Texas legislators file bills related to cryptocurrency | Dallas Observer


Texas Lawmakers Have Cryptocurrency on Their Minds

Today, one Bitcoin is worth over $28,000.
Today, one Bitcoin is worth over $28,000. Shutterstock
Cryptocurrency is on the minds of several state lawmakers this legislative session. Bills have been filed to aid in crypto mining, to set up a Texas digital currency backed by gold and to officially welcome the Bitcoin economy to the state.

State Rep. Cody Harris, a Republican from Palestine, filed 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 brought about a number of technological breakthroughs.

Bitcoin has become a widely used cryptocurrency over the years, with Texas making up about a quarter of all mining activity in the country. The resolution says that the Chinese government banning the mining of cryptocurrency in 2021 led to what some call the “great mining migration,” which brought many operations to Texas. Other states have tried to ban or temporarily suspend Bitcoin mining operations, but Harris thinks these miners’ activities should be protected by the Texas Constitution.

His HCR 89 asks the Legislature to “express support for protecting individuals 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 at liberty to speak, write or publish his opinions on any subject.”

His resolution also asks that people who mine Bitcoin in Texas never be inhibited by any law or resolution that restricts their ability to do so. These Bitcoin miners would also be welcome to seek any form of energy to help secure their network in Texas, under Harris’ resolution.

Harris also wants people holding Bitcoin to be protected under Section 9, Article 1, of the Texas Constitution, which states that “people shall be secure in their persons, houses, papers and possessions, from all unreasonable seizures or searches.” Harris says this should extend to digital possessions like Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies.

The resolution would be a way of saying that the Bitcoin economy is welcome in Texas

A bill filed by Rep. Oscar Longoria, a La Joya Democrat, would help fuel crypto’s expansion into Texas. Longoria's House Bill 4278 would establish a program to help Bitcoin miners set up shop in orphaned gas wells in the state. These are wells that aren’t in use but haven’t been properly decommissioned.

These wells can spew different pollutants into the air and damage the environment, according to The Washington Post. States are often tasked with capping these wells. But Longoria’s HB 4278 would hand that task over to Bitcoin miners in the program. The selected miners would be responsible for plugging, remediating or reclaiming the orphaned well. They would then set up Bitcoin mining operations at these locations. If the wells are remediated, energy produced by them could be used for Bitcoin mining.

House Rep. Mark Dorazio, a San Antonio Republican, filed House Bill 1493 to set up a state digital currency backed by gold. This bill would set up a trust of purchased gold to back a new digital currency in Texas. The state comptroller or someone appointed by the comptroller will serve as the trustee to manage all of the gold backing the digital currency. This person would be responsible for maintaining enough gold to pay out every owner of the digital currency.

House bills 4278 and 1493, both of which have identical companion bills in the Senate, would take effect in September if enacted. 
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Jacob Vaughn, a former Brookhaven College journalism student, has written for the Observer since 2018, first as clubs editor. More recently, he's been in the news section as a staff writer covering City Hall, the Dallas Police Department and whatever else editors throw his way.
Contact: Jacob Vaughn

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