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Have change for a gold bar? Arizona moves toward making gold and silver legal tender

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How’s this for symbolic? Arizona lawmakers have put their trust in gold and silver. The House passed a bill Monday that makes the precious metals legal currency.

That means people in Arizona with a little extra gold lying around will soon have an easier time spending it.    

“This gives them the ability to use it as tender and have the same recognition as the paper dollar coming out of the Federal Reserve,” said Republican State Sen. Chester Crandell.

Crandell sponsored the bill, which models a law Utah passed in 2011. It’s also got a supporter in Mike Rowlands, a broker with Scottsdale Bullion & Coin. Rowlands said gold protects against a U.S. dollar that’s losing value because of the federal government’s growing debt.

“We know in the situation where we’re at they continue to pump money in and pump money in, which eventually that game is going to end,” Rowlands said. 

Still, putting gold to work will be complicated. For one thing, prices fluctuate rapidly. A $50-gold piece on the table at Rowlands’ Scottsdale office would sell for more than $1,500 at today’s prices.

“You’re not buying a loaf of bread with that,” Rowlands said. 

Businesses would be able to decide for themselves if they want to accept bullion as payment. Monica Heizenrader says she won’t risk it. She said she’s afraid of getting counterfeit coins. Heizenrader runs MacAlpine’s Vintage Clothing Boutique in Phoenix. Her shop is full of expensive vintage sofas.

She says she can’t afford to get scammed. “Eight hundred, a $1,000 on a piece of furniture, that will hurt a lot,” she said. 

There is talk of repositories where people can deposit gold and then draw down the balance with a debit card. But how that will work is still unclear. The bill’s sponsor said details will come later. 

So Heizenrader will stick to what she knows best. 

“We take cash or credit,” she said. 

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