Despite pledges by the Democrat-controlled State Senate to be a “brick wall” against proposals from the GOP-led House of Delegates and Governor’s Office, in a rare show of bipartisanship the Senate last week passed a cryptocurrency bill, 39-0.
Del. Chris Head (R-Roanoke/Botetourt) sponsored the first-in-the-nation House Bill (HB) 263. According to Fox Business, HB 263 “permits banks in the Commonwealth to provide virtual currency custody services so long as the bank has adequate protocols in place to effectively manage the associated risks.” The House of Delegates first passed it, 98-0, on February 2. Having cleared both the House of Delegates and Senate, it now goes to Gov. Youngkin’s desk for a signature to become state law. In the case of a veto, it seems the General Assembly could easily override it with a two-thirds vote.
Head told Fox News Digital, “I came up with the idea for HB 263 last summer after reading about how Texas was addressing the issue of cryptocurrency and who is permitted to hold the keys to one’s cryptocurrency purse,” Head said. “Texas decided to tackle this topic of cryptocurrency custodian services through its regulatory process. I discovered that no state at that time, nor to date, has addressed cryptocurrency custodian services legislatively.”
“By codifying the ability for state-chartered banks to become custodians of cryptocurrency, this will make Virginia the first in the country to provide this ability to banks through legislation, (…) Functionally, the bill allows state-chartered banks in Virginia to hold the keys to one’s cryptocurrency purse, similar to how individuals use safety deposit boxes at banks. Ultimately, this will put Virginia at a significant advantage regionally and nationwide.”
“Cryptocurrency is something to which everyone should pay attention,” the delegate added. “This is an emerging economic asset that is growing in popularity, and that has significant potential for economic development in areas that embrace it.”
“As a small business owner, I’m always looking for the potential in policies to create opportunities for jobs, business development, and economic success. Cryptocurrency has the potential to do just that,” Head added.
As is true in our country with so many opinions, some cryptocurrency fans voiced skepticism. One comment on the foxbusiness.com article stated: “I think this is fantastic idea – if you want your crypto in a regulated bank. Kind of defeats the entire purpose of the deregulated finance ecosystem, which is why it probably got unanimous support.” Another added: “I run a full Bitcoin node and participate in the Lightning Network. I am my own bank.”
The Virginia General Assembly session is scheduled to end this week.