Arizona bills aim to make Bitcoin legal tender

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(Kitco News) – Arizona State Senator Wendy Rogers has for the second time introduced a set of bills to the state legislature designed to make Bitcoin (BTC) legal tender in Arizona and allow state agencies to accept BTC as a form of payment.

If Bitcoin is recognized as a legal form of currency in the state, citizens would be able to use it to pay their debts, taxes and other financial obligations in the same manner that they would the U.S. dollar.

In the SB 1235 bill submitted by Rogers, legal tender is defined as “any medium of exchange that is authorized by the United States Constitution or Congress for the payment of debts, public charges, taxes and dues; Specie issued at any time by the U.S. government; any other specie that a court of competent jurisdiction rules by a final, unappealable order to be within the scope of state authority to make legal tender.” The term “specie” specifically refers to coins having precious metal content.

Bitcoin is the only crypto that Rogers is attempting to have made legal tender.

“Bitcoin means the decentralized, peer-to-peer digital currency in which a record of transactions is maintained on the Bitcoin blockchain and new units of currency are generated by the computational solution of mathematical problems and that operates independently of a central bank,” the text of the bill read.

In the second bill, SB 1239, Rogers is looking to amend state statutes to make it so that “A state agency may enter into an agreement with a cryptocurrency issuer to provide a method to accept cryptocurrency as a payment method of fines, civil penalties or other penalties, rent, rates, taxes, fees, charges, revenue, financial obligations and special assessments to pay any amount due to that agency or this state.”

Cryptocurrency was defined as “any form of digital currency in which encryption techniques are used to regulate the generation of units of currency and verify the transfer of monies, operating independently of a central bank, including Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, and Bitcoin Cash.”

Senator Rogers previously introduced a similar amendment in January 2022, but that bill didn’t make it past the second reading as it was being discussed at a time when the crypto market was on the decline and in the process of entering into crypto winter.

If these new amendments are passed, Arizona would become the first state in the U.S. to adopt Bitcoin as an official currency.

States have been eyeing Bitcoin as an acceptable form of payment for a while now as the crypto ecosystem gains adoption. In Sept. 2022, Colorado became the first state to allow Bitcoin to be used to pay taxes, and Utah was also on track to do the same before the crypto market downturn put those plans on hold.

Numerous states – including Texas, New Hampshire, Missouri and Mississippi – have also introduced bills looking to establish regulations around Bitcoin mining in order to capitalize on the financial benefits that the activity presents.

The topic of states adopting Bitcoin and other cryptos as legal tender is sure to face challenges moving forward as the U.S. Constitution specifically prohibits states from creating their own legal tender.

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