Tapping the brakes on the region’s move to a more digital economy, Miami-Dade County commissioners on Tuesday passed a law requiring most retailers to accept cash from customers.
The ordinance adopted on a unanimous vote imposes fines of up to $1,000 for stores that don’t accept cash from customers paying with bills of $20 or less. First offenses would get a warning, followed by increasing fines for subsequent violations. The legislation exempts online transactions and service providers. It also exempts sports venues if they provide a gift-card machine that accepts cash for attendees who don’t want to pay electronically.
“I want to make sure that our residents have an option to use the legal tender of our country,” Commissioner René Garcia, the ordinance’s sponsor, said after the vote. “Also it ensures that everyone — elderly, low-income, disabled — continue to have access to events and parks.”
Mayor Daniella Levine Cava, who has 10 days to veto the ordinance before it takes effect on May 27, said she supports the legislation. The new law does not prevent retailers from accepting credit cards and other forms of electronic payment.
No federal law requires businesses to accept cash. New York City requires retailers to accept bills $20 and lower for transactions, with similar laws in Philadelphia, San Francisco, New Jersey and Massachusetts.
Business groups opposing the cash requirements call them government intrusion in a system where market forces should dictate whether accepting cash makes economic sense.