County council adopts ordinance requiring retail businesses in unincorporated areas to accept cash

County Councilmember Nate Nehring

The Snohomish County Council has approved an ordinance requiring retail businesses in unincorporated Snohomish County to accept cash for payment of retail transactions. Ordinance 23-128 was introduced by Councilmember Nate Nehring after a constituent reached out with concerns about the trend toward exclusively digital transactions.

“Cash is legal tender in the United States,” said Nehring. “Ensuring that residents are able to continue to conduct business using cash is important, particularly for those who tend to use cash more often, such as minors, individuals without access to credit, and senior citizens.”

The ordinance, passed unanimously Wednesday, includes certain exemptions for businesses based on feedback received from local chambers of commerce. Specifically, businesses may apply for an exemption if there has been a history of theft or attempted theft at their establishment, they only have one retail employee on the premises, the establishment is located in a residence, or the location is more than fifteen miles from a banking institution.

There is also a provision that the requirement can be waived in the case of a pandemic-related declared emergency.

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