New Dollar Coins a'comin'

I wrote about the idea for new dollar coins back in May, and according to this article the bill has been passed. We can expect to see new dollar coins depicting past Presidents of the United States in 2007.

(AP) - New dollar coins featuring all 37 of the nation’s dead presidents will begin rolling out of the U.S. Mint in 2007 under a bill Congress is sending to President Bush.

Lawmakers hope the coins - and an accompanying $10 gold piece for collectors featuring former first ladies - will be a big money raiser for the government like the 50-state quarter program. They also hope the dollar pieces will rev up interest in the Sacagawea dollars, which have been little-used.

The quarter program had raked in roughly $4 billion in revenues by its midpoint, said Becky Bailey, a U.S. Mint spokeswoman.

“The dollar coin is a valuable educational tool - much like the 50-state quarter series - that will help inspire interest in the history of the leaders of our country,” Sen. John Sununu, R-N.H., the sponsor of the legislation, said in a statement. It passed the House 291-113.

The front of the coins would depict former presidents, but not those who are living or have been dead for less than two years, and the backs would show the Statue of Liberty. Four coins a year would be issued, beginning in 2007, in the presidents’ order of service. The U.S. Treasury secretary would have authority over the designs.

As of now, there would be 38 coins issued for the 37 presidents - Grover Cleveland served two nonconsecutive terms and would be on two coins.

The bill also would create a companion gold bullion coin program bearing images of former first ladies and emblems of their causes on $10 coins. Companion coins for those presidents who had no spouse would show images of liberty and themes of the presidents’ tenures. The coins would be 99.99 percent pure gold.

The Sacagawea coin, named for the Indian woman who helped Meriwether Lewis and William Clark find their way to the Pacific Ocean, was introduced in 2000 but never caught on with the public. One-third of dollar coins issued would still be Sacagawea golden dollars.

Rep. Michael Castle, R-Del., who was a main advocate of the 50-state quarter program, sponsored similar legislation in the House that passed in April but did not include the one-third requirement.

“I find that to be very cumbersome,” said Castle, who still supported the Senate bill. “We made allowances for returning” to issuing Sacagawea coins after the presidential program ends.

North Dakota’s delegation, Democratic Sens. Byron Dorgan and Kent Conrad and Democratic Rep. Earl Pomeroy, was concerned the presidents would replace Sacagawea, who is considered by many to be North Dakotan. The senators came on board only when the one-third requirement was included as a compromise.

The bill, which passed the Senate last month by voice vote, requires the Federal Reserve System and Treasury secretary to consult with vending machine operators, transit officials and car wash operators, among others, to make sure the coin is easily distributed.

(via Forbes)

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