A bill that would prohibit most brick-and-mortar businesses from refusing paper and coin payments has cleared its first Senate stop.
The measure (SB 106), sponsored by Miami Gardens Democratic Sen. Shevrin Jones, has two more panels to clear before reaching a floor vote.
It’s needed, Jones said, to help many Floridians — particularly seniors and minorities — to continue participating in America’s increasingly digital-forward economy.
“Now in Florida, many businesses have opted for cashless payment — and it’s definitely … clear that there has been a shift toward cashless payments over the years — but we’re definitely leaving some people behind,” he said. “This stipulation impacts individuals and families who may not have electronic payments as a method of payment.”
If passed, Jones’ measure would require businesses that offer in-person sales and services and provide change in cash without charging a fee for the transaction. It would not apply to sales that take place over the phone, by mail or the internet.
Parking facilities and businesses that provide accounting, architectural, engineering, financial advisory, insurance, interior design, software development, management and consulting services would also be exempt. So would transactions in which the consumer uses a cash denomination higher than $20 and single transactions exceeding $5,000.
Businesses that violate the measure would be subject to a fine of $2,500 for the first offense, $5,000 for the second offense and up to $10,000 in fines thereafter. The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services would then assess whether further punitive measures are warranted.
Jones said he planned to file an amendment adding an existing statutory exemption for secondary metal recyclers to his measure.
Navarre Republican Rep. Joel Rudman is carrying an identical companion (HB 35). The Senate Committee on Commerce and Tourism voted to advance Jones’ bill by a 6-0 vote Tuesday. Rudman’s bill awaits a hearing before the first of three committees to which House Leader Paul Renner referred it.
Tuesday marked the first time since the 2022 Legislative Session that lawmakers weighed in on proposed restrictions on refusing cash at physical points of sale. Jones then too carried the measure with support in the House from then-Rep. Matt Willhite. The legislation died without a hearing in either chamber.
Lower-income Americans are four times likelier than their higher-income neighbors to make all or almost all of their purchases in cash, according to the Pew Research Center, which found Black consumers were far more reliant on cash than White and Hispanic shoppers. Pew found 34% of Black consumers use cash as their primary form of payment compared to 17% of Hispanics and 15% of non-Hispanic Whites.
Sixty-eight percent of millennials and 71% of Gen Z shoppers prefer forgoing paper and coin tender, according to a 2022 survey by software service company Thryv and Payments Dive. The survey also found 59% of consumers used digital wallets, touchless terminals and tap-to-pay platforms more frequently during the pandemic, and 71% said they plan to keep doing so in the future.
Meanwhile, less than a quarter of respondents 50 and older said they made no weekly purchases with cash.