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Republican lawmaker wants customers to bank on Ohio businesses accepting their cash

 A customer pays with cash in a grocery store
A customer pays with cash in a grocery store

It’s estimated the number of businesses that don’t accept cash has doubled since the start of the COVID pandemic.

But even though many people have become comfortable paying with a smart phone or credit or debit card, a Republican state lawmaker wants to move the other way and make sure businesses are required to accept cash along with other forms of payment.

Some people use cash to avoid electronic transaction tracking data. And the FDIC says 4.6% of Ohio households have no bank account, many of them immigrants and/or low income.

“Think immigrants, low income people may have trouble getting banked. Cash is their only option. Are we going to have a situation where they can't participate fully in the market? The other part of it is just sort of a privacy issue," said Sen. Bill Blessing (R-Colerain Township).

While Republicans often balk at new regulations for businesses, Blessing said those are reasons why he wants to require businesses to take cash in the bill he's proposed.

Blessing pointed to the Americans with Disabilities Act.

"That's been very helpful to people with disabilities. And outside of action for that, would there have been, I guess, the movement towards building buildings to be more handicapped accessible? Maybe. I don't know. But if businesses found that to be a large expense, I don't know that they would have done it on their own," Blessing said. "The point is, we do have regulations on businesses. It just depends on what makes sense here in light of a societal good."

Blessing’s bill allows customers to sue businesses that won’t take cash for $5,000 in non-economic damages. And it includes exceptions such as municipal parking programs and major sports stadiums.

Federal law doesn’t require cash to be accepted, but some cities and states do.

And Blessing said if the move to cashless transactions continues, he expects lawmakers will want privacy protections for consumers’ financial data.

Copyright 2022 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.

Karen is a lifelong Ohioan who has served as news director at WCBE-FM, assignment editor/overnight anchor at WBNS-TV, and afternoon drive anchor/assignment editor in WTAM-AM in Cleveland. In addition to her daily reporting for Ohio’s public radio stations, she’s reported for NPR, the BBC, ABC Radio News and other news outlets. She hosts and produces the Statehouse News Bureau’s weekly TV show “The State of Ohio”, which airs on PBS stations statewide. She’s also a frequent guest on WOSU TV’s “Columbus on the Record”, a regular panelist on “The Sound of Ideas” on ideastream in Cleveland, appeared on the inaugural edition of “Face the State” on WBNS-TV and occasionally reports for “PBS Newshour”. She’s often called to moderate debates, including the Columbus Metropolitan Club’s Issue 3/legal marijuana debate and its pre-primary mayoral debate, and the City Club of Cleveland’s US Senate debate in 2012.