- Category: Penny News
Contact: Mark Weller
For Immediate Release: August 6, 2007
WASHINGTON, DC - Legislation introduced last week in the House and Senate would give the Mint the authority to change the metal composition of coins. Under current law, Congress determines the size, weight, composition and design of coins.
House Financial Services Chairman Barney Frank and Subcommittee on Domestic and International Monetary Policy Chairman Luis Gutierrez introduced H.R. 3330, the “Coinage Materials Modernization Act of 2007.” Senate companion legislation, S. 1986, was introduced by Senator Wayne Allard, a member of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. Both bills are an effort to save taxpayers over $100 million per year with alternative metals.
Mark Weller, Executive Director of Americans for Common Cents, noted that Congress must consider two issues in this debate. "The initial question is whether Congress will hand over to the U.S. Mint powers granted to Congress by the Founding Fathers," Weller said. Article 1 of the Constitution gives Congress the power to determine the composition and design of U.S. coins, a power they have exercised since 1792. According to Weller, there is an equally pressing question about options to make our coins more cost effectively.
According to Weller, the Mint is wise to explore various options to make coins more cost effectively. “All U.S. coins, not just the penny, are impacted by higher metal costs,” Weller said. The Mint has stated publicly that it takes almost a dime - 9.5 cents - to make every nickel. “It makes good business sense to keep all your options open and look for ways to save money through innovation,” Weller added.
Pennies are currently made out of copper-plated zinc. “Like most commodities, zinc prices have gone up and down over time, but over the long haul, American taxpayers have benefited,” said Weller. “The U.S. Mint since 1982 has made more than $800 million from the penny. ”
Americans for Common Cents is a broad based and informal coalition of charitable organizations, historians, coin collectors and those involved in penny production who share a common interest in the penny's history and continued circulation.