In 2011, Utah became the first state in the country to legalize gold and silver coins as currency. Lawmakers in Minnesota, North Carolina, Idaho, South Carolina, Colorado and other states have debated similar laws in recent years.Many investors have invested their money in precious metals in recent years as a hedge against the declining value of the dollar. When the value of the dollar declines, gold prices rise. Gold rose $12, nearly 1 percent, to $1,604.60 per ounce on Monday with news of Europe's bailout plan for cash-strapped Cyprus. Silver inched slightly higher, up 2.3 cents to $28.874 per ounce. The dollar was up against the euro, the currency used by 17 European countries, as well as the Japanese yen and the Canadian dollar in February. Proponents of the switch to gold and silver argue paper money is too vulnerable to government manipulations. When central banks boost the amount of currency in circulation to drive down interest rates, the value of that currency relative to others can decline. "It's actually strange to me that we don't have this already," said Republican Rep. David Livingston, of Peoria. Gold-backed money fell out of favor during World War I because the U.S. and many other countries needed to print more cash to pay for the war. In 1971, President Richard Nixon formally abandoned the gold standard. ___ Cristina Silva can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/cristymsilva .