Texas legislative session winds down with crypto bills still in limbo

Regulation

The 88th legislative session for the government of the state of Texas will end on May 29 without any resolution to certain bills affecting aspects of the digital asset space.

According to Texas legislative records, lawmakers moved Senate Bill 1751 to the Committee on State Affairs on April 24 after passage in the state senate. The legislation aims to amend sections of Texas’ utilities and tax code to add restrictions for crypto mining firms, prompting criticism from digital asset advocates. At the time of publication, there was no movement on S.B. 1751, making it unlikely that lawmakers will be able to address the bill until its next regular session starting in January 2025 — the Legislature meets every other year.

Under the proposed legislation, crypto mining firms participating in a program intended to compensate them for load reductions on Texas’ power grid would have their incentives capped at 10%. Without movement on the bill, crypto companies will likely be able to continue to reap certain benefits from operating in Texas.

Though S.B. 1751 may be in limbo, two other crypto-related bills have already been passed by both chambers of the Texas Legislature and await approval or veto from Gov. Greg Abbott. In Texas, bills that make it through the Legislature and to Abbott’s desk automatically become law unless the governor actively vetoes them.

On May 15, Texas House Bill 1666 passed the state Senate. The legislation, a proof-of-reserves bill, aimed to require exchanges to maintain reserves “in an amount sufficient to fulfill all obligations to customers” and submit reports to the Texas Department of Banking regarding their liabilities. Lawmakers also passed House Bill 591 on May 10 — legislation allowing Bitcoin (BTC) miners in Texas to use flare gas emissions as part of efforts to power their operations.

Both bills await Abbott’s tacit or affirmative approval or veto. Under Texas law, Abbott normally has a 10-day window to issue a veto on legislation he opposes, but this window increases to 20 days for bills sent to his desk within 10 days of the regular session ending. This suggests that H.B. 591 may already be de facto state law while Abbott has until mid-June to take action on H.B. 1666. 

The Texas governor has previously referred to himself as a “crypto law proposal supporter” but has not suggested what he will do regarding the recent legislation. The Memorial Day holiday may also lengthen the time allowed, giving Abbott an opportunity to affirmatively sign the two bills into law.

Related: Texas lawmakers propose a gold-backed state digital currency

Many mining firms operate in Texas, leading to criticism at the federal level from anti-crypto lawmakers over concerns about energy usage and the environment. Lawmakers in the state have also moved forward on legislation to amend the Texas Bill of Rights to enshrine residents’ right to possess, retain and utilize digital currencies. The bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Business and Commerce on May 11.

Magazine: Crypto regulation: Does SEC Chair Gary Gensler have the final say?

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