Nebraska legislators debated three new pieces of legislation concerning blockchain technology last week. A fourth was introduced to the legislature earlier this year.
Senator Carol Blood introduced three bills:
(i) LB 691– Adopt the Nebraska Virtual Currency Money Laundering Act, which seeks to prosecute those who knowingly commit illegal acts with cryptocurrency
(ii) LB 694 – Prohibit cities and villages and counties from taxing or regulating distributed ledger technology, which as it sounds would stop the taxing or regulating of blockchain technology.
(iii) LB 695 – Authorize and define smart contracts and authorize use of distributed ledger technology as prescribed, which would make smart contracts enforceable
Senator Blood told SPN, “My intent is to lead the pack over other states scrambling to do the same type of legislation and put Nebraska on the map as a state that is open for business here in the Silicon Prairie.”
Senator Paul Schumacher introduced the fourth blockchain-related bill, LB 987 – Adopt the Uniform Regulation of Virtual-Currency Businesses Act, which would mean that some blockchain-related business transactions require a license. In the Statement of Intent, it summarizes the bill, “The URVCBA provides a statutory framework for the regulation of companies engaging in “virtual-currency business activity.” Schumacher says it will help protect the rights of consumers by holding blockchain companies who hold their private keys to a higher standard.
Local blockchain industry members were invited to share their opinions about the bills in front of the legislature. Kyle Tut of blockchain consulting firm Blockera told SPN, “It was good that our senators were proposing bills that are trying to be pro-blockchain and that they were eager to learn about how it would affect our state.” Tut added, “It didn’t feel like they were trying to shove this down our throats. It just seemed like they wanted to understand more.”
Overall supporters of the bills say that they will look after customers’ rights, while also putting Nebraska at the head of the pack in the blockchain industry. Their opponents say that too much regulation could scare away blockchain business, and the technology is too early in its development to be subject to strict definitions of the law. LB 987 met the most vocal resistance from the community.
Edward Weniger of Alpha BTC, which describes itself as “the face of Bitcoin in the Midwest”, has launched an online campaign to rally the fintech sector in Nebrasksa to make their voices heard against the legislation. On the site, Weniger writes, “Such a nascent industry and cryptocurrency is not prepared for this type of regulation – there is plenty of rapid maturation to occur still, and especially not so heavy-handed.”