In a new law that could put every trading post, Goodwill, flea market, garage sale and Craigslist merchant in the state of Louisiana out of business, a bipartisan group of elected representatives has opted to ban all cash payments for the buying and selling of used goods.

Though House Bill 195 was intended to make it easier to track the sales of stolen goods by giving police a paper trail to follow, the unintended consequences could be much more widespread. Namely, the law requires second-hand sales be made paid for with credit cards, paper checks, electronic transfer or money orders. Cash is prohibited.

It was signed into law on July 1, but flew so far under the radar that practically nobody in the media noticed until this week, when Louisiana's KLFY Eyewitness News 10 put a spotlight on the new rules and their likely impacts on local business.

The law also requires second-hand sellers to obtain personal information about each buyer -- information like names, addresses, driver's license number and even, if applicable, their license plate number -- and turn it over to state officials.

The prohibition on cash sales is confusing on its face, and appears to contradict the very text on each Federal Reserve note in circulation. "This note is legal tender for all debts, public and private," U.S. dollars plainly state.

In a published opinion piece, attorney Thad D. Ackel, Jr. suggested that lawmakers have decided to sacrifice "individual privacy, economic, civil liberty and freedom" in the name of law and order.

"Interestingly enough, although [p]awnshops are still required to obtain clients personal information and transmit their client database information to law enforcement, they are exempt from the restriction of cash payments," he explained. "A jeweler next door to a pawnshop cannot offer clients the same payment method offered by its competing pawnshop neighbor."

Read the bill's text, below.



Photo: Flickr user Sh4rp_i.