After being unable to donate Bitcoin to the University of Wyoming Foundation last year, Caitlin Long and two friends decided to take action. Together, they created the Wyoming Blockchain Coalition and brought five crypto related bills to the Wyoming government –all of which were signed into law recently by Governor Matt Mead.
The most notable was House Bill 70 aka “Utility Token Bill,” which makes Wyoming the first state in the world to define cryptocurrencies as an entirely new asset class. The second bill exempts utility tokens from the money transmitters and security laws (as long as they are exchangeable for goods and services and not marketed as investments); the third bill replicates the Delaware Blockchain Initiative, the fourth is the series LLC bill and the fifth bill exempts cryptocurrencies from property taxes.
“The state of Wyoming is the first elected body in the world to define a utility token as a new type of asset class different from a security or commodity,” said Long.
The passing of these bills has allowed money transmitters to return to Wyoming, and opened the door for blockchain-backed companies, including blockchain miners. Two coin exchanges, including Coinbase, had to pull out of Wyoming in 2015 due to the state’s money transmitter act.
It’s very exciting that Wyoming is the first state to define what a utility token is, setting an example of how this could become a standard under federal law. I do believe the Wyoming approach will work under federal securities law and am optimistic the SEC will agree, Long said.
Wyoming, known for cattle ranches, Yellowstone National Park, and coal and mineral mining is positioning itself for blockchain mining which demands a lot of CPU processing power and electricity.
Rep. Tyler Lindholm, a Republican member of the Wyoming House of Representatives says “We only use about 10% of the power we generate in the state of Wyoming,” and this makes Wyoming well suited to cryptocurrency mining. In addition to cheap power, there’s also strong fiber-optic bandwidth in Cheyenne, the state capital, which has already attracted major data centers to locate there.
Lindholm also said “I think we are going to see economic development and new tech sector jobs coming into the state of Wyoming. That alone is a fantastic aspect. And, we are laying down cryptocurrency laws based on the premise that this isn’t just a one time shot for Wyoming. We plan on staying hungry and working with industries to develop laws and regulations that will allow individuals and businesses to practice their trades to how they see fit.”
As the US government continues to fumble with creating legislation for the crypto industry, states like Wyoming are pushing forward. Other states that have bills pending or laws already on the books include Illinois, Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Hampshire, Tennessee and New York