Lummis touts blockchain during legislative appearance


JACKSON — U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyo., addressed the Wyoming House and Senate on Friday morning, using the platform to advocate for the role the state could play in technological innovation.

Lummis highlighted her push to expand rural broadband, and her role on the Senate Transportation Committee’s Subcommittee on Space and Science. But she went all-in congratulating the Wyoming Legislature for its push to allow and regulate blockchain technology — a digital tech that advocates say can be used to track everything from ownership records of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin to real estate and government records. The value in the blockchain, per McKinsey and Company, is that it “allows information to be verified and value to be exchanged without having to rely on a third-party authority.”

“Because of the really innovative and thoughtful work this Legislature did with regard to ‘Special Purpose Depository Institutions’ and the ability to invest in Bitcoin, you have set Wyoming apart and ahead of every other state and apart and ahead of the United States in efforts to create opportunities for distributed ledger blockchain and especially Bitcoin,” Lummis told the Wyoming House of Representatives.

Lummis spent 14 years in the Wyoming Legislature before going on to serve as the state’s lone representative in the U.S. House from 2009 to 2017. She was elected to the U.S. Senate in November, and now serves on three Senate committees: Environment and Public Works; Commerce, Science and Transportation; and Banking, Housing and Urban Development.

Lummis is a bitcoin investor, and went somewhat viral in February when she edited her profile picture on Twitter to have two glowing, red, robotic eyes. Per The Hill, that was in support of the “#LaserRayUntil100K” meme, a viral craze that saw internet investors change their profile pictures like Lummis did. The changes were intended to support a Bitcoin rally that could bring the price of a coin to $100,000.

Closer to home, the Wyoming Legislature has passed a number of bills regarding blockchain in recent years. It created a standing Select Committee on Blockchain, Financial Technology and Digital Innovation Technology and, most notably, authorized the chartering of “Special Purpose Depository Institutions.” The Legislature created those institutions in part because of a dearth of options for investors in blockchain technology. Most day-to-day banks “are not generally permitted to manage accounts in virtual currency or hold other digital assets,” according to legislative findings.

At least two companies had been approved as SPDIs in Wyoming by the end of 2020, according to the Wyoming Business Report.

Lummis said she has been advocating at the federal level to get Wyoming’s chartered SPDIs “authorized,” and that she has created a “financial innovation caucus” with Sen. Krysten Sinema, D-Ariz., to bolster “Congress’ understanding of Bitcoin and its ability as a store of value to literally save us from ourselves.”

Ever bullish on cryptocurrency, Lummis suggested Bitcoin could even be used to pay down the national debt.

She credited Wyoming legislators for their work, though the federal success of blockchain remains to be seen.

“The work you did on financial innovation is so significant,” Lummis told the Wyoming Senate. “There’s nothing that compares to it in the entire nation, including what the federal government has done.”

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