Bill to study ‘alternate currency’ for Va. inches forward

January 25, 2013

— Virginia takes pride in having its own culture and history, its own unique way of doing business.

But does the commonwealth also need its own money?

Maybe so, says Del. Robert Marshall (R-Prince William), who is pushing a bill in the General Assembly that would mandate a study of whether the state “should adopt an alternate medium of commerce or currency to serve as an alternative to the currency distributed by the Federal Reserve System in the event of a major breakdown of the Federal Reserve System.”

With ongoing high-stakes debates underway over transportation funding, education reform and Senate redistricting, creating a new currency may not be high on anyone’s to-do list in Richmond. But a House subcommittee did advance Marshall’s measure Thursday, ensuring it will at least get a look from the full House Rules Committee and drawing a sharp response from Democrats.

A study by the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission “is expensive,” complained Del. Mark Sickles (Fairfax), the Democratic Caucus chairman. “It can cost tens of thousands of dollars. Are we seriously going to spend taxpayer resources studying a replacement to the world’s backbone currency? Are we descending into la la land?” Sickles asked.

Marshall had not responded to a request for comment as of this posting. (His bill states that the study can’t cost more than $22,560.)

Marshall’s bill expresses concern that the value of greenbacks could be destroyed by “hyperinflation.” It notes that “from our nation’s founding, there has been concern regarding the country’s monetary and banking systems and their potential to harm the citizenry,” and that Thomas Jefferson himself “expressed deep concern about the social instability that may ultimately result from bank-issued paper money.”

Several other states are also studying or have proposed studying the issuance of their own currencies.

Marshall has made similar proposals before, though this is the first time his bill has gotten subcommittee approval. In 2011 he said such a measure was necessary because “state legislatures have to get a little more creative and savvy to counter the buffoonery that’s been plaguing Washington.”

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