Senator working on legislation that would require all Mississippi businesses to take cash

LEE COUNTY, Miss. — North Mississippi Senator Chad McMahan created quite a stir on Facebook when he said if a Mississippi business does not accept cash as payment, the customer can legally just walk out.

FOX13 found out that's not exactly what the senator meant, but even what he did mean isn't backed up by law.

According to Senator McMahan, he is going to go back and clarify his post about businesses not accepting cash, because it wasn’t perfectly clear.

In a Facebook post shared more than 14,000 times, McMahan, a Republican from Lee County, said if a business won’t accept cash from a customer, the customer can leave without paying for the purchase. He told FOX13′s Tom Dees that’s not what he meant.

“Well, Mr. Dees, what sparked this is I have constituents that are calling me, and they are going and getting different services, and they try to pay with cash and the business is refusing to accept it,” said McMahan. “This is a completely different situation than if someone posted that they only accept electronic payment. That gives the customer the option of whether or not to do business.”

McMahan’s post has gotten hundreds of responses, from people suggesting he is on something, to folks reporting businesses that don’t accept cash.

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Still, he said if a business doesn't accept cash and hasn't posted it, they are liable, and you could just walk out.

“If you as a business owner refused to take that cash that is legal tender and services are rendered, then that debt is paid, unless that you have posted that you take only electronic means,” he said.

Be careful with that. Federal law leaves that up to states, but there is no Mississippi law backing that up. Opinions from law enforcement officers FOX13 talked to vary greatly as to whether you will go to jail.

“So, there’s not a Mississippi code, and I want people to know that I have begun to draft legislation that any business in Mississippi must accept legal tender as payment,” McMahan said.

Sen. McMahan said he did not expect the overwhelming response that his post got.