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Two representatives of Rhode Island’s General Assembly introduced a bill on Wednesday, March 11 called the Rhode Island Economic Growth Blockchain Act. The bill was introduced by Representatives David Place and Blake Filippi. In the initial text of the bill, the legislation calls for the importance of developing Rhode Island’s economy, ensuring its regulations are friendly to blockchain innovators, and a comprehensive regulatory technology sandbox.
‘The state of Rhode Island understands that to compete in the twenty-first century economy, Rhode Island must offer one of the best business environments in the United States for blockchain and technology innovators, and should offer a comprehensive regulatory technology sandbox for these innovators to develop the next generation of digital products and services in Rhode Island.’
The bill lays out four main priorities: (1) an economic growth blockchain act; (2) setting regulations for the sale of hemp; (3) regulating virtual and digital assets; and (4) establishing depository banks for these purposes.
The bill establishes a blockchain technology advisory council and the development of a blockchain filing system. It also addresses the use of blockchain technology for track and trace of heavily regulated products such as hemp. Additionally, the bill calls for the formation of a ‘Financial Sandbox’ and a ‘Special Purpose Sandbox’. The ‘Financial Sandbox’ looks to create an innovative space for blockchain entrepreneurs while being afforded some space from running afoul of state regulations. With the ‘Special Purpose Sandbox’, the bill aims at creating a new type of financial institution called a ‘Special Purpose Depository Institution’, which will provide service to blockchain technology firms that face challenges in receiving services from traditional banks.
With many states in the U.S. continuing to view how blockchain technology can be used as a way to future-proof a mission that can capture the growth of new technologies and the landscape of new economies, bills such as these will likely continue. As the bill is very similar to how the state of Wyoming has established a very friendly blockchain space, the hopes for Rhode Island with this technology are ambitious.
This is not the state’s first exploration into how blockchain technology can help the state of Rhode Island. Last year, Rhode Island put out a Request For Proposals asking for blockchain proofs of concept from industry. For more detail on the bill language, see below: