Blockchain, Cryptocurrency Bills Top Committee

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Cryptocurrency and blockchain, the electronic ledger technology that is still the subject of considerable national debate, could soon have a bigger presence in California if lawmakers approve.

Elected representatives in the Senate and State Assembly have proposed several laws that would expand and clarify the use of blockchain and cryptocurrency in the public and private sectors as well as in education – if they were to clear the legislature and win a signature from Governor Gavin Newsom later this year. Here is what our elected officials are currently considering:

  • State Senate Bill 1190, by State Senator Bob Hertzberg, D-Van Nuys, would require the California Department of Technology (CDT) by January 1, 2024, to create a “California Trust Framework to provide industry standards and best practices regarding the issuance of credentials to verify information about a person or legal entity”. It would also require CDT to work with the California Department of Education to organize a five-year pilot project “using verifiable credentials” for high school transcripts. The bill defines a verifiable credential as “a set of cryptographically secure information, created in accordance with open standards, that respects and protects all existing privacy protections and provides a portable and user-controlled means of share information in a way that can be authenticated through publicly available services.The bill would require the pilot to let participating high schools use these verifiable credentials for student transcripts – and to enter into agreements with community colleges to accept the use of these transcripts by students.Hertzberg, who is the majority leader in the state Senate, said Techwire via email that lawmakers “want to integrate blockchain technology into everyday life in California.”
    “Starting with high school transcripts is an easy way to introduce blockchain to a whole new generation who will rely on technology for the security it offers and the trust it creates. Government should always be in the innovation space and the use of blockchain technology in credentialing will put our state at the forefront,” he added.The bill has been introduced and referred to state Senate committees on government organization and education No hearing date has yet been announced.
  • State Assembly Bill 2689, by Assemblyman Jordan Cunningham, R-San Luis Obispo, would authorize state entities – whether public or private – to accept virtual currency as payment for goods or services, including for government services. It defines a public entity as “the state and every entity of the state,” including the legislature, judiciary, University of California and California State University systems, and counties , cities, charter towns and counties, school districts, community college districts, and joint jurisdiction authorities and agencies. The bill defines virtual currency as “a digital representation of value that functions as a medium of exchange, unit of account, or store of value, and is often secured using blockchain technology.” The bill was introduced and referred to the Assembly Committees on Banking and Finance, and on Privacy and Consumer Protection; hearing dates have not been announced.
  • AB 2781, also from Cunningham, would require the California Employment Development Department — which lost billions to unemployment insurance fraud during the pandemic and was ordered by the state auditor to remove social security numbers from postal correspondence to reduce identity theft – to “study the feasibility of using blockchain technology. The bill defines blockchain as “a mathematically secure, chronological, decentralized ledger or database The bill has been tabled and referred to the House Insurance and Privacy and Consumer Protection Committees; hearing dates have not been announced.
  • Much like AB 2689, though focused entirely on the public sector, SB 1275, by State Senator Sydney Kamlager, D-Los Angeles, “would authorize a state agency to accept cryptocurrency as a mode payment for the provision of government services”. It was referred to the Senate Committees on Government Organization and on Banking and Financial Institutions; hearing dates have not been announced.

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