Illinois Lawmakers Create Subcommittee to Advance Blockchain Agenda

The Illinois House of Representative has approved the formation of a subcommittee that is to lead research into blockchain use cases within the state government.

The Illinois House of Representatives has reportedly created a subcommittee in the state’s General Assembly to study the potential of blockchain technology in the context of state government. 

The subcommittee, which will be led by Democrat Mike Zalewski, is expected to meet within several weeks. It will work with the Illinois Department of Innovation & Technology to determine how the distributed ledger technology (DLT) could help update government IT systems. 

The subcommittee was created after the US state researched the technology for about two years. In 2016, local authorities got 22 replies from enterprises interested in different blockchain use cases. Jennifer O'Rourke, deputy director at the Illinois Office of Entrepreneurship Innovation & Technology, was put in charge of the Illinois Blockchain Initiative and is running five blockchain test projects. 

Zalewski said the latest move was the logical outcome of several months of research in the blockchain space.

“We've had a task force that's been enabled now for a few months that studied blockchain and we felt that it was the logical next step to create a subcommittee in the General Assembly. We want to study the issue more and make sure we're doing the right thing to foster the development of the technology,” he told StateScoop. 

According to Zalewski, the subcommittee has the duty to determine what regulations should be implemented to make the technology suitable for use in government structures. He sees legislation as mandatory for pushing DLT from the experimental stages into practical applications within local government. 

Zalewski hopes to see the first law on blockchain emerge “sooner than later.” Whatever final position the subcommittee takes, he foresees a crucial role for DLT in the state of Illinois. 

“The primary benefits of the technology are personal ownership of the data, to be able to track data transparency, and taking old archaic systems and making them a little better and a little leaner,” Zalewski noted.

“You know, we have centralized old systems in government and we have a chance to transfer their data to newer modern systems that control the information flow and that excites me most,” he added. 

Illinois seems to be on the frontline of state blockchain adoption, but the technology is also under consideration at the federal level. In November, we reported that the US Congress was working on legislation focused on the use of DLT by the Department of Defense.