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House approves commemorative coins for National Park Service centennial

The centennial of the National Park Service (NPS) would be commemorated with a gold coin under legislation passed by the House on Tuesday, April 29. The House approved the National Park Service 100th Anniversary Commemorative Coin Act (H.R. 627), which would order the Department of the Treasury to mint gold, silver and clad coins. The Treasury would do so only during 2016, the centennial year.

All coins minted under the act would carry a surcharge of $35 per gold coin, $10 per silver coin, and $5 per clad coin The clad coins would be worth fifty cents. Surcharge money would go to the National Park Foundation (NPF) to further its missions of fostering enjoyment and appreciation of the parks and for protecting natural resources. The legislation would forbid surcharge money from being used to buy land, though.

The House passed the bill by a lopsided vote of 403 to 13. The measure picked up considerable support since it was introduced last year, with 308 members of the House sponsoring it. The same legislation (S. 1158) has been pending before the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing & Urban Affairs since last June with no action. Almost three quarters of Senators (74 of them) have sponsored the act, though. The House bill was introduced in February of 2013.

The bill allows for minting up to 100,000 gold coins worth $5 (90 percent gold and 10 percent alloy). It also calls for up to 500,000 silver coins worth $1 (90 percent silver and 10 percent copper). The Treasury could mint up to 750,000 half-dollar coins.

Treasury would design the coins after consulting with NPS, NPF, the Commission on Fine Arts and the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee. The legislation specifies that the federal government may not lose money on the project. People could buy in bulk “at a reasonable discount,” the definition of which is left unspecified in the bill.