Arizona Lawmakers Gearing Up to Pioneer State-Wide Regulated Blockchain Industry

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The state of 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”.

Over the past two months, Arizona has been making headlines following numerous blockchain-related reports. Firstly in early March, the Arizona House of Representatives gave passage to a bill which was initially introduced in January. It has not yet been voted into law, however, if passed, it would make Arizona the first US state to accept payment for taxes in “Bitcoin or other cryptocurrency”.

A brief timeline of events

Jeff Weninger also sponsored House Bill 2602, which in February was passed. The bill would provide protection against any form or local regulation for users who are running blockchain nodes; the bill states: “a city or town may not prohibit or otherwise restrict an individual from running a node on blockchain technology in a residence.”

Weninger was also at the helm of two more blockchain bills. In February, the Arizona state representative began paving the regulatory framework for initial coin offerings (ICOs) in the state. The first bill defined “virtual coins” as “a digital representation of value that can be digitally traded and that functions as a medium of exchange, unit of account and store of value”.  The second bill made amendments to the Arizona Revised Statutes, which is to account for data that is written and stored on a blockchain.

By the end of March, controversy struck when an Arizona Bitcoin trader was convicted for five accounts of money laundering. On 28 March, Thomas Mario Costanzo was jailed for accumulating over USD 164,000 in cash made from narcotics, exchanging it into Bitcoin and further selling and distributing illegal substances using Bitcoin as a preferred method of payment via internet purchases.

The efforts made were not stifled by the Bitcoin controversy; typically a Bitcoin scam/scare can cause regulators and lawmakers to come down hard on the technology, but not in Arizona.

A year after, the state began accepting smart contracts as legal documentation and recognizing signatures recorded on a blockchain. Arizona is finalizing proceedings with the HB2603, HB2602, and HB2601 bill package that together can demonstrate to the rest of the United States that it is possible to integrate and regulate blockchain technology state-wide.

Arizona leading the way

Other states have not been so fortunate. Both New Hampshire and the state of Georgia failed to pass a bill that was to require the state to accept cryptocurrencies for payment of taxes and license fees. In Georgia, it was supposedly held back by a lack of understanding and education on the benefits that blockchain technology could bring.

Though that is not to say that new legislation and regulations are entirely off the cards for any of the states; Arizona has the opportunity to set the standard for the rest of the nation and demonstrate the beneficial potency of a regulated blockchain industry.


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