Evanston ‘s City Council is scheduled to vote Monday on whether to adopt an ordinance that would force all retail merchants in the city to accept payments in cash.
Such measures, promoted by their progressive advocates as a protection for the unbanked, are supported by the ATM Industry Association, a cash-machine trade group that has a vested interest in promoting the use of cash by consumers.
As of February this year, the ATMIA said 12 states had adopted such bans and 12 had rejected them, while such bans had been proposed in nine other states, including Illinois.
Since then, SB 1979, which would have created a cashless ban in Illinois, was approved by the state Senate on a 40-16 vote, but was referred back to the House Rules Committee at the end of the spring legislative session. (A similar measure, HB 5255, died at the end of the 2020 legislative session.)
SB 1979 would have carved out an exception to the cash ban for restaurants, gas stations and grocery stores from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. in an effort to protect against robbery.
That’s an exception that is not included in the proposed Evanston ordinance.
The proposed state law would have imposed penalties starting with a $50 fine for a first offense. The Evanston ordinance, proposed by Ald. Devon Reid (8th), begins its penalties with a $1,000 fine for a first offense.
In a city staff survey, of the 33 local businesses that responded, seven said they don’t accept cash and the 26 others said they do. None of those that do accept cash now said they were planning to switch to a cashless model in the future.
Business owners who don’t accept cash say they feel safer — that it reduces the threat of being robbed at the store or being assaulted while taking cash to the bank.