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Ban on cashless stores advances in state legislature

Roman Battaglia
Delaware Public Media

House lawmakers passed a bill prohibiting most Delaware businesses from refusing to accept cash payments passed with bipartisan support last week.

State Rep. Franklin Cooke’s (D-New Castle) proposal would forbid businesses from refusing to accept cash payments with some exceptions; telephone companies, for instance, would be allowed to refuse cash payments. It would also set civil penalties for businesses that violate the law.

Cooke says for the roughly 20 percent of Delawareans who are either unbanked or under-banked, meaning they do not have a bank account or easy access to banking services, cashless stores are inaccessible.

Many, such as young people, homeless and low-income residents, and students still rely on cash to get food, medicine and other goods," he said.

Cooke notes his City of New Castle area district includes a so-called ‘banking desert’ where residents can’t easily access in-person banking.

Delaware lawmakers considered similar legislation early in 2020, but it stalled because of the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island have all passed similar laws in recent years. The bill passed in the House without opposition; it now heads to the Senate.

Paul Kiefer comes to Delaware from Seattle, where he covered policing, prisons and public safety for the local news site PubliCola.