State legislators in Texas have overwhelming voted to add a provision to the state’s Bill of Rights which would protect an individual's right to ‘own, hold and use digital currencies’ as a medium of exchange. The proposal will now go to the Texas Senate and, if approved, which appears likely, a vote of the people in November.
Bill HJR 146 was introduced by State Representative Giovani Capriglione. In addition to protecting the use of digital currency as a means of exchange, the bill further provides that ‘no government shall prohibit or hinder the ownership or holding of any form or quantity of money or other currency.’ The bill would also protect the use of bullion and other private scrip as a medium of exchange.
The Texas Bill of Rights shares similar clauses with the US Bill of Rights, covering items concerning freedom of speech, religion and press. The proposed amendment aligns with Capriglione’s vision that individuals should have an inviolable right to utilise a medium of exchange mutually agreed upon, including digital currencies.
Tom Glass, the founder of Texas Constitutional Enforcement Group commented:
[The] Objective…is to make a case in the federal judiciary to invoke the 9th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution which says that there are other natural rights besides those in the first 8 amendments.
The group has argued that recognising digital currencies under the Texas Bill of Rights is essential for the protection of individuals' financial privacy, particularly in light of the erosion of the US dollar which has seen individuals turn to alternative currencies to protect their wealth. The group emphasised their support for digital currencies in warning that sole reliance on global financial institutions risks 'devaluation and confiscation' of private assets.
The proposed amendment received approval in the Texas State legislature by a vote of 139-2. The proposal has also received praise from opponents of Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs).
Texas Senator Ted Cruz has introduced federal legislation seeking to prohibit the US Federal Reserve from issuing a CBDC on the basis that it could be used as a surveillance tool. The Florida Governor and Republican presidential candidate, Ron De Santis, has signed a bill which seeks to restrict the acceptance of CBDCs in Florida. Other Republican leaning States now look likely to follow Florida's lead. Meanwhile, the US Government is continuing to explore the development of a CBDC partially as a means of maintaining the primary of the US dollar in global commerce and trade.
While the Texas proposal awaits a Senate vote and finally a vote of the people, if adopted, constitutional protection could support the further adoption of digital currencies in Texas and beyond. The bill may also set the scene for further political battles over the future of money and CBDCs through the US political process.