Legislators in North Dakota are quietly - but quickly - advancing a measure to study how the state should approach regulating digital currencies like bitcoin.
Public records show that at the end of last year, the North Dakota Senate's Industry, Business and Labor Committee put forward Bill 2100, which included language for a report on the feasibility of regulating bitcoin. The bill was introduced at the request of the state's Department of Financial Institutions, the chief finance regulator for the state.
The measure was passed unanimously in the Senate on 12th January with 46 votes. The legislature's lower chamber has since taken up the bill, though no hearings have been scheduled as of yet. However, the rapid pace in the Senate suggests that the study is likely to be approved once representatives put the measure to a vote.
If passed and signed by Gov. Doug Burgum, the study would put North Dakota on the path to introducing specific regulations for digital currencies.
As the bill explains:
"During the 2017-18 interim, the legislative management shall consider studying the feasibility and desirability of regulating virtual currency, such as bitcoin. The legislative management shall report its findings and recommendations, together with any legislation required to implement the recommendations, to the sixty-sixth legislative assembly."
The legislative proposal comes amid a flurry of activity amongst US state legislatures on the bitcoin and blockchain front.
Last month, two lawmakers in Washington proposed prohibiting businesses in the state's cannabis industry from using bitcoin and other digital currencies. That bill, still under deliberation, was the subject of a hearing on 27th January that saw both supporters and critics speak out.
Legislators in Hawaii are pushing for a study of how blockchain could benefit the state while New Hampshire is looking at how it can tinker with its financial oversight rules to account for digital currency traders.
And just last week, a state representative in Arizona filed a bill that would restrict the use of blockchain-based tracking systems for local firearms owners.
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