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The E-Sylum:  Volume 11, Number 4, January 27, 2008, Article 24

NUMISMATIC NEWS ARTICLE PROFILES REP. JOSE SERRANO

[In a recent article Numismatic News Editor Dave Harper
profiles Rep. Jose Serrano, D-N.Y., the most senior member
of Congress of Puerto Rican descent.  Serrano was instrumental
in passing the bill expanding the 50 states quarter program
to include the District of Columbia and the five insular
territories: American Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Guam,
Commonwealth of Northern Marianas Islands and the Commonwealth
of Puerto Rico.  Serrano also had a hand in the congressional
gold medal awarded to singer Frank Sinatra. The article is
available on the Numismaster web site - some excerpts are
below.  -Editor]

State quarters are now expanded from 50 states to include
the District of Columbia and the five insular territories:
American Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Guam, Commonwealth
of Northern Marianas Islands and the Commonwealth of Puerto
Rico. The nine-year-old program (2008 makes what would have
been its 10th and final year) has a new lease on life.

Year 11 was signed into law by President George W. Bush on
Dec. 26, 2007, while aboard Air Force One en route to
Crawford, Texas. The measure was part of the omnibus spending
legislation that tied Congress up in knots since Thanksgiving.
The territorial quarter measure, though important to some
special interest groups, was incidental.

Section 622 of the 1,235-page bill is the operative one for
collectors. It contains a mere 756 words in the context of
a bill that contains some 279,154 words in all. But the words
are those that residents of Washington, D.C., have sought to
hear for 10 long years. Surprisingly, the leader to the
promised land was not Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C.,
a longtime advocate - but a New York congressman, Rep. Jose
Serrano, D-N.Y.

How the coin provision remained in, together with the restoration
of "In God We Trust" to the obverse of the Presidential dollars
- removed from the rim of the coin - may have as much to do
with the resignation of Sen. Trent Lott, R-Miss., on Dec. 18
as anything else.

Some sources suggest that Lott has been the anonymous hold
behind the expansion of the state quarter program - to make
sure that the Marianas labor and immigration policies did not
change. There are almost a thousand Google references to Lott
and the Marianas, a 14-island chain in the Pacific.

This marked the sixth time the coin proposal had been before
Congress for a vote, but the first time that it passed both
houses. It has passed the House in each Congress, staring
with the 106th in 2000. It never made headway in the Senate.

"When the District and the four insular areas were inadvertently
left out of the 50-State Commemoration Coin Program Act, we did
not see any reason to hold everyone else up. We thought that
the act should proceed so that the 10-year period for
incorporating states could go forward because we had the
assurance of the gentleman from Delaware (Mr. Castle) that
D.C. and the insular areas would indeed be included. I knew
he would keep his word. There was never any doubt about that."

To read the complete article, see:
Full Story

  Wayne Homren, Editor

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To submit items for publication in The E-Sylum, write to the Editor 
at this address: whomren@coinlibrary.com

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