US States Challenge CBDC as Legal Tender

Four states – Utah, South Carolina, South Dakota, and Tennessee – have filed bills challenging the status of CBDCs as legal tender. These states have proposed legislation to exclude CBDCs from their respective definitions of money, signaling a growing resistance against the federal government’s push towards digital currencies.

Utah’s Stance on CBDC

In Utah, Representative Tyler Clancy introduced House Bill 164 on January 4, 2024, explicitly excluding CBDCs from the state’s definition of money. The bill defines CBDC as a digital form of money issued by government entities like the U.S. Federal Reserve, foreign governments, central banks, or reserve systems. The proposed Utah bill specifies that a CBDC “is not specie legal tender and is not legal tender in the state,” aligning with the Utah Specie Legal Tender Act and the state’s Uniform Commercial Code (UCC)​​​​.

South Carolina’s Legislative Actions

South Carolina’s approach mirrors that of Tennessee. State Senator Shane Martin filed Senate Bill 861 on November 30, 2023. Like in Tennessee, South Carolina’s UCC defines money as an authorized medium of exchange. The proposed bill S861 would add the term “does not include any central bank digital currency” to that definition​​.

South Dakota’s Involvement

In South Dakota, the Department of Labor and Regulation requested the chair of the Senate Committee on Commerce and Energy to introduce Senate Bill 58 on January 9. This legislation also states that money “does not include any central bank digital currency” in its definition according to the state’s UCC​​.

Tennessee’s Approach

In Tennessee, State Senator Frank Niceley introduced a bill to the Tennessee Senate on January 12, proposing to amend the Tennessee UCC to exclude CBDCs from the definition of money. The bill adds the clause “does not include any central bank digital currency” to the existing legal definition of money, which currently defines it as an authorized medium of exchange​​.

Federal vs. State Jurisdiction

These state-level initiatives raise questions about the supremacy of federal law over state law, particularly in matters concerning monetary policy. Historically, issues like marijuana legalization have shown that state-level resistance can significantly impact federal policies. Opponents of the state bills argue that under the supremacy clause, any federal law would override state law. However, the effectiveness of these state measures against a potential federal CBDC rollout remains uncertain​​.

Globally, various governments are exploring the adoption of CBDCs. These digital currencies, backed and controlled by governments, are seen as a more secure alternative to physical cash. However, concerns about government surveillance and control over consumer spending are prevalent. The digital nature of CBDCs could enable governments to monitor and potentially restrict individual financial transactions, raising privacy and civil liberty issues​​.

Conclusion

The actions of Utah, South Carolina, South Dakota, and Tennessee signify a growing skepticism towards CBDCs at the state level in the United States. These developments reflect broader concerns about privacy, government surveillance, and the balance of power between federal and state jurisdictions. As the conversation around CBDCs evolves, these state-level initiatives could play a pivotal role in shaping the future of digital currency in the U.S.

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