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Vermont Furthers Blockchain Expedition with AG, State Agencies Working Group

Vermont Furthers Blockchain Expedition with AG, State Agencies Working Group

The Attorney General of Vermont and four other state agencies have formed a working group to study blockchain technology.


According to a 10 December press release from the office of Attorney General TJ Donovan, “the Department of Financial Regulation (DFR), the Secretary of State, and the Agency of Commerce and Community Development (ACCD)” are to examine the benefits and obstacles that come with blockchain technology in a bid to establish a consensus around the nascent sector.

It is worth noting that they will be actively seeking input from industry experts, associations and stakeholders.

After briefly describing how blockchain technology works, the press release goes on to state the current aims of the working group who are planning to begin work in January of 2019. Firstly, as mentioned earlier, they wish to see “what opportunities, challenges, and concerns blockchain may present”. The second point opens the door to quite an interesting line of dialog as the group wishes to determine whether or not “blockchain-specific regulation or legislation is necessary and, if so, of what type”. Finally, they will endeavor to work out how to protect consumers who use the technology directly, or “be affected by it”.

Donovan offered his comments: “In an era of persistent data hacks, security breaches, and online activity, exploring new and innovative ways to protect our data is essential… And, we must strive to balance economic opportunity with consumer protection.”

The Attorney General also added that the formation of this group will grant state regulatory agencies the chance to become educated on blockchain technology and establish a way to “engage with a technology that may represent a new business sector”.

Previously in Vermont

Vermont has been positively engaging with the blockchain ecosystem this year. Earlier in May, state lawmakers and Vermont Governor Phil Scott signed a bill allowing for the creation of “blockchain-based limited liability companies“.

This bill came into effect in July and, according to Scott, the new law will foster economic innovations through the encouraged experimentation of blockchain technologies, an emerging sector that has already penetrated a number of industries. At the time, he said: “This will help solidify Vermont’s position as an innovation leader and demonstrate our openness to trying new ideas.”

The bill also meant the beginning of Vermont’s educational foray into the potential applications of blockchain and the regulatory changes required for positive impacts in the future for local industries. Furthermore, it allows for Vermont’s ACCD, DFR and representatives from across academic and private sector backgrounds to host a fintech summit and explore the promotion of blockchain technology in the state’s government.


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California in Trend with Blockchain Introduction into State Legislation

A bill has passed both houses of the Californian state legislature which, if brought into law, will define blockchain and require the forming of a government blockchain group within a year.

The bill AB 2658 is now awaiting Californian governor Jerry Brown’s approval. If implemented, it would define blockchain as “a mathematically secured, chronological, and decentralized ledger or database“, representing a huge step in accepting blockchain in the state and elsewhere in the US.

This is a growing trend in the US as Bitcoin News has reported over the course of 2018, with US states signing up to blockchain. Arizona has officially signed into law a bill that allows for corporations to hold and share data on a blockchain. First introduced in February by state representative Jeff Weninger, the bill is intended “to open the door for emerging technologies in Arizona”.

In May, the New York state legislature also presented a bill to create a blockchain task force. If created, the New York task force would prepare a report for the governor, the temporary president of the state senate, and the speaker of the assembly by December 2019. Also, Colorado has passed its own bill which will use blockchain for government record keeping and cybersecurity.

Tennessee signed a bill recently that legally recognizes blockchain technology and smart contracts for electronic transactions. The bill also makes a provision that “protects ownership rights of certain information secured by blockchain technology”.

California’s bill requires that the blockchain group should represent a widespread from the public domain, comprising those from within the industry as well as members of the legal profession, private companies and consumer groups.

Moves at integrating blockchain into legislation has become a race in the US with  Nebraska, Florida, Arizona, Nevada, and Vermont, along with Maine, Hawaii, Illinois, and North Dakota, some of the many US states notably either in the process of presenting bills, enacting legislation or actively utilizing blockchain in state legislation.


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Blockchain Gains US Momentum as Ohio Examines New Bill

The US state of Ohio is currently proposing a change to state law through a bill which will legally recognize smart contracts and storage of records on a blockchain, according to Coindesk.

There are several states in the US that have adopted blockchain-associated laws. Vermont, Arizona, Delaware, Illinois, Nevada, and Tennessee are among these states. Indiana, Iowa, and Texas have taken a somewhat negative approach against cryptocurrencies or flagged them as potentially risky.

Some states have examined the governmental use of blockchain, either as isolated applications in specific or integrated government functions. Vermont, for example, recognizes data stored on a blockchain as admissible in the court system, according to Brookings.

Washington and New Hampshire have succeeded in passing some legislation and Arizona has introduced or passed regulations ranging from making signatures, transactions, and contracts on a blockchain legally valid, to allowing residents to pay their income tax in cryptocurrencies.

If Ohio becomes another blockchain state and the ‘Revise Electronic Transactions Act/blockchain/smart contracts’ bill signs into law, it will significantly pass ownership rights to those needing to store electronic information on the blockchain. Bill 300 states:

“Notwithstanding any other law, a person that, in or affecting interstate or foreign commerce, uses blockchain technology to secure information that the person owns or has the right to use retains the same rights of ownership or use with respect to that information as before the person secured the information using blockchain technology.”

Changes to the existing bill have notable inclusions in the amendment relating specifically to blockchain, making it clear that smart contracts will legally usable for legal documents.

Brookings research shows that in the past two years, a wave of states has started to shift attention to blockchain technology and explore the potential roles of the technology in public and private services.

Recently, Arizona passed a bill that allows residents of the state to use cryptocurrencies in making tax payments. Also, Wyoming passed its own bill through both legislatures early this year which exempts cryptocurrency from state property tax, potentially making it the friendliest state in the US to investors of crypto assets.


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