Brown bill establishing state Blockchain Work Group clears technology committee

Sen. Sharon Brown’s efforts to position Washington as a leader on blockchain technology won support today from the Senate Environment, Energy and Technology Committee. It advanced her legislation to establish the Washington Blockchain Work Group and create a welcoming environment for businesses that are adopting distributed-ledger technology.

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 Consolidated Technology Services Agency, along with private-sector stakeholders and experts. It would operate between Aug. 1, 2020, and Jan. 1, 2022.

“The potential applications of blockchain technology are limitless,” said Brown, R-Kennewick. “Every day, new businesses and whole industries are looking for new ways to improve delivery of services and the customer experience through use of blockchain. We want those innovators, businesses and industries to make Washington their home, and we want the jobs they create – both in and out of the technology field – to go to Washingtonians.

“This bill will help bring together the state and blockchain advocates and experts to identify these business opportunities.”

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.

Several advocates for blockchain technology came to Olympia to testify about the benefits of a new work group.

Arry Yu, chair of the Cascadia Blockchain Council, told committee members how “companies all around the world, and right here in Washington state, are creating and adopting blockchain technology to dramatically improve the quality and delivery of services. Companies in Washington are using blockchain to help with record keeping for health companies. Boeing is using blockchain to track cargo transports. And Amazon web services has recently begun using blockchain to provide customers with a clear, transparent, and permanent log of transactions.

“Senate Bill 6065 is a critical step in bringing all of the private sector advancements utilizing this technology by partnering with government and the private sector to figure out what are the correct next steps. Working together and laying the groundwork for future supporting regulations [will] attract investment and jobs for our state,” Yu added.