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Coin Bills Await Congress
By David L. Ganz, Numismatic News
September 19, 2013

This article was originally printed in Numismatic News.
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As Congress went on vacation this summer, some pundits declared the Republic safe. It was, but Congress is now back in session and they are tinkering with a variety of laws that affect collectors as well as collecting.

Some activity may garner the heart, soul and attention of Congress; others are simply drive-by proposals, meaning a member of Congress learned of a need,, and then attempted to respond to it legislatively.

Most of these bills go nowhere (and Congress has 20,000 or more of these proposals in a typical year). The overwhelming majority simply don’t make the first or even second cut – and are soon put into the book of memories.

Another Congressional Gold Medal was authorized in July just before Congress went on its summer break. The aim: to honor members of the First Special Services Force, in recognition of its superior service during World War II.

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Pending legislation now that autumn has arrived includes what should have been a sure fire hit a couple of years ago, H.R. 627, the National Park Service 100th Anniversary Commemorative Coin Act for 2016, but it is falling flat. It does have 304 co-sponsors. Its lack of fizz may be due to parks being taken for granted. (The package calls for up to 100,000 gold $5s, 500,000 silver dollars and 750,000 50 cent copper-nickel coins.

What might be a big surprise is H.R. 2633: “Thirteenth Amendment Commemorative Coin Act,” a true first if it were going anywhere. It is the first time anyone has tried to honor the anti-slavery amendment to the Constitution. It was introduced July 9 by Rep. Danny Davis and has 72 co-sponsors.

Some others: a centennial commemorative set marking the Panama-Pacific Exposition of 1915 is warranted. H.R. 2760 was introduced in the House July 19 by Rep. Nancy Pelosi.

So far, there are just 13 co-sponsors.

This proposal will probably appeal to collectors more than most legislation of this kind because it takes a familiar theme and adds what could be a popular twist.

It would authorize up to 75,000 each of octagonal and round $5 gold pieces. These would be smaller versions of the octagonal and round gold $50s struck in 1915.

The designs of these and the others would be almost identical to their counterparts of a century ago.

Also called for by the legislation are 50,000 gold $2.50 coins, 50,000 $1 gold pieces and 250,000 silver half dollars.

The coins would be dated 2017. The gold $5s and half dollars would use a Roman numeral date. The others would use Arabic numerals.

The legislation also says the Treasury secretary may issue clad versions of the half dollar design starting in 1917 and running for five consecutive years. Mintage total each year cannot exceed half of all half dollars produced in that year.

Surcharge income would be directed to support adaptive reuse of the Old San Francisco Mint. There would be a $35 surcharge on each $5 coin, $20 on the $2.50, $15 on the silver dollar and $10 on the half dollar.

With the Baseball Hall of Fame centennial coins in the bag for next year, Pro Football Hall of Famers are looking to Congress and the President to get their own coins for 2017. Called for by H.R. 1653 are up to 50,000 $5 gold coins, 400,000 silver dollars and 750,000 clad half dollars So far there are just 34 co-sponsors, and pro football is the richest professional sport, but this idea cannot be written off.

Congress should have room for one or two coin bills this year. There may be a lot of amendments to them as special interests get involved. We will watch and wait in the coming weeks to see what happens.

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