Will Virginia start minting its own currency?
It's an idea worth considering, according to the state's House of Delegates.
The lower chamber passed a bill Monday to study the possibility. The legislation, proposed by Manassas Republican Del. Robert Marshall, would create a new joint subcommittee made up of lawmakers, plus two outside experts, to "study the feasibility of a metallic-based monetary unit."
The committee could spend up to $17,440 and would present its recommendations before the legislative session starts in 2014.
Translation: Ten people would advise Virginia on whether to start making its own currency on a gold or silver standard.
It's not the first time Marshall has proposed such legislation. Versions of this bill have been floating around since 2011. Its preamble is rife with damnations of the Federal Reserve and its "unprecedented monetary policy actions" and "activist intervention in banking and credit markets," the point being that Virginia can no longer trust federal fiat money, and might need "a more stable money unit consistent with limited government."
The heavily Republican House of Delegates passed it 65 to 32 Monday.
While the prospect of a state-based Virginia currency sounds intriguing, and potentially destabilizing, it's not likely to happen. The bill now moves to the state Senate, which is less likely to approve. Virginia's upper chamber is evenly split between 20 Republicans and 20 Democrats.
The response from Republican leadership has been lukewarm.
"Although I cannot express confidence in the legislation's prospects as of this writing, I might note we are prepared in the event of a Virginia currency being approved," said Jeff Ryer, spokesman for the Virginia Senate GOP caucus.
The Marshall proposal, well known to some in the Virginia legislature, was gently mocked at the annual Virginia Capitol Correspondents Association dinner in 2011, where wooden coins bearing Marshall's face surfaced.
No one has publicly taken credit for the coins, according to a Virginia source.