In February, Senate Bill 464 would, if passed, mandate that the state accepts bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies as a form of payment. Other states, including Arizona, are also considering similar proposals.
Yet according to Senator Mike Williams, one of the bill’s sponsors, never got a committee hearing before the Georgia Senate adjourned for its recess on March 29. As a result, he said, the bill will need to be reintroduced during the next legislative session, which starts next January.
Williams attributed the bill’s lack of progress to misconceptions about the technology among lawmakers, telling CoinDesk:
“There was a lack of understanding on what cryptocurrency is, and when I was talking to senators there was that old-school ‘isn’t that what was used to buy drugs?’ [Passing the bill is] going to take educating decision-makers and government regulators on what cryptocurrencies are.”
Williams suggested that holding hearings and other educational events could help lawmakers better understand cryptocurrencies, praising similar events that have taken place at both the state and federal level.
“The more we can talk to legislators and the general public, the more we can educate on the beneficial aspects of blockchain,” he said.
Williams – who is running for governor in Georgia, which holds its vote this November – similarly praised the “cautious” approach being taken by federal regulators, citing recent actions from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission in particular.
“We do need regulation in the [initial coin offering] space but we don’t need too much. We don’t want the regulators to come in and clamp down on the innovation, but at the same time we do need to protect the public from the bad apples,” said Williams. “From what I’ve seen so far, I think they’re taking a very cautious approach [and] I think they’re doing well.”
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