CASPER –When a powerful outgoing Wyoming lawmaker loses, the defeat usually doesn’t make headlines outside the state.
Then again, most lawmakers are not Tyler Lindholm.
After losing his candidacy for re-election as Crook County GOP Vice President Chip Neiman, Lindholm, the House Majority Whip and a booming celebrity in the blockchain and cryptocurrency world , quickly became the subject of articles in Forbes and the publication of the cryptocurrency industry CoinTelegraph. Both publications questioned what the loss of Lindholm meant for a tech sector he played a big role in construction in Wyoming.
“It’s a little wild when Forbes watch out for a little old house run in northeast Wyoming, ”Lindholm said in an interview Monday.
With Lindholm’s help, Wyoming quickly became a leader in the blockchain world. The technology works like a digital book spread out over a computer system. Because the data is kept in many places, it becomes more difficult for someone to hack into the system. This additional security has many uses and is perhaps best known for its role in cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin.
In the past three years, nearly two dozen cryptocurrency and blockchain bills have been passed by the Wyoming Legislature. The major players in the cryptocurrency world – Kraken and IOHK – have announced their intention to move operations and jobs to the state. Meanwhile, a new legislative committee specifically committed to drafting blockchain and tech legislation has started its work and will begin presenting bills for consideration in the next session.
This winter, however, these bills – and the industry they are supposed to support – will no longer have their champion. And instead of Lindholm, others will have to intervene. While Senator Chris Rothfuss, D-Laramie, remains the clear voice of industry in the Senate, Lindholm’s exit creates a significant hole in the House of Representatives.
“He was easily one of the best lawmakers I’ve worked with in my career,” Rothfuss said. “It will be a big loss for the Wyoming legislature not to have him around in various capacities. It is disappointing that the people in his district clearly did not understand what Tyler was bringing to the legislature and the state, and I think they made a big mistake. But we have to move on. “
While first-term representatives Shelly Duncan, R-Torrington, Mike Yin, D-Jackson and Cyrus Western, R-Sheridan have advocated for blockchain technology, the most experienced lawmaker in the blockchain world is probably the representative. Jared Olsen. , R-Cheyenne, who faces a tough re-election battle this fall against Democrat Amy Spieker. And whoever catches the ball will have to work in a chamber with radically different power dynamics than in previous sessions.
“This is innovative and very technological legislation,” said Rothfuss. “And not everyone is excited about an approach that makes Wyoming a leader. We have so many unknowns in the House and Senate as we try to rebuild coalitions that will continue to support blockchain in both chambers.
That said, Rothfuss and industry leaders believe that the Legislature has already done the difficult job of laying the foundation on which to build the industry. As the state begins to see the results of this work in the form of new jobs and new income, Rothfuss said, the Legislature’s drive to pass new legislation is likely to continue, causing few interruptions. in the momentum that has already been built around blockchain technology.
Caitlin Long, a key player in Wyoming’s blockchain and cryptocurrency industries, says the industry has little to recover, noting that most recent tech-related laws have moved forward with veto-proof majorities in the House and Senate.
“Obviously Tyler is a big loss,” Long said. “But most of the work on the blockchain is done. Really, the first two years of legislative sessions in 2018 and 2019 were critical for blockchain bills, and those of 2020 were not as important.
The problem, however, is whether lawmakers are ready to embrace this momentum and embody the vision of a lawmaker who not only understood the blockchain industry, but who was one of its most effective advocates. As lawmakers move beyond the building foundations of the tech sector, they now focus on more complex regulations focused on online safety and other sophisticated legislation that will require a nuanced spokesperson in the House to push them through. – beyond the finish line.
“This is where I have concerns about moving forward,” Rothfuss said. “Without Tyler’s ability to really understand all the pieces in place, all the stakeholders and their interests and his position to communicate clearly with those stakeholders, I hope someone else will take that role and bring these threads together. . Tyler did.
When he leaves the legislature, Lindholm will have to find a new role to play. It is not yet clear what that will look like as its special committee on blockchain, financial technology and digital innovation begins rolling out its 2021 legislative agenda this winter.
“I will definitely always be advocating for a strong policy to help create opportunities for these businesses to grow in the state,” Lindholm said. “As for that role – whether as a hobby or professionally – I don’t know. But I’ll always be a voice to make sure we continue to attract new business. Because we desperately need these new businesses. “
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