Cryptocurrency is on the minds of several state lawmakers this legislative session. Bills have been filed to aid in cryptocurrency mining, to create a gold-backed Texas digital currency, and to officially welcome the Bitcoin economy to the state.
State Representative Cody Harris, a Palestinian Republican, introduced a resolution in the legislature on Monday seeking to protect Texans’ access to Bitcoin. Harris’ House Concurrent Resolution 89 describes Bitcoin as a secure network of peer-to-peer transactions that has led to a number of technological breakthroughs.
Bitcoin has become a widely used cryptocurrency over the years, with Texas accounting for about a quarter of all mining activity in the country. The resolution says the Chinese government’s ban on cryptocurrency mining in 2021 has led to what some are calling the “Great Mining Migration,” which has brought many operations to Texas. Other states have tried to ban or temporarily suspend Bitcoin mining operations, but Harris thinks the activities of these miners should be protected by the Texas Constitution.
Its HCR 89 asks the legislature to “express support for the protection of persons who code or develop on the Bitcoin network in accordance with Section 8, Article 1, of the Texas Constitution.” This section of the state constitution says “Every person shall be free to speak, write or publish their opinions on any subject”.
Its resolution also calls for people who mine Bitcoin in Texas to never be inhibited by any law or resolution that limits their ability to do so. These Bitcoin miners would also be urged to seek any form of energy to secure their network in Texas, according to the Harris resolution.
Harris also wants individuals who hold Bitcoin to be protected under Section 9, Article 1, of the Texas Constitution, which states that “individuals shall be secure in their persons, homes, records, and property, from all seizure or unreasonable searches”. Harris says this should extend to digital assets like Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies.
The resolution would be a way of saying that the Bitcoin economy is welcome in Texas
A bill introduced by Rep. Oscar Longoria, a Democrat from La Joya, would help fuel the expansion of cryptocurrencies in Texas. Longoria House Bill 4278 would institute a program to help Bitcoin miners set up shop in orphaned gas wells in the state. These are wells that are not in use but have not been properly decommissioned.
These wells can emit various pollutants into the air and harm the environment, according to The Washington Post. States are often tasked with plugging these wells. But Longoria’s HB 4278 would outsource this task to Bitcoin miners in the program. Selected miners would be responsible for plugging, repairing or reclaiming the orphaned shaft. They would then set up Bitcoin mining operations in these places. If the wells are cleaned up, the energy they produce could be used for mining Bitcoin.
House Representative Mark Dorazio, a San Antonio Republican, introduced House Bill 1493 to establish a gold-backed state digital currency. This bill would create a trust of gold purchased to back a new digital currency in Texas. The state comptroller or someone appointed by the comptroller will act as a trustee to manage all of the gold that backs the digital currency. This person would be responsible for maintaining enough gold to pay each owner of the digital currency.
House bills 4278 and 1493, both with identical bills in the Senate, would go into effect in September if passed.