House panel votes to deregulate crypto trading

finger pressing computer key with bitcoin, dollar symbol and exchange word. crypto mining concept
The bill would help clear confusion after a recent court ruling negated OFR's crypto guidance.

The value of Bitcoin might be dropping right now, but some lawmakers want Florida to buy the dip.

A measure to change how the Sunshine State should regulate virtual currencies (HB 273) — and undo a prior court decision — is ready for the House floor. The House Commerce Committee voted unanimously in favor of the measure on Wednesday, prepping the bill to be considered by the full chamber.

The House unanimously approved a similar bill last Session, though the bill later died in the Senate. Miami Republican Rep. Vance Aloupis doubled down by filing the bill again, and the proposal has received unanimous support so far.

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 (OFR) and found that individuals who own Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies cannot sell them without a license.

“Whether you believe in virtual currency and you’re an at-home bit miner — like Rep. (Randy) Maggard — or you think it is a fad, that’s really an irrelevant conversation because (in) reality is it is an industry, and currently under Florida Statute, there’s very little to be said about how this industry should be regulated,” Aloupis said.

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

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

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

OFR Commissioner Russell Weigel signaled his support for the bill, which would take effect in 2023. Weigel’s office has received more than 70 comments on how the industry should be regulated, Aloupis said.

Sanford Republican Sen. Jason Brodeur is the new sponsor for this Session’s Senate Bill (SB 486). 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.

Brodeur’s bill passed its first of three committees last week. Next it’s headed to the Senate Agriculture, Environment, and General Government 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.

One comment

  • PeterH

    January 19, 2022 at 12:07 pm

    Let’s make the ‘FREEDUMB STATE OF FLORIDA’ ripe for an unregulated grifting mechanism.

Comments are closed.


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