A law meant to protect consumers by prohibiting businesses from refusing to accept cash took effect on April 4. There’s just one problem — it’s unenforceable. Or, rather, DC officials put off enforcement during the public health emergency, and they haven’t allocated the $750,000 over four years that the city’s chief financial officer says is needed to pay for its enforcement.
“Banning the use of cash is a discriminatory practice,” then-Council member David Grosso said in 2019 when he introduced the measure. Such a policy “disproportionately impacts the 10% of DC residents who are unbanked, and an additional 25% of residents who are underbanked and may not have access to a credit card.”
The council approved the bill unanimously in December 2019.
Mayor Muriel Bowser did not include funding to enforce this protection in her budget proposal for fiscal year 2022, and the DC Council did not bring up the issue at last week’s budget work session. Without enforcement of the law, businesses in the District are dropping cash payment options more rapidly than anywhere else in the country, according to one recent study.