House panel doubles down on cryptocurrency regulation

finger pressing computer key with bitcoin, dollar symbol and exchange word. crypto mining concept
The bill died in the Senate last Session, but lawmakers remain undeterred.

House lawmakers remain bullish on cryptocurrency, taking a second stab at undoing how courts say Florida should regulate virtual currencies.

The House unanimously approved a similar bill last Session, though the bill later died in the Senate. On Wednesday, the House Banking and Insurance Subcommittee approved the measure (HB 273), carried by Miami Republican Rep. Vance Aloupis, unanimously for a second time in two years.

Florida has stayed quiet on cryptocurrency, Aloupis told the committee. He expressed the need for the state to set up a regulatory structure as the industry continues to grow.

“I think the question around virtual currency, whether you believe in it or not, it’s a reality,” Aloupis said. “And I think we as a state have a responsibility, not only from a business standpoint, but from a consumer protection standpoint, to make sure that we’re doing everything we can to really be at the forefront of the industry.”

The bill would help clear up some confusion after the 2019 ruling in Florida v. Espinoza, which bucked guidance from the Office of Financial Regulation and found that individuals who own Bitcoin cannot sell it without a license.

The legislation would clarify that only intermediaries, such as a platform that enables cryptocurrency transactions, require a money transmitter license. That would make clear individuals seeking to sell cryptocurrency are not subject to licensure requirements.

When transmitting cryptocurrency, intermediaries wouldn’t also need to hold cash and other assets equivalent to the value of the cryptocurrency.

Additionally, the measure would also better define cryptocurrency to open clearer regulation from state officials down the line.

Office of Insurance and Regulation Commissioner Russell Weigel signaled his support for the bill.

The bill has been a bipartisan effort. Aloupis thanked Wellington Democratic Rep. Matt Willhite, the ranking member on the Banking and Insurance Subcommittee, for his insight into the crypto industry.

“I think bringing it more out of what some consider the darkness, regulating it and controlling it and making sure that it is regulated more so that stigmatism goes away is certainly a benefit to us, and Florida should be on the forefront of doing that,” Willhite said.

Stuart Republican Rep. John Snyder also voiced his appreciation for Aloupis’ measure.

“I think cryptocurrency is going to be a critical part of, certainly, the future, and (I’m) thankful that Florida’s stepping up and leading the way,” Snyder said.

Sanford Republican Sen. Jason Brodeur is the new sponsor for this Session’s Senate Bill (SB 486) after St. Petersburg Republican Sen. Jeff Brandes carried the measure last Session. The bill passed two of its three Senate committees unanimously last Session before dying in the Rules Committee.

The House Banking and Insurance Subcommittee, chaired by Indian Rocks Beach Republican Rep. Nick DiCeglie, is the House bill’s first of three committee stops. Next, it heads to the State Administration and Technology Appropriations Subcommittee.

Renzo Downey

Renzo Downey covers state government for Florida Politics. After graduating from Northwestern University in 2019, Renzo began his reporting career in the Lone Star State, covering state government for the Austin American-Statesman. Shoot Renzo an email at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @RenzoDowney.


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