SHERIDAN — The Wyoming Legislature’s Minerals, Business and Economic Development Committee voted to sponsor several bills drafted by the Blockchain Task Force during its meeting in Casper this week.
The bills look to build off legislation passed in the previous two legislative sessions to revise the state’s financial regulations in an effort to encourage companies using or developing blockchain technologies to operate in Wyoming.
The most significant piece of proposed legislation would provide exemptions from regulation under the Wyoming Money Transmitters Act — which has historically proven to be an obstacle for companies who work with blockchain technology — for companies whose total business dealings fall beneath a certain threshold.
In practice, that would mean small, or fledgling, money transmitter companies would not have to get a license to operate from the Wyoming Department of Banking.
Businesses whose total transmissions are less than $10,000 would be eligible for that exemption, per the proposed bill.
Sen. Chris Rothfuss, D-Laramie, who serves on both the blockchain task force and the minerals committee, said the proposed exemptions resemble similar reprieves granted by states throughout the country.
“This is conforming our statute with existing federal allowances for that small business exemption, which we didn’t have, recognizing that start-ups and small businesses would find it onerous to have to conform with all of the money transmitter requirements,” Rothfuss said. Wyoming Department of Banking Commissioner Albert Forkner told the committee his department worked with the Blockchain Task Force on the money transmitters exemption in an effort to ease the barriers to entry and supported the bill taking effect.
“To us this makes sense, I think it’s pretty clear, and we have no objections as far as being able to administer [the regulation],” Forkner said.
The remaining bills the committee chose to support make smaller tweaks to existing Wyoming laws with a similar objective.
Applying existing laws to companies that specialize in blockchain technologies and cryptocurrencies can prove to be difficult, as those technologies are redefining traditionally-understood financial concepts like “assets” and “securities.”
Rep. Tyler Lindholm, R-Sundance, told the committee the bills revised Wyoming laws to both clarify them with regard to blockchain companies, and ensure that they do not present any unintended obstacles to companies working with blockchain.
Blockchain-related bills have sailed through the Legislature in recent sessions, encountering virtually no opposition from Wyoming lawmakers in the process. That bodes well for this latest package of bills, but lawmakers will decide whether that trend continues starting in February.