New Report Card
Measures State Legislatures’ Support for
Exponential Increase in State Blockchain Legislation
State legislators started recognizing the economic and consumer opportunities that blockchain technology can bring as early as 2014 and began to introduce legislation supporting its growth. Recognizing this upward trend, we published our Legislator’s Toolkit for Blockchain Technology prior to the start of the January 2019 state legislative sessions. State legislators want to promote blockchain technology in their states. Our goal was to arm policy makers with ideas for legislation that would benefit the growth of blockchain technology.
So how are the states stacking up? Nearly six months later, our State Working Group is taking a closer look through the introduction of a new State Blockchain Report Card. The results: The introduction of state blockchain legislation has exploded. In fact, we’ve seen an increase from 64 bills introduced among the state legislatures in 2018 to 237 and counting as of May 16, 2019. Of these bills, 55 support the concepts in our Toolkit.
One of the key suggestions in the Legislator’s Toolkit for Blockchain Technology, and one of our primary principles in our National Action Plan for Blockchain, is the development of an office to coordinate resources and information to support blockchain technology. The following states have created working groups or task forces specific to blockchain technology: California, Delaware, Illinois, New York, Vermont, and Wyoming; while 11 states have introduced legislation to create a government office or group that focuses on promoting blockchain technology: Connecticut, Florida, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, New York, Oregon, Texas, Utah, and Virginia.
We look forward to seeing even more support for blockchain technology in state legislation throughout the year and in the next legislative sessions.
A Patchwork of State Smart Contract Legislation
The federal Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act (E-SIGN Act) and the state Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (UETA) are technology neutral and thus already address the enforceability of signatures and records using blockchain technology and smart contracts. Nevertheless, in an attempt to support the technology, Arizona, Arkansas, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, and Washington have all enacted disparate amendments to their electronic transactions laws. And four states – Connecticut, Illinois, Iowa, and New York – still have legislation pending to do the same.
While there is no doubt that these laws share a common goal – to encourage and support blockchain development in their respective jurisdictions – these state laws are independent of one another, are inconsistently drafted, and create a patchwork of inconsistent laws from state to state. This makes it difficult for global digital businesses to comply with laws in the United States and is a barrier to entry to the market. As noted by the Uniform Law Commission, “… the UETA already adequately encompasses blockchain and smart contracts, and changes to specifically address these technologies are not only unnecessary but also detrimental.”