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Arkansas lawmakers advance crypto mining resolutions


Arkansas lawmakers advance crypto mining resolutions

Apr 16, 2024 | 7:52 pm ET
By Antoinette Grajeda
Arkansas lawmakers advance crypto mining resolutions
Republican Sen. Bryan King of Green Forest discusses cryptocurrency mining with Arkansas lawmakers on April 16, 2024. (Antoinette Grajeda/Arkansas Advocate)

A legislative panel on Tuesday authorized the Arkansas House to consider allowing the introduction of bills to regulate cryptocurrency mining during the fiscal session. 

The eight resolutions approved by the House Select Committee on Rules aim to amend the Arkansas Data Centers Act of 2023, which passed with bipartisan support and limited the state’s and local governments’ ability to regulate crypto mining operations. 

Crypto mines, large groups of computers that harvest digital currency, are often located in rural areas because they take up a lot of space. They also require significant energy to operate and water to keep computers cool.

Republican Sen. Bryan King of Green Forest, who’s leading the effort to amend the law in the Senate, said Tuesday that it’s not his intention to ban crypto mines. Rather King said he wants to have a conversation and consider taking action in response to concerns from Arkansas residents.

“Small towns and communities don’t have the resources to fight billion dollar companies in federal court,” King said. “…I am just for a fair discussion and to allow everybody to have a debate on this issue where it don’t cost us, where we don’t have to come back in special session and spend more money before next [year’s legislative session].”

King’s reference to a special session alluded to limitations lawmakers have on considering non-budget bills during the current fiscal session. Legislation unrelated to the state budget can be introduced if both the House and Senate pass resolutions allowing it with a two-thirds majority vote. This requires a minimum of 24 Senate votes and 67 House votes. 

There are crypto mines in DeWitt and near Greenbrier, and officials have raised concerns over foreign ownership and whether the mines pose a national security risk. Additionally, Greenbrier-area residents have filed a lawsuit over the large amount of noise from a crypto mine. 

DeWitt resident Jackie Johnson voiced her concerns about the potential impact of mining on her community at Tuesday’s meeting and thanked lawmakers for opening up the conversation.

“It’s just a godsend that y’all are bringing this up because I know the damage that it’s fixing to do to communities all over this wonderful, wonderful state,” Johnson said. 

Arkansas Senate approves seven potential bills to regulate cryptocurrency mines

King spoke on behalf of Rep. Josh Miller, R-Heber Springs, who sponsored six House resolutions Tuesday. Rep. Jon Eubanks, R-Paris, was the sole no vote for five of Miller’s six proposals.

Eubanks did support House Resolution 1015 from Miller, which would prohibit certain foreign nationals from owning or investing in a digital asset mining business in Arkansas, among other things. 

HR 1015 received unanimous approval from the committee, as did a resolution sponsored by Rep. Rick McClure, R-Malvern, and one backed by Rep. Jeremiah Moore, R-Clarendon.

Senate President Pro Tempore Bart Hester, R-Cave Springs, said Tuesday that the House will take up the resolutions on Wednesday. The Senate will recess and if the House passes any resolutions, Hester said he’ll call senators back into session to read the legislation across the desk, which would allow committees to take up the bills Thursday.

The Arkansas Senate cleared the way for lawmakers to take up crypto-related legislation when it approved resolutions last Thursday and on Monday.

The Senate and House are scheduled to convene at 1 p.m. Wednesday.