18 August 2022

The Rhode Island General Assembly has introduced a
bill, called the Rhode Island Economic Growth Blockchain Act, which aims at
encouraging the state’s economy by ensuring that its regulations are friendly
to blockchain innovators and providing a comprehensive regulatory technology
sandbox.

The Rhode Island Economic Growth Blockchain Act
revolves around four main areas: an economic growth blockchain act; setting
regulations for the sale of hemp; regulation of virtual and digital assets; and
establishment of depository banks for the purposes stated. The bill ‘mainly’
seeks to establish a blockchain technology advisory council and the development
of a blockchain-based filing system.

In addition, the bill compels the tracking and tracing
of heavily regulated products such as hemp, or cannabis, by using blockchain to
“ensure public health and safety.” It also moves for the formation of a
“financial sandbox” and a “special depository sandbox.”

Liz Tanner, director of the department of business regulation,
said: “Rhode Island aims to be a leader in government efficiency and innovation
and we believe exploring the possibilities of blockchain technology is a step
toward modernisation in government. This will encourage blockchain businesses
to demonstrate their value to government entities, and I encourage
blockchain-based businesses to consider Rhode Island to test blockchain
technology within government.”

Last year, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed two bills that aimed at bringing about a blockchain initiative task force into law. The bills, 2297 and A5111, would establish the New Jersey Blockchain Initiative Task Force and create the Innovation District Designation Program respectively.

Picture credit: Rhode Island Capitol, by cometstarmoon, used under CC BY 2.0

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