State capitol building Salem Oregon.

State Capitol building in Salem.

Is it fair for a business to discriminate against someone because of their natural hair? What if they wear braids?


House Bill 4107 would make it the law in Oregon to protect against that sort of discrimination. State Sen. Tim Knopp, R-Bend, is one of the bill’s sponsors.

That aspect of the bill is fairly straightforward. But HB 4107 also contains a provision that would basically require businesses to accept U.S. coins and currency as payment. Businesses going cashless could still happen in some cases. Mostly not.

The “no cashless” provision of the bill got some resistance at legislative hearings this week.

Business representatives questioned why the government should be ordering businesses to accept U.S. currency. Why should the government make that decision?

Well, the reason is simple. Some consumers don’t have access to debit or credit cards. Cash is their only option. It is not fair to discriminate against them.

Business representatives also complained there can be additional safety concerns with keeping cash at a business. That is true. It’s not enough to kill the bill.

And there was also a question raised about why the bill makes this requirement of businesses but does not require public bodies — state government, local governments, park districts and more — to accept cash. It makes no sense to not require government entities to take the same steps as businesses to accept cash. If the purpose is to help people out who don’t have access to debit or credit cards, why wouldn’t government be required to do that as well?

There are some limitations in the bill on when cash is required. Cash payment in coins can still be refused in quantities more than $100 and cash can be refused in denominations of $50 or $100. Cash can also be refused for transactions taking place over the phone, by mail or the internet. There are other exceptions as well.

The bill may require some amendments. But if the bill moves forward, public bodies should be required to accept cash under the same rules as businesses.

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