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Citizens Commemorative Coin Advisory Committee 1999 Annual Report

It is our privilege to present the sixth annual report of the Citizens Commemorative Coin Advisory Committee (CCCAC). Public Law 102-390 which established the CCCAC mandates that the CCCAC shall:

    "(A) designate annually the events, persons, or places that the Advisory Committee recommends be commemorated by the issuance of commemorative coins in each of the 5 calendar years succeeding the year in which such designation is made;

    (B) make recommendation with respect to the mintage level for any commemorative coin recommended under subparagraph (A); and

    (C)submit a report to the Congress containing a description of the events, persons, or places which the Committee recommends be commemorated by a coin, the mintage level recommended for any such commemorative coin, and the Committee’s reasons for such recommendation."

The Committee continues to meet these mandates, committed to its mission of assisting Congress to ensure that American coinage reflects the diversity and greatness of our Nation.

During 1999, the CCCAC met twice, the first time in August at the American Numismatics Association Conference in Chicago, and the second time in November at U.S. Mint Headquarters. During the November meeting of the CCCAC, Senator Mary Landrieu’s staff presented their plan for legislation which would authorize a commemorative coin honoring Martin Luther King, Jr..

Concerns

In the last days of the first session of the 106th Congress, to our dismay, three commemorative coin programs were passed into law, including the Capitol Visitor Center Commemorative Coin program. Enactment of the Capitol Visitor Center program marks the fifth time in 11 years that the Congress has authorized commemorative coin programs benefiting the Capitol, the Congress, or affiliated institutions, such as the United States Botanic Gardens and the Library of Congress.

By any reasonable accounting, this is excessive. Three of these programs have already tapped collectors for $93 million in commemorative coin sales and raised $23.3 million in surcharges. The Capitol Visitor Center program, along with the Library of Congress program which launches in April 2000, adds another 1,750,000 coins to the total and upto $29.75 million dollars in surcharges. These surcharges are viewed by collectors as a tax on their hobby, and in this case, a tax to benefit the Congress, the Capitol, and affiliated institutions.

Moreover, in the enactment of the Capitol Visitor Center program, the Congress circumvented the CCCAC and violated its own rules for consideration of commemorative coin legislation. The Capitol Visitor Center program was never submitted for consideration by this Committee as intended by Congress in P.L. 102-390, in which created the CCCAC, and P.L. 104-208, which imposed strict requirements on commemorative coin legislation to avoid abuses of the numismatic hobby. Neither did the Capitol Visitor Center legislation receive the required 290 cosponsors prior to consideration by the House of Representatives, as specified in the rules of the House Banking and Financial Services Subcommittee on Domestic and International Monetary Policy.

The Capitol Visitor Center program is also objectionable because it is a three-coin program involving gold, silver, and base metal coins. This is the first three-coin program approved by Congress since the 1995 – 1996 Atlanta Olympic program. The total authorized mintage of the Capitol Visitor Center program is also the highest since the Atlanta Olympic program. The size and scope of the Atlanta program was a great burden on the numismatic hobby and drew strong objections from collectors. This Committee believes the Capitol Visitor Center program is also likely to be subject to significant criticism in the hobby as its launch date approaches.

Enactment of the Capitol Visitor Center program endangers the progress we have made since passage of the Commemorative Coin Reform Act of 1996 in recovering from the excesses of the previous 15 years. It also endangers the viability of future commemorative programs because collectors are likely to lose confidence in the Congress’ commitment to the restraints imposed in the 1996 Act. Finally, by circumventing the CCCAC, the program undermines six years of efforts to build the credibility of the Committee both on the Hill and in the numismatic community.

Recommendations

We recommend adoption of the following commemorative coin programs during the second session of Congress:

2001 Buffalo Commemorative Coin – This coin would commemorate both the rich Native American history and culture, and would also commemorate what is regarded as one of the most popular coins the U.S. Mint ever produced. This legislation has been introduced in the Senate by Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell, and the surcharges would provide funding for the National Museum of the American Indian. The Committee strongly recommends that the current legislation be amended to a one-year silver dollar program with a total mintage of 500,000 and a surcharge of $10 per coin.
 
2002 Salt Lake City Olympics – The Committee recommends issuance of a commemorative coin honoring the 2002 Winter Olympic Games, with the authorization to produce coins and commence sales beginning no later than October 1, 2001, and issuance of the coin to begin on January 1, 2002. The Committee recommends issuance of 400,000 $1 silver coins bearing a $10 surcharge per coin and 80,000 $5 gold coins bearing a $35 surcharge per coin.
 
2003 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. – The Committee recommends issuance of a commemorative coin honoring the accomplishments and life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The Committee recommends the issuance of 500,000 $1 silver coins with a $10 surcharge per coin. The Committee recommends the surcharges generated by the sales of these coins be used for the purposes of acquiring the personal papers of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the preservation of these papers, and the creation of wide public access to these documents and others related to the Civil Rights Movement.

The following coin programs have already been approved, and thus the limit of two programs per year set by the Commemorative Coin Reform Act of 1996 has been reached for the years 2000 and 2004:

    2000 – Leif Ericsson

    2000 -The Library of Congress

    2001 – Capitol Visitor’s Center

    2002 – United States Military Academy

    2003 – First Flight

    2004 – Thomas Alva Edison

    2004 – Lewis and Clark

Need for Copyright Protection

As in past years, we strongly urge Congress to move legislation for copyright protection for

U.S. Mint products. The private sector abuses of U.S. Mint coin designs have increased significantly since the launch of 50 State Quarters Program and the release of the Golden Dollar design. This is creating a great deal of consumer confusion, and the Committee believes that these abuses are intended to make customers believe they are purchasing an official U.S. Mint product. The Committee believes that this is the most important consumer protection issue facing the collectibles industry today. This committee brought this issue to the Congress two years ago seeking urgent action to avoid the situation which exists today. This recommendation has not been acted upon to date, and we continue to believe that such protection is crucial to protecting the interests of coin collectors, the general public, and the American taxpayer.

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Next Section: Commemoritive Coin Advisory Commitee (CCCAC) 1998 Annual Report

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