Yard Sales – Louisiana Felons

Hard to believe the picture above is a potential crime scene but that’s exactly what it is because Louisiana just outlawed the use of cash.

Recently, the Louisiana legislature passed House Bill 195 which outlaws the use of cash for buying and selling used and second-hand goods anywhere in the state. The bill, ostensibly, was passed to cut down on criminal trafficking of stolen goods, but what does it actually mean and who will be affected?

The original bill was passed in 2011. The updated version of the bill reads like this:

Every person in this state engaged in the business of buying, selling, trading in, or otherwise acquiring or disposing of junk or used or secondhand property, including but not limited to jewelry, silverware, diamonds, precious metals, ferrous materials, catalytic converters, auto hulks, copper, copper wire, copper alloy,  bronze, zinc, aluminum other than in the form of cans, stainless steel, nickel alloys, or brass, whether in the form of bars, cable, ingots, rods, tubing, wire, wire scraps, 10 clamps or connectors, railroad track materials, water utility materials, furniture, pictures, objects of art, clothing, mechanic’s tools, carpenter’s tools, automobile hubcaps, automotive batteries, automotive sound equipment such as radios, CB radios, stereos, speakers, cassettes, compact disc players, and similar automotive audio supplies, used building components, and items defined as cemetery artifacts  is a secondhand dealer.

Anyone, other than a nonprofit entity, who buys, sells, trades in, or otherwise acquires or disposes of junk or used or secondhand property more frequently than once per month from any other person, other than a nonprofit entity, shall be deemed as being engaged in the business of a secondhand dealer.

A secondhand dealer shall not enter into any cash transactions in payment for the purchase of junk or used or secondhand property. Payment shall be made in the form of check, electronic transfers, or money order issued to the seller of the junk or used or secondhand property and made payable to the name and address of the seller.  All payments made by check, electronic transfers, or money order shall be reported separately in the daily reports required by R.S. 37:1866.” 

Bottom line – cash is banned for the purchase of all used and second-hand products.

Additionally anyone who is selling used goods must present full id including name, address, driver’s license and auto license plate information. The buyer can only complete the transactions by paying with a check, money order, or bank transfer. Anyone buying used goods are required by law to report those transactions, complete with the buyers’ personal information, to local law enforcement authorities. For some small businesses, that means that customer lists, a potentially huge proprietary asset, may have to be surrendered to the government with no question or recompense. Period.


So what we’re looking at here is complete government control of all private transactions between law-abiding, innocent parties who may be simply looking to get rid of the junk in their garages. We are looking at church bazaars and community yard sales becoming sites of felonious money laundering. We are looking at state seizure of the proprietary assets of small business people.

Of course, the business entrepreneurs known as pawn brokers are exempt from the legislation. They have the money and political influence to make sure they were excluded. Which means the main avenue for trafficking stolen goods – namely pawn shops – is not even targeted by this anti-crime bill. Small second hand shops, church fundraisers and individual homeowners who run weekend yard sales are in the cross hairs of the crackdown on burglars and thieves trying to fence their hot goods. And who is affected the most by this legislation? Poor people and the middle class, of course.

People on the lower end of the economic scale sometimes scour yard sales for everyday items they can’t afford to purchase new. Whether it be clothing, kitchen utensils, furniture, or old car parts, poor people have the opportunity to purchase affordable everyday necessities at a price they can afford. And it’s not just poor people. Middle class shoppers are always looking for a bargain whether it be no longer wanted guitars, slightly used golf clubs, or outdated electronics.

Who is not effected? Why, the wealthy, of course. Affluent people do not attend yard sales and church bazaars. If wealthy people want golf clubs, they go to the local Callaway shop and buy them. Winter coats are not a problem. If one is needed and Neiman-Marcus is not around the corner, they’ll just order it online no matter the cost. A stroller for their newborn? No problem. Just tell the nanny to pick out and buy what’s best.

Starting to sound familiar?

Let’s sum a couple things up. Who is being hurt the most? The poor and middle class. Who runs the legislature in the state of Louisiana? It comes as no surprise that both the House and Senate in Louisiana are run by the Republicans. And what is the Number One mantra of Republicans everywhere? NO TAXES ON THE RICH.

So how do you raise state revenues without raising taxes? How do you bring extra money into the state coffers without putting an extra burden on the wealthy? Find a way to make the poor and middle class foot the bill. By restricting cash and requiring that all monetary transactions “be on the books,” the state is suddenly in a position to charge taxes on every single transaction – private or commercial – executed in the state of Louisiana.

Problem solved – the rich stay rich and the poor and middle class are subjected to even more of their money being taxed away.

There are many adjectives to describe this situation including draconian, fascist, communist, autocratic, and oppressive. The terms are endless. But the end result is not. Once again, Republicans are doing what they best – protecting the wealth of their sponsors by shifting financial pressures on those who can afford it least, the poor and the remnants of the middle class.

So the next time you buy a used power saw from your neighbor or you pick up that old Bachman Turner Overdrive eight track at the local church yard sale, unless you pay by check, money order or electronic fund transfer,  just remember you might be committing a felony in Louisiana.