‘We’re on offense’: Gov. DeSantis signs digital currency, gun sale tracking bills

Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at a news conference before signing two bills Friday. (WJXT)

Gov. Ron DeSantis declared Friday that Florida is “on offense” as he signed two bills he said would protect Floridians against looming threats to their financial independence and financial privacy.

“We’re leading, getting ahead of issues, and we’re making sure that your freedoms are protected against threats that may not even necessarily be here right now but are developing,” DeSantis said at a news conference in Fort Myers. “That, I think, is the hallmark of good leadership.”

A sign at the news conference read, “Big Brother’s Digital Dollar,” and one of the bills DeSantis signed dealt directly with digital currency.

The bill (SB 7054) prohibits the use of a federally adopted central bank digital currency (CBDC) by excluding it from the definition of money within Florida’s Uniform Commercial Code. The bill also prohibits foreign-issued CBDC.

The federal government has been studying the benefits and risks of CBDCs, which would enable the general public to make digital payments through a centralized currency. Right now, physical currency is the only type of central bank money available to the general public.

Gov. Ron DeSantis signs two bills Friday. (WJXT)

Calling CBDC a “wolf coming as a wolf,” DeSantis accused the federal government of trying to crowd out cryptocurrency because they can’t control it the way they could a CBDC. He argued that a federally sanctioned CBDC would diminish the role of community banks and credit unions in the U.S. financial system as CBDC currency would be a direct liability of the federal government, rather than of a chartered financial institution, which he said would shrink market lending power.

“They’re going to be able to have a window into what you’re doing with the money. They’re going to have the ability to control where that money is going,” DeSantis said. “This is something that will be a massive transfer of power from individual consumers to a central authority. That’s fundamentally antithetical to a free society.”

DeSantis said some states have begun adding CBDC to their Uniform Commercial Codes, but Florida is going in the opposite direction -- actually blocking the term from the code and saying the state won’t recognize it.

The other bill DeSantis signed Friday (SB 214) deals with the sale of firearms and ammunition.

The bill prevents credit-card companies from tracking firearm and ammunition sales by using a separate “merchant category code” for sales at gun businesses.

Gov. Ron DeSantis holds up two bills he signed Friday. (WJXT)

House sponsor John Snyder, R-Stuart, said the proposal would protect the ability of Second Amendment supporters “to purchase and spend their money freely without fear of reprisal.”

“We’ll be the first state in the country to step up to the plate and prohibit these massive financial institutions from collecting data on you, flagging you, just for basically exercising your right,” DeSantis said.

Democrats argued the bill would interfere with businesses and hinder efforts to track guns used in violent incidents.

Similar four-digit codes are already used to separate purchases and collect data from places such as grocery stores, gas stations, restaurants and bookstores. Last year, Visa, Mastercard and American Express announced plans to categorize gun-shop sales. But after Republican pushback in several states, the plans have been paused.

Agriculture Commissioner Wilton Simpson and Senate President Kathleen Passidomo joined the governor at Southwest Florida Public Service Academy at Fort Myers Technical College.

The governor, who has been traveling around the state signing bills from the recently ended legislative session, signed 37 bills on Thursday, including several health care-related bills to block COVID-19 mandates. He also signed an immigration bill this week during a visit to Jacksonville.

About the Author:

A Jacksonville native and proud University of North Florida alum, Francine Frazier has been with News4Jax since 2014 after spending nine years at The Florida Times-Union.