albums for my nieces and nephews and spending the rest. Now I am having to buy the coins from resellers since I do not feel like paying the mint close to $40 (with shipping) for a $25 roll of coins. It has pretty much turned me off to getting started in any new coin program the government decides to start up in the future. I am still purchasing annual proof sets but I doubt I would start another set of albums for circulating dollars, quarters, nickels or whatever else they decide to come up with since they most likely would kill it midstream now.

Brain Y June 15, 2013 at 7:26 pm

The best way to get rid of the $1 bill is for the BEP to stop printing them & pull the $1 bill out of circulation as soon as they hit the Federal Reserve Banks.

The best way to get rid of the 1 cent coin is for the US Mint to stop minting them.
There are enough pennies from the US mint to go on for years after the last one is minted. The government’s goal should be to mint the last 1 cent coin this year.

paul davidson June 16, 2013 at 10:18 am

I always said “anything politicians touch or do turns to you know what”. The people who mint the money ought to have a say in what gets minted or printed, or at least hear what recommendations there are. The director of the mint ought to be an numismatist or have some knowledge of coins or frns. The pols can pass legislation, but the mint ought to have the final say or recommend if and when what gets minted or printed. That’s all I got.

Boz June 16, 2013 at 11:37 am

So we will again find out which lobby group has more pull in Washington, the paper company in Massachusetts or the mining interests out west.

jim June 16, 2013 at 3:01 pm

I don’t think lobbying has anything to do with it. These old geezers are too stuck in their ways to even contemplate moving our monetary system forward into the 21st century – but you can bet they’ll take their money anyway.

Vachon June 16, 2013 at 5:26 pm

Arguments for or against retaining the cent aside, there’s already room in tills for the dollar coin. $50s and $100s are almost never given out in change so I put them under the $20s (separated by a card to prevent accidental giveaways) and use the slot I guess most people use for $50s and $100s for rolled coin and the other change slot for the half dollars I bring in and give out in change every shift. Some stores even counsel keeping the high denoms. UNDER the till which would also keep a slot free for dollar coins.

And if you’re gonna argue purchasing power, coins below the quarter-dollar are sufficiently lacking in such power to justify keeping them around. I work in a supermarket and out of the hundreds of thousands of items we sell each week, the average price is between $2.10 and $2.30. The cheapest regular items are Ramen soup noodles (20¢ ea.). Impulse candy at the checkout is priced no lower than 69¢ per bar. Cents, nickels, and dimes don’t fit in this paradigm.

I don’t buy into the arguments against such a move because I’m confident that product sizes would increase/decrease according for pricing structures based on quarter-dollars. I refer to the 5¢ Hershey Bar of yesteryear whose size would increase/decrease based on the price of chocolate. We have a similar thing going on now giving us 59 fl.oz. orange juice containers and 1.75 quarts of ice-cream instead of the traditional half-gallons.

george glazener June 17, 2013 at 1:26 pm

Aw, the heck with it…..Let’s ask England to take us back. Our govt. is too pathetic to do anything right.

trentbridge June 17, 2013 at 3:43 pm

Here’s how you get rid of the one cent coin. Effective one year after the legislation is passed, direct the US Mint to change the words “one cent” to “two cents’ on the existing design of the penny – same size, same composition and start minting only “two cent” coins. From the date of the enactment of the law, all one cent coins already in circulation are treated as being worth two cents. During this interim period, the US Mint will buy back all “one cent” coins in batches of one thousand or more and credit the seller “two cents” for each coin handed in i.e. in twenty dollar increments.

With a one year gap between the law passing and the new “two cent” coin being introduced, there’ll be plenty of time for every jar, pot, bottle of pennies to be unearthed and cashed in. As I understand it, the cents cost more like two cents to produce so the return of the older one cent coins will be a blessing.

Kevin June 19, 2013 at 12:46 am

Just add a zero to the currency. Oops, inflation has already done that, and more.

Munzen June 19, 2013 at 7:42 pm

Why don’t any of these bills include minting a $2 coin? Every other major country has something worth 2 bucks / pounds / euros / whatever to simplify change-making and reduce the number of coins that have to be struck.

Worst case, toss a bone to Crane Paper and the “my pockets will wear out” crowd by issuing a modernized $2 bill instead of a $ coin. That would at least cut the number of low-value bills in half. Once people got used to the idea, the bill could be replaced with a coin like they did in Canada. …. oops, I forgot, Canada also has national health insurance, went metric 35 years ago, and does all sorts of other pinko-commie things that will never happen in the US. Bad example.

george glazener June 20, 2013 at 3:17 pm

@Munzen….LMAO. You might get the liberals on this board all in a hissy fit. Which is something I try to do on a regular basis.

Grant June 28, 2013 at 7:42 am

In Canada we have both the $1 and $2 coins and it seems to work fine. I have gotten two of the new USA $1 coins in change up here in Canada and they are great looking. Don’t know why there is such resistance against replacing the dollar bills or than nostalgia.

Aardvark June 28, 2013 at 11:15 am

When I visit family in Mississauga I have no problem using $1 and $2 coins though I find they tend to accumulate in my pockets. There are at least two factors preventing adoption of the $1 coin. 1) Public reluctance to stop using paper and 2) the inability of Congress to legislate the elimination of the paper dollar due to pressure from the Massachusetts delegation which has Crane and Company (the paper manufacturers) in their state. The delegation representing the mining interests was not strong enough to overcome that opposition but was strong enough to get the coins created in the first place. Pretty much a stalemate.

brista21 March 2, 2014 at 2:19 pm

The smart thing would be to replace the $1 bill with $1 and $2 coins. A lot of people aren’t opposed to using coins in place of small bills persay but want minimal coins in their pocket. If I was getting $4 change I know I’d rather have 2 coins rather than 4, but I’m also in favor of replacing the $1 bill with $1 and $2 coins much like Europe and Canada do.

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