Brown’s blockchain work group bill passes Senate unanimously

Sen. Sharon Brown’s efforts to position Washington as a leader on blockchain technology took a big step forward with today’s unanimous Senate passage of her bill to establish the Washington Blockchain Work Group.

“Every day, companies are adopting blockchain technology to improve delivery of services,” explained Brown, R-Kennewick. “This bill is vital to creating an environment that is welcoming of new business prospects, eager to seek out new applications, and willing to identify potential supply-chain management and STEM-education opportunities.

“By passing this measure with unanimous support, my colleagues have spoken out loud and clear to say that they want the state and the private sector to work together to advance this technology for the benefit of each other, as well as Washington residents and workers.” 

Substitute Senate Bill 6065 would create the work group with the purpose of examining various potential applications of blockchain technology, such as computing, banking and other financial services, real estate transactions, healthcare and public record keeping. Under the bill, the group would consist of lawmakers, representatives of the departments of commerce and financial institutions and the state’s Consolidated Technology Services agency, along with private-sector stakeholders and experts. It would operate between Aug. 1, 2020, and Jan. 1, 2022.

In 2019 the Legislature passed Brown’s landmark legislation to recognize and provide legal protection for electronic records generated or stored using distributed-ledger technology – meaning a distributed, decentralized, shared and replicated ledger. Blockchain, a type of distributed-ledger technology, is a cryptographically secured, chronological, and decentralized consensus database that is maintained via the internet or a peer-to-peer network.

Investment in blockchain technology has been rapidly growing, reaching $72 billion as of last March. Last year, the Cascadia Blockchain Council, whose members include IBM, Microsoft and T-Mobile, was formed to advocate for the burgeoning industry. A number of the council’s members testified in support of Brown’s measure.

“The thing I love most about blockchain are the hard-working men and women who are developing and utilizing this technology,” said Brown. “The potential applications of blockchain technology are limitless and we want make sure we are supporting these innovators, businesses and industries in their pursuit of their entrepreneurial dreams. We want them to make Washington their home, and we want the jobs they will inevitably create – both in and out of the technology field – to go to Washingtonians.”

SSB 6065 passed the Senate 48-0, and now moves to the House of Representatives.