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Relating to debit card or stored value card surcharges; providing a civil penalty.
No significant fiscal implication to the State is anticipated.
Currently merchants are prohibited from imposing a surcharge on customers who pay with a debit card, as opposed to a credit card, cash, or check. HB 3442 would modify the Finance Code (section 59.403) by instituting a civil penalty of $1,000 on those who knowingly level such a surcharge. The bill also adds a section to the code in which "surcharge" is defined.
We believe that merchants should be permitted to run their businesses however they wish and this includes affording them the ability to levy surcharges on those using debit cards. Generally this practice is undertaken to recoup losses incurred as a result of processing such cards, not out of any sort of malicious intent.
Banning businesses from recouping the debit card transaction processing fees will simply result in businesses passing the costs on to all customers by raising prices for everyone. As a result, the cost of the debit card fees would be paid by everyone, including those who pay cash. These types of unintended consequences are another reason why government should not get involved in regulating the day to day activities of private enterprise.
If enacted, HB 3442 would strengthen a law which is already in opposition to the principle of free markets. We oppose HB 3442.