DENVER (CBS4) – Some Colorado lawmakers want people to be able to use gold and silver coins as currency.

A bill before the state Senate would legalize the coins. Utah already has a similar measure in place and 12 other states are considering such plans.

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Supporters are concerned about the strength of the U.S. dollar. The sponsors say a debt crisis and more money being printed can lead to the dollar’s decline. They cite other countries, such as Zimbabwe, who has a $100 trillion bill worth about 40 cents in the U.S. They say using gold and silver can help ease some fears.

“Over history just about every country in the world that has had a serious debt crisis has intentionally inflated their currency,” said Sen. Kent Lambert, R-El Paso County.

Lambert says that can easily happen in this country, so he’s sponsoring a bill that would allow people to use gold and silver coins like cash.

“Coins that are minted by the U.S. government should be something that we can use in trade,” he said.

Gold and silver have been traded for 5,000 years, but after World War I they were banned as currency in the U.S.

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Gold dealer Charlie Rockney says he sees more and more people acquiring precious metals as investments in case the value of the U.S. dollar falls.

“The value of their currency has dropped so much. It can happen here. That’s why they’re looking at gold and silver that will hold its value. It’s always been traded,” Rockney said.

To use gold and silver coins today they have to be converted to paper dollars. So a $20 gold coin in the 1800s is still legally worth $20, even though its real value may be a lot more.

On Friday gold was trading at more than $1,700 an ounce.

Lambert admits if the bill passes people won’t be walking around with bags of gold coins, but it’s an alternative for them to feel more secure with their money.

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The bill has already cleared the Senate Finance Committee and needs a vote from the full chamber.