12TH APR 2017 | WRITTEN BY: CHRIS SIEROTY IN WASHINGTON, D.C.
A senator in Nevada has told PaymentsCompliance it is crucial to the state’s economic viability that it positions itself as a “safe space for entrepreneurs” developing companies that utilize blockchain technology.
To begin to create a supportive environment, Republican Senator Ben Kieckhefer filed a bill that would prevent local authorities from imposing fees or taxes on the use of blockchain technology.
Nevada Senate Bill 398 is concerned with creating a legal foundation for blockchain contracts and records.
“As blockchain is growing and evolving … I want companies to know that Nevada has a legal structure that ensures transactions conducted over a blockchain will be recognized by our courts,” Kieckhefer said.
Hopefully, the senator said, it will encourage more companies to do business in Nevada.
Kieckhefer said one of the companies he was working with was Filament, which is a Reno-based blockchain company.
“It isn’t often that a new technology comes along that completely changes the way we interact with each other,” Filament chief executive Allison Clift-Jennings wrote in a letter supporting SB 398 to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
“It happened with the advent of the internet and later with the smartphone revolution,” Clift-Jennings said. “The blockchain is a new technology that’s just as important.”
Clift-Jennings said that blockchain technology has the “ability to reduce fraud and bring new trust to existing interactions.”
Under Kieckhefer’s proposal, the use of blockchain technology or licensure would not be taxed by local government in Nevada.
But nothing in the bill “prohibits a local governmental entity from using a blockchain or smart contract in the performance of its powers or duties.”
A similar bill was signed on March 31 by Republican Arizona Governor Doug Ducey that would enshrine signatures recorded on a blockchain and smart contracts — self-executing pieces of code — under state law.
Specifically, House Bill 2417, aimed to make those types of records “considered to be in an electronic format and to be an electronic record.”
The Arizona law was also similar to a measure passed in Vermont last year that would make blockchain data admissible in court.
The bill also focused on data that would be a “factor or record” tied to a blockchain.
“Blockchain technology has certainly gained transaction among Nevada’s entrepreneurs,” Kieckhefer said.
Kieckhefer’s four-page bill states that a local government is prohibited from “(1) imposing a tax or fee on the use of blockchain; (2) requiring a certificate, license or permit to use a blockchain; and (3) imposing any other requirement relating to the use of a blockchain.”
The bill would also prohibit the exclusion of blockchain records in “proceedings,” noting in Section 11 that “if a law requires a record to be in writing, submission of a blockchain which electronically contains the record satisfies the law.”
“A smart contract, record or signature may not be denied legal effect or enforceability solely because blockchain was used to create, store or verify the smart contract, record or signature,” the bill said.
“In a [legal] proceeding, evidence of a smart contract, record or signature must not be excluded solely because a blockchain was used to create, store, or verify the smart contract, record or signature.”
But with less than half of the 120-day session left in Nevada, lawmakers have limited time to approve what is a wide-ranging piece of legislation that deals with relatively new technology.
If the bill dies in the 2017 Nevada legislature, Kieckhefer would have to wait until February 2019 to file another measure.
“While I’m not sure any specific problems will be created if we don’t pass this legislation, I believe Nevada could miss out on a significant opportunity to become a destination state for entrepreneurs and businesses working in this area,” the senator said.