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Texas’ gold-backed digital currency project: Law Decoded, April 3–10

The topic of central bank digital currencies is in the crossfire of United States politicians, with figures like Ron DeSantis and Ted Cruz trying to prevent them from existing. But what about a statewide digital currency? The first of its kind, a gold-backed state-based digital currency project has appeared in Texas. 

On the same day, two Texan lawmakers introduced identical bills for creating a state-based digital currency backed by gold. Each unit of the digital currency would represent a particular fraction of a troy ounce of gold held in trust, according to the bills. Once a person purchases a certain amount of digital currency, the comptroller uses that money received to buy an equivalent amount of gold. Although neither of the bills has been passed or presented for a vote, both state that the act will take effect from Sept. 1, 2023.

Meanwhile, another bill has been passed by a senate committee in Texas. The bill would largely remove incentives for miners operating under the state’s regulatory environment. Under the bill, crypto firms participating in a program intended to compensate them for load reductions on Texas’ power grid would be capped for anticipated demand of “less than 10 percent of the total load required by all loads in the program.” Certain crypto mining companies would also not receive a reduction on state taxes for participation in the program starting in September 2023.

Regulators announce $10 million settlement with Robinhood ‘for failing investors’

The California Department of Financial Protection and Innovation said that the company behind cryptocurrency and stock trading platform Robinhood will likely pay more than $10 million in penalties “for operational and technical failures that harmed main street investors.” The settlement resulted from an investigation by the North American Securities Administrators Association in conjunction with securities regulators from Alabama, Colorado, California, Delaware, New Jersey, South Dakota and Texas. The platform suffered a series of system outages in March 2020, causing users to miss out on trades while many of its services were unavailable.

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Coinbase supports new court action to remove Tornado Cash ban

The U.S. Department of the Treasury faces a renewed legal challenge aiming to overturn its decision to sanction the crypto mixer Tornado Cash. The challenge was filed by six individuals backed by the cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase. A motion for a partial summary judgment was filed on April 5 in a Texas district court, with the Coinbase-backed plaintiffs moving for the U.S. Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) to settle the first two counts from its original complaint filed in September 2022. The counts claimed OFAC exceeded its statutory powers under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and violated the free speech clause of the U.S. Constitution’s first amendment.

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Bill protecting Bitcoin mining rights passes in Arkansas

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A bill seeking to regulate Bitcoin (BTC) mining activity in Arkansas has passed in the state’s Congress. It will now move to the governor’s office for approval. Under the legislation, crypto miners will enjoy the same rights as data centers. The bill outlines that Arkansas’ government should not “impose a different requirement for a digital asset mining business that is applicable to any requirement for a data center.” Arkansas’ move follows a similar initiative in the state of Montana, where the Senate passed a bill to protect crypto miners in late March.