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No Relief from Crypto-mining?

by Conduit for Action

Many Arkansans are desperate for relief from the threat of crypto-mining businesses being placed in their communities. In communities where a crypto-mining business has been proposed, citizens have packed public meetings in protest.

People are upset with the awful noise from large cooling fans used for the many computers running 24/7, making living near one unbearable. They also are upset with the Chinese ownership of some of the businesses, and with the crypto-mining operations gobbling up local utility services and internet service.

Act 851 of 2023 was passed to block regulation of crypto-mining. The bill introduced as HB1799 was sponsored by Representative Rick McClure of Malvern and Senator Joshua Bryant of Rogers. The bill was titled: “AN ACT TO CREATE THE ARKANSAS DATA CENTERS ACT OF 2023; AND TO CLARIFY THE REGULATION OF THE DIGITAL ASSET MINING BUSINESS.”

The legislation was passed late in the 2023 session of the General Assembly. The last days of a legislative session are always subject to shenanigans because legislation tends to rush through without proper scrutiny.

The legislation began with a long “Legislative Findings and Intent” section.  When you see that happen, it is always a red flag. A long findings and intent section is normally a way to distract legislators from the actual details of the legislation.

Without the details being scrutinized, it is likely many Republican lawmakers were duped into voting for the legislation since Republicans are for eliminating unnecessary regulations.  That is NOT what this was.  Simply stated, this legislation was a ploy to push crypto-mining on Arkansans before they knew what hit them.

Supporters of unbridled crypto-mining are working hard to stop any legislation to overhaul the law. They are trying to at least delay legislation until 2025. Such a delay gives those few the opportunity to make big money by hurriedly building more crypto-mines in Arkansas over the coming months, at the expense of Arkansas communities and individuals.

The first sign of the attempt to delay change until at least next year is the recent approval of a “legislative study” of crypto-mining.  The study is a way to appear like the legislature is moving forward, while in the meantime allowing unbridled crypto-mining. Considering the large number of people who have shown up in protest of crypto-mining over the past year, the time for study should be over.

The time for study should have been before the 2023 legislation was passed.

A study should not be a mechanism to allow crypto-mining to be pushed on communities.

Even if a study was still needed, a moratorium on the construction of crypto-mines should be adopted immediately and should stay in place until after the study is completed and after the legislature passes new legislation in 2025.

The second sign of the attempt to delay change until at least next year is the use of misinformation being given to freshmen legislators on whether the issue may be considered in the Fiscal Session of the General Assembly, which is now underway. Some freshmen are being told that if each chamber of the General Assembly passes a resolution to authorize consideration of legislation to regulate crypto-mining, then that resolution also means approval of the consideration of any other bill a legislator might want to file.

No. Approval of consideration of legislation on a crypto-mining bill only authorizes consideration of that one bill. Each non-appropriation bill requires separate approval before being considered for passage. Here is what the Arkansas Constitution Article 5, Section 5 (c)(2) says:

“(2) A bill other than an appropriation bill may be considered in a fiscal session if two-thirds (⅔) of the members of each house of the General Assembly approve consideration of the bill.”

Notice it says “a bill may be considered if consideration of “the billis approved by a 2/3rds vote of each house. Approving the consideration of a bill on crypto-mining does not open the door for other bills! Each bill must be approved for consideration by a 2/3rds vote of each house.

If the Arkansas General Assembly fails to act during the Fiscal Session, there are two things that are for certain:  1. More Arkansans are going to be victims of crypto-mining; and 2. Some big money influencers are going to make lots of money at the expense of Arkansans.

ICYMI: Things to know about Fiscal Sessions of the AR Legislature

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