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Bill Introduced for Steel Cents, Nickels, Dimes, and Quarters

Rep. Steve Stivers of Ohio introduced a bill in the House of Representatives on April 25, 2013 that seeks to alter the composition of the one-cent, five cent, ten cent, and twenty-five cent coins produced for daily circulation in the United States. The legislation, introduced on April 25, 2013, would authorize the four coins to be minted only in American Steel.

The bill, known as H.R. 1719, has two cosponsors from Ohio, Rep. Tim Ryan and Patrick Tiberi and has been referred to the House Financial Services Committee. Ohio is among the top three states for steel production and processing.

The American cent has a composition of 97.5 percent zinc and 2.5 percent copper, costing the U.S. Mint 2 cents to mint and distribute. The penny accounted for 64.2 percent of all circulating coin shipments in 2012 as more than 5.8 billion units were shipped to Federal Reserve Banks.

The nickel is composed of 91.67 percent copper and 8.3 percent nickel, costing less than face value to produce.

Rep. Stivers notes in a press release that the majority of copper, nickel, and zinc used to produce the cent, nickel, dime, and quarter is imported from Canada, and the push for steel coinage rides somewhat on the push for American goods, as it requires specifically American coinage be made from American steel.

The appearance of the coins is to remain the same, with the penny being coated in copper in order to maintain its current appearance.

The press release from Rep. Stivers also declares the United States could save up to $433 million over 10 years by making the change in the composition of its coinage to steel.

Opponents to the bill could possibly include coin collectors across the country and proponents of the so-called sound monetary system. Backers of a gold-backed currency in the U.S., including advocates of a return to the historical gold standard, may produce the harshest opposition to the bill.

The Coin Modernization, Oversight, and Continuity Act of 2010 has enabled the U.S. Mint to conduct ongoing research and development on alternatives to the current composition of its coinage.

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