On Friday, Sept. 21st, Minnesota Congressman Tom Emmer announced that he intends to introduce three pieces of legislation in support of blockchain technology and digital currencies.
— Chamber of Digital Commerce (@DigitalChamber) September 24, 2018
Getting government behind blockchain
Emmer represents Minnesota’s 6th congressional district and was recently named a co-chair of the Congressional Blockchain Caucus alongside Bill Foster of Illinois, David Schweikert of Arizona, and Jared Polis of Colorado. Emmer said in the release published on his website that:
“The United States should prioritize accelerating the development of blockchain technology and create an environment that enables the American private sector to lead on innovation and further growth, which is why I am introducing these bills.”
Both he and the caucus favor a hands-off approach to regulation, which is reflected in the text of Emmer’s bills and of the caucus’ website. From its mission page:
“We are a bi-partisan group of Members of Congress and Staff who believe in the future of blockchain technology, and understand that Congress has a role to play in its development. As a Caucus, we have decided on a hands-off regulatory approach, believing that this technology will best evolve the same way the internet did; on its own.”
A quick overview
Emmer is proposing three separate pieces of legislation aimed at development in the digital asset industry, including one that would provide safe harbor to holders of forked digital assets.
The first bill, named the Resolution Supporting Digital Currencies and Blockchain Technology, calls for a “light touch, consistent, and simple legal environment.” The bill compares blockchain tech to the internet at the beginning of the 20th century, claiming that it, too benefitted from lighter regulation. It calls for Congress to prioritize speedy development of blockchain technology in a way that “supports security and transparency.
The Blockchain Regulatory Certainty Act would prevent “blockchain related entities that never take control of consumer funds” like miners and multi-signature providers from having to register themselves as money transmitters. The bill aims to provide a safe harbor for non-controlling developers and providers of blockchain services. The exception to this would be if a provider had control over a user’s digital currency to which that user is entitled in the “regular course of their business.”
The Safe Harbor for Taxpayers With Forked Assets Act purports to create exactly that by restricting fines against digital asset holders until the IRS provides more detailed guidance for reporting those assets. It would protect digital asset holders from penalties provided any failure to report their holdings is due to current requirements related to the reporting of digital assets.
Full text of all three bills is available on Emmer’s website and linked above.