A bill recently introduced in the Michigan House to ban cashless parking facilities could also help address socio-economic inequities in the state, according to the state representative who introduced it.
HB 6349 would amend the Michigan Consumer Protection Act to make “requiring a parking fee to be paid using a credit card or refusing to accept cash when it is offered as payment for the parking fee” an unlawful practice in the state.
If the bill were to pass, all private or public parking garages and lots throughout the state would have to accept both cash money and credit cards as forms of payment.
According to bill sponsor Rep. Yousef Rabhi, D-Ann Arbor, this issue was brought to his attention after one of his constituent got stuck with just cash on hand in a parking lot that only accepted credit cards as payment.
“Our money is supposed to pay for things, that’s the whole point behind it,” Rabhi said. “You shouldn’t have to have a credit card in order to pay.”
He said his bill focuses on parking to tackle what’s not addressed in SB 59, which was introduced last year by Sen. Sylvia Santana, D-Detroit. That piece of legislation similarly addresses banning credit card-only retail interactions, but didn’t cover parking specifically.
The bigger picture behind these bills, Rabhi said, is to address the socio-economic inequities that may be keeping those who are unable to obtain a credit card from participating in certain transactions.
“It’s a matter for me for access and making sure that we are not discriminating against people who do not have the means to potentially gain access to a credit card,” Rabhi said.
Certain parameters like having pre-established credit, or even a mailing address, are barriers that prevent credit cards from being accessible to everyone.
Steven Guitar, media relations manager for the City of Grand Rapids, said while the city doesn’t have a position on the proposed legislation, it does currently accept cash and credit in all of its off-street facilities and on-street meters and pay stations.
“This policy to provide both payment options is in keeping with our Strategic Plan equity value of leveraging City influence to intentionally remove and prevent barriers created by systemic and institutional injustice,” Guitar said.
The City of Lansing also offers both cash and cashless options when paying for parking, said Scott Bean, city communications director.
“The city is planning to begin a comprehensive parking study to look at parking from a variety of levels, but providing payment options for residents, workers, and visitors is important,” Bean said. “Right now, we aren’t looking at any changes into how people can pay for parking in Lansing.”
Although these specific cities may offer a range of payment options, Rabhi said it’s important to him to deal with this problem for the entire state.
“Once we started looking into it, it was really clear that this needed to be done,” Rabhi said.
The bill was referred to the House committee on Commerce and Tourism on Aug. 17. It would have to pass the House, Senate and be signed by the governor before becoming law.
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