Covering the technology, people, and culture of the cryptocurrency and blockchain world

Ohio’s dream of becoming a blockchain-friendly state close to being a reality

An amendment to a bill means all that’s needed is Gov. John Kasich’s signature

Ohio state capitol

Ohio state capitol building in Columbus (via Shutterstock).

Ohio’s bid to become an American blockchain haven got a big boost by the state’s legislature this week.

Matt Dolan

Ohio Sen. Matt Dolan (via Ohio Senate).

As reported earlier, a bill proposed by Sen. Matthew Dolan (R-Chagrin Falls) in the Ohio Senate would allow smart contracts using blockchain technology to carry the weight of a signature. S.B. 300 was and remains in committee.

However, it may no longer be necessary to pass that bill separately. That’s because an amendment to another bill (S.B. 220), passed by both Ohio’s Senate and the House of Representatives on Wednesday night, means all that’s needed is Gov. John Kasich’s signature to make it law, which is expected to happen.

As the amendment to S.B. 220 reads:

“A record or contract that is secured through blockchain technology is considered to be in an electronic form and to be an electronic record.”

“A signature that is secured through blockchain technology is considered to be in an electronic form and to be an electronic signature.”

S.B. 220 was originally written to offer some legal protection for businesses that implemented certain cybersecurity measures but were hacked anyway.

With the new amendment, the “long title” of S.B. 220 now reads:

“To amend sections 1306.01 and 3772.01 and to enact sections 1354.01, 1354.02, 1354.03, 1354.04, and 1354.05 of the Revised Code to provide a legal safe harbor to covered entities that implement a specified cybersecurity program, to allow transactions recorded by blockchain technology under the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act, and to alter the definition of ‘key employee’ under the Casino Gaming Law.”

While the wording seems simple, the ambition behind the amendment isn’t. It can turn smart contracts into legal contracts in Ohio, similar to what happened in Arizona a few months ago. The hope is that the Buckeye State will attract a few cutting-edge tech companies and startups away from the places like Silicon Valley or New York.

“We can’t be behind,” said Sen. Dolan to Modern Consensus when S.B. 300 was introduced. “We can’t wait for 40 other states to do it… By that time, any economic generation from being the first to embrace use of this technology is gone.”

Lawrence Lewitinn, CFA is editor in chief of Modern Consensus. Disclosure: Lewitinn owns no cryptocurrencies in his portfolio.