A Vermont House committee approved a bill Tuesday that would prohibit card networks from fining merchants that set minimum amounts for accepting credit and debit card payments.

The Committee on Commerce and Economic Development voted 9-1 in favor of moving the bill to the House floor, according to the panel's chairman, Rep. William Botzow.

The House is expected to discuss and vote on the bill this week.

If enacted, the bill would make Vermont the first state to let businesses set a minimum dollar amount for card acceptance, which the networks Visa Inc. and MasterCard Inc. currently prohibit. Similar bills are pending in Georgia and at the federal level.

In addition to letting merchants set a minimum as high as $10 for card purchases, the Vermont bill also would let retailers with multiple stores accept cards at one site but not another.

The Vermont Senate passed a version of the bill April 6.

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