Brian Chilson
Sen. Bryan King (file photo)

Six resolutions on crypto mine regulation sponsored by Sen. Bryan King (R-Green Forest) could get new life in the House today, but it looks like they don’t have the votes.

Last week, the resolutions failed to get the two-thirds support necessary to advance out of the House. Most Democrats voted “Present” (same as a “No”) or “No,” amounting to a decisive block on several of King’s measures. This was despite the fact that King’s slate of resolutions represented the most aggressive effort to regulate crypto mines currently proposed in the Legislature. His proposals would use strict regulation and fees to police bad corporate actors with negative externalities — normally an approach that would be popular with Democrats.

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King said yesterday that he was hoping to get the votes expunged and try again. But in order to do so, House rules state that the motion has to come from the prevailing side. So King needs someone flipping from “No” to “Yes” in order to even bring up expungement as a possibility.

Moreover, he needs enough votes to flip to actually get the two-thirds needed to advance the resolution. One of his proposals was two votes short. Two others were 10 votes short, one was 13 votes short, one was 21 votes short and one was 26 votes short. (It’s not clear to me how the expungement motion rule works regarding Democrats who voted “Present,” though they could still vote for expungement and the resolution itself if it hits the floor again.)

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Those vote counts can be an oversimplification. Some who voted “Yes” could switch; on the other hand, if a few resolutions did pass, momentum might carry those that fell shorter on the last vote. However it shakes out, Democrats could be the difference maker on at least a couple.

My guess is that’s the angle King is working. After all, at this point, two other crypto mine regulation bills are already being debated. Some Democrats had objections to discussing non-budget measures in the fiscal session, but what would be the point of holding to that now — and excluding the tougher regulations — now that the issue is already in motion?

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But there’s no indication that any House Democrats are reconsidering their last vote. I asked House Minority Leader Tippi McCullough where things stand and she did not respond. Here’s her take on Democrats’ previous decision not to vote for King’s resolutions.

“It’s up to the House members to bring up expungement,” King said. “There have been numerous attempts to get them to bring up expungement.”

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He wouldn’t comment further on whether he’d made enough progress to try to move forward today. This is his last chance: Today is the deadline for expungement, and time in the session is dwindling. King has argued that lawmakers trying to block his resolutions are now trying to run out the clock — even if he got the votes expunged today, the calendar might not give him enough days to get the bills passed.

King said yesterday that Rep. David Ray (R-Maumelle), who gave half a dozen tendentious speeches on the House floor against King’s bills, had made statements that were inaccurate. This was his focus in pitching the idea of his expungement to House members, he said.

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“The insinuation that I would lie about anything is absurd,” Ray told Conduit News. If nothing else, it certainly seemed like Ray was carrying water for the crypto mining industry in delivering his slew of hyper talking points.

For those who haven’t been following this story, here’s some background: general explainer on the issue of crypto mines in Arkansas; on the negative impacts on rural communities; on the debate on the Senate side, where King’s resolutions passed; on the Democrats declining to vote for the King proposals; on the two crypto bills that remain after King’s were shut down. 

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