Two coin related bills have just been signed into law by the President. The first will increase Congressional oversight of circulating coin production and materials, while the second will likely result in the issuance of a new palladium bullion coin.
The bill H.R. 6162 Coin Modernization, Oversight, and Continuity Act of 2010 was introduced by Melvin Watt of North Carolina on September 22, 2010. It passed in the House on September 29, in the Senate on November 30, and was signed by the President on December 14.
The Secretary of the Treasury will now be required to make biennial reports to specified committees on the production costs and cost trends of circulating coins. The Secretary may also make recommendations for changes in metallic content or coin production methodology, but the authority to put these changes into production will remain with Congress.
The new law will also make certain amendments related to the US Mint’s current bullion programs. American Gold Eagles and Silver Eagles will now be struck in “qualities and quantities that the Secretary determines are sufficient to meet public demand”. This would presumably allow for greater flexibility in authorizing collector versions of the coin.
The specifications of America the Beautiful Silver Bullion Coins are also adjusted to require the coins to be “likenesses” of the corresponding quarter dollars rather than “exact duplicates”. Also, the requirement for edge lettering is removed and the diameter may be 2.5 inches to 3.0 inches, rather than 3 .0 inches.
Separately, H.R. 6166 America Eagle Palladium Bullion Coin Act of 2010 was also signed into law by the President on December 14. The bill had been introduced by Dennis Rehberg of Montana on September 22 and passed in the House on September 29 and Senate on November 30.
Provided that a marketing study determines that there is adequate demand, the United States Mint would be required to mint and issue palladium bullion coins. The American Palladium Eagles would contain one ounce of .9995 fine palladium with a nominal face value of $25.
Designs would be close likenesses of the work of Adolph A. Weinman, specifically the obverse of the Mercury Dime and the reverse of the 1907 American Institute of Architects medal. The US Mint may additionally strike proof or uncirculated versions for collectors. The first Palladium Eagles are required to be minted and issued not more than one year after the submission of the required marketing study.