New York Assemblyman Clyde Vanel has introduced proposals in the state legislature for four laws which, if passed, could transform how the State of New York interacts with and views blockchain technology.

The first proposal, NY A08780, would amend the state’s technology law to allow for signatures obtained via blockchain technology to be recognized as valid electronic signatures, and for smart contracts to operate in commerce by defining a record or contract secured through blockchain technology as an electronic record. This is similar to efforts in other states (see, for example, a law recently enacted by Arizona on this issue).

The second, NY A08783, would create a task force to analyze the impact of virtual currencies on the state’s financial markets. One component of this analysis, as noted in the text of the proposed bill, would be the review of the State’s Department of Financial Services’ BitLicense program and its impact on the use of digital currencies. The BitLicense program was established in June 2015, and requires those (a) engaging in virtual currency transmission, (b) storing, holding or maintaining custody or control of virtual currency on behalf of others, (c) buying and selling virtual currency as a customer business, (d) performing exchange services as a customer business, or (e) controlling, administering, or issuing a virtual currency, to obtain a BitLicense. The program has been off to a slow start, and the Department has accumulated a backlog of applications to review due to the initial number of applications filed and the “relatively new nature of the technology.” As of November 28th of this year (the date on which the Department most recently granted a BitLicense), just four companies had been granted a license under the program.

The third, NY A08792, calls for the state board of elections to evaluate how blockchain technology may be used to protect voter records and election results.

The fourth, NY A08793, would create another task force to study how blockchain technology may be used in state recordkeeping, information storage, and service delivery.

We will continue to monitor this proposed New York legislation.