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Legislature blockchain

Though the Wyoming Legislature passed several bills related to blockchain technology at during this year's session, many boosters of the industry portrayed the move as a low-risk step that could boost the state's economy rather than a guarantee of economic growth.

Josh Galemore, Star-Tribune

We have not often tipped our hat to the Wyoming Legislature, but the following the 2018 budget session that concluded in February.

There is one block of legislation and its swift acceptance by lawmakers that deserves such a gesture.

The Cowboy State has now legalized many applications of blockchain technology, from trading virtual currency to storing corporate records, making Wyoming one of the first states to welcome the new digital frontier with open, deregulated arms. And it’s exciting, because it’s one step toward diversifying Wyoming’s economy.

Blockchain technology can be difficult to understand. Just consider it a means of securing data on the internet that proves challenging, if not impossible, for hackers to infiltrate. And because it’s so hard to hack, it’s being used for transferring virtual currencies (think Bitcoin), consumer data security and could even be used for online voting.

The tech certainly has a seedy underbelly – the impenetrable privacy it offers has given rise to criminal applications. The cryptocurrency market is fraught with fraudulent coins and shadow corporations that are profiting on the explosion of crypto-coin popularity.

But the Legislature saw past the risks and embraced the tech for the opportunity in its positive applications.

This is a move in the right direction for Wyoming. Aside from the potential boon to the economy that the legislation allows for – an “inviting regulatory sandbox” for blockchain companies, as member of Endow put it – it can also offer other applications that would benefit the state.

The use of blockchain in county voting systems could streamline voting for both voters and county clerks offices. And even more importantly, it can provide a secure option for online voting that would be much safer from outside interference.

The widespread possibilities that legalizing blockchain in Wyoming provides far outweigh the risks. And at no cost to taxpayers, the legislation is a win-win.

Still, though, it’s worth pointing out that there are a couple pieces missing from the big picture. Without a tax structure that isn’t built around mineral extraction and the infrastructure to support an alternative industry, like tech, the blockchain technology won’t likely turn Wyoming into a tech hub.

So while we tip our hats to the Legislature for moving quickly on this smart legislation, we urge them to consider the much needed overhaul of Wyoming’s tax structure that would really make it work. Without that, we’ll be forever caught up between a boom and a bust.

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