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A Penny for Your Thoughts?
As we near the restart of the legislative session on July 20, I wanted to remind you that my office is open during usual business hours and always happy to help. Please do not hesitate to call with any questions or concerns you may have, especially as the final 17 days of the session approach. One concern that has been raised several times over the past week is the coin shortage our country is facing, leading some retailers to ask for exact change or decline cash payments altogether. This week’s column will dig into the reasons behind the coin shortage and what you can do to help.
Like the other shortages we’ve faced over the last few months, the lack of coins in our country can be attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic. There are three different factors contributing to the shortage. First, brick and mortar business closures during the pandemic led to more people shopping online, cutting cash transactions and disrupting normal circulation patterns for coins. Next, many banks closed their lobbies and coin collection machines were shut down, limiting options for those who wanted to deposit their spare change. Finally, the U.S. Mint’s coin production has been slashed due to measures meant to protect its employees from COVID-19. This triad has created the perfect storm for a coin shortage that has left banks and other businesses scrambling.
The Federal Reserve is working to address the low inventories by rationing coins sent to banks, encouraging consumers to bring in their spare change, ramping up productivity in the U.S. Mint, and creating the U.S. Coin Task Force to address the issue. Yes, the federal government has created a task force to tell us what we already know: we need more coins. Who would have thought that a “penny for your thoughts” would have to go through so much bureaucratic red tape?
Although the Federal Reserve is confident that this coin shortage issue will be resolved once the economy returns to normal operations, there are still things you can do to help. Now is a great time to break open the piggy bank to cash in your spare change. Our society has moved towards digital transactions with debit and credit cards in the last two generations, but the security of cash transactions can never be rendered obsolete. Cash and coins must be maintained as legal tender in our society, both for financial and national security.
As always, I welcome your input on issues important to you. Follow along on my Facebook and Twitter pages, both entitled “Senator Julie Slama” for more updates, or contact me directly at Senator Julie Slama, District 1 State Capitol, PO Box 94604, Lincoln, NE 68509-4604; telephone 402-471-2733; email: email@example.com