In a narrow 5-4 vote, the King County Council voted on July 27 to require retail businesses, including restaurants in unincorporated King County to accept cash payments. Your government affairs team opposed this legislation and advocated throughout the process to improve the legislation. We were able to achieve significant changes through the amendment process.
First, the legislation originally had an effective date of six months after passage, it was amended to include a two-year delay, so it will not go into effect until July 1, 2025.
Second, the original proposal included a private right of action. The bill was not only amended to remove such action but instead asks the county executive to analyze the best way to enforce the legislation by December 2024. Your government affairs team is committed to engaging in this process.
Third, retailers may refuse cash if they provide a cash conversion device on-premises or in a location near the retail establishment if shared with other retailers.
Additionally, the legislation was amended to include an exemption process for businesses with the Hearing Examiner. Businesses can seek an exemption for reasons including a history of theft, distance from banks, and single on-site employees. We will actively work to create a guidance document to assist any members seeking an exemption.
The legislation was also amended to set the highest bill denomination to be required to accept at $20. A business may refuse cash if it has reason to believe it’s counterfeit.
Finally, a single cash transaction cannot be greater than $200.
The legislation now goes to the county executive who can either sign it into law, let it pass without signature or veto. We will continue to share our concerns of public safety to businesses and employees through this process and that this is not the right time to make it harder to do business in our county and create separate rules for businesses operating in unincorporated King County.