Governor John Kasich signed a bill into law on Friday, August 3, 2018, adding Ohio to the list of U.S. states enacting blockchain legislation. Introduced last October and passed by the House at the end of June, SB 220 legally recognizes records or contracts and signatures secured through blockchain technology. Specifically, the bill amends Section 1306.01 of Ohio’s Uniform Electronic Transactions Act, reflecting a “record or contract that is secured through blockchain technology is considered to be in an electronic form and to be an electronic record,” and a “signature that is secured through blockchain technology is considered to be in an electronic form and to be an electronic signature.” This language was incorporated from an earlier bill introduced in May, SB 300, although language legally recognizing smart contracts was cut.
Ohio’s recent statutory adoption follows a growing state-by-state trend. For example, Nevada, Delaware, Tennessee, and Wyoming, among others, have already enacted similar laws relating to authorizing blockchain-based records, and states continue to lead blockchain-friendly legislative initiatives in other contexts, such as establishing regulatory sandboxes and clarifying money transmission laws.
While generally welcomed by the industry, there also is some concern that the state-level legislation makes too many distinctions between technologies and may have additional harmful domino effects. For example, the Electronic Signatures and Records Association (“ESRA”) and the Chamber of Digital Commerce issued a joint statement in April 2018, warning that while state legislation may be well-intentioned, it can lead to redundancies, inconsistencies, and issues with federal preemption.