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Cryptocurrency might be ‘battle royale’ on veto day

FILE – An advertisement of Bitcoin, one of the cryptocurrencies, is displayed on a building in Hong Kong, on Nov. 18, 2021. Crypto exchange Bittrex was fined $24 million by U.S. authorities on Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2022, for helping clients evade U.S. sanctions in places such as Syria, Iran and Crimea. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung, File)

PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — A fight over the governor’s effort to stop a piece of nationally endorsed legislation from becoming law in South Dakota could be the main event Monday when the Legislature returns for the final work of its 2023 session.

HB-1193 is one of four vetoes from Governor Kristi Noem that lawmakers will consider that morning. It’s the only one that made it through both chambers with more than the two-thirds majorities needed for a veto override.

The other three are HB-1209 that would allow hemp manufacturers to have THC content as high as 5% during part of the processing; SB-108 that would let underage students sip alcohol as part of school courses; and SB-129 that would give educators the same level of legal protections as law enforcement and first responders against violent crimes.

Governor Kristi Noem has labeled 1193 “an attack on economic freedom.” In a letter to the Legislature, she said the legislation would “expressly” exclude cryptocurrencies from the definition of money.

The bill came from several years of work by the national Uniform Law Commission. South Dakota Bankers Association president Karl Adam has strongly defended it, saying that the governor and those legislators who voted against it don’t understand that it would allow banks to treat cryptocurrencies as controllable electronic records and accept them as collateral.

“If we don’t adopt the UCC amendments in our state, South Dakota could be set back in comparison to other states seeking to attract new businesses,” Adam wrote in a blog post on Wednesday. “As companies find new ways to create and unlock value in digital assets, they will likely gravitate to states that pass these amendments, which give them more legal and financial certainty. We’ve already seen this happen. Just this week, North Dakota has adopted the UCC amendments.”

But a group of legislators known as the South Dakota Freedom Caucus praised the veto and issued a seven-page rebuttal on Thursday. “We’re not backing down,” Republican Rep. Aaron Aylward said in a statement, “we’re taking a stand to support our governor and her veto of this dangerous legislation.”

The House of Representatives is scheduled to gavel in Monday at 9 a.m. and will be the first to consider 1193 and 1209. The Senate comes in at 9 a.m. as well and will take up 108 and 129.

Should either chamber muster enough votes for an override — 47 in the House and 24 in the Senate — that specific bill would next move to the other chamber for a vote there.

The governor was successful in her first veto of the session, stopping HB-1109 that sought to let municipalities double their lodging-room tax to $4 or charge up to 4%.

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