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Dorothy Hukill looking at ‘cryptocurrency’ bill next year

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State Sen. Dorothy Hukill says she’s aiming to file legislation next year covering the use of “cryptocurrencies” such as bitcoin.

“We’ve been learning a lot about it,” the Port Orange Republican said Wednesday. “We don’t really have any way to regulate it in Florida.”

Cryptocurrency is online money, “decentralized digital currency beyond the reach of banks and governments,” as Fortune magazine recently defined it.

Its use is growing, albeit gradually: Former Libertarian candidate for attorney general Bill Wohlsifer accepts bitcoin as payment at his Tallahassee law practice, for instance.

But Hukill mentioned a Miami-Dade circuit court ruling that held bitcoin isn’t money as now contemplated by state law.

“I think it’s something we need to get ahead of,” she said. “We need to look at what the role of government should be, with an emphasis on consumer protections.”

Hukill, an attorney and chair of the Senate’s Finance and Tax Committee, has been interested in law and technology issues.

She sponsored a measure that became law in 2014 prohibiting Florida public schools from collecting or using student “biometric data” — fingerprints, handprints, and retinal scans — under an education data privacy measure.

This year, Hukill’s proposal on “digital assets” also became law. It allows someone to designate another to have access and control of financial accounts, social media, and most everything else one has online.

When asked whether she considered bitcoins to be money, Hukill laughed.

“I think it can fit into our laws somewhere,” she said.

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Before joining Florida Politics, journalist and attorney James Rosica was state government reporter for The Tampa Tribune. He attended journalism school in Washington, D.C., working at dailies and weekly papers in Philadelphia after graduation. Rosica joined the Tallahassee Democrat in 1997, later moving to the courts beat, where he reported on the 2000 presidential recount. In 2005, Rosica left journalism to attend law school in Philadelphia, afterwards working part time for a public-interest law firm. Returning to writing, he covered three legislative sessions in Tallahassee for The Associated Press, before joining the Tribune’s re-opened Tallahassee bureau in 2013. He can be reached at jim@floridapolitics.com.

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