The last year has been unkind to bitcoin, with its price dropping nearly 60% from its peak. That’s dampened a lot of the hype around bitcoin, but not all of it. There are still many believers in the cryptocurrency’s future, with Arizona state Sen. Wendy Rogers among them.
Rogers, a pro-Donald Trump Republican elected to Arizona’s senate in 2020, on Tuesday submitted a bill that would make bitcoin legal tender in the state. Following in the footsteps of El Salvador, whose polarizing president made bitcoin legal tender in 2021, the bill, if passed, would afford bitcoin the same legal status as the US dollar. It could be used to pay debts, taxes and as a commercial medium of exchange.
The bills are co-sponsored by Rogers’ state senate Repubican colleagues Jeff Weninger and J.D. Mesnard. Barring support from state Democrats, the bills could pass with uniform backing from the state’s Republican senators and representatives. Republicans hold 16 of Arizona’s 30 state senate seats and 31 of its 60 House of Representative spots.
A similar bill introduced by Rogers in 2022 was quickly shot down, however. Rogers has also proposed allowing voters in 2024 decide whether cryptocurrency should be tax exempt in the state.
“Centralized digital money controlled by the central bankers is slavery,” Rogers tweeted in April, hearkening back to bitcoin’s Libertarian roots. “Decentralized Bitcoin is freedom.”
Most famous for its adoption of bitcoin as legal tender is El Salvador. Led by President Nayib Bukele, the country has spent an estimated $107 million buying bitcoin, with those holdings now worth about half that amount. The beleaguered country’s government spent another estimated $268 million setting up digital infrastructure for bitcoin, including a $30 incentive for everyone who signed up for its official bitcoin wallet, Chivo.
Critics say the adoption of bitcoin was a cost that the heavily indebted country couldn’t afford. Proponents say bitcoin is a more efficient means for remittances and that the country’s sharp post-COVID tourism recovery can be chalked up at least partially to crypto tourism.
Arizona isn’t alone in grappling with the regulation of cryptocurrency. Last week, lawmakers in Missouri and Mississippi sought to craft law protecting citizens’ rights to mine bitcoin, an electricity-guzzling process that was banned in New York last year.