A bill aimed at getting the state of Utah to accept bitcoin for states services passes its first reading in the Senate.

The bill has now passed its first Senate reading having already passed through the House of Representatives with a slim majority of 38 Yes votes against 36 No's.

Utah state representative Marc K. Roberts introduced the proposal, Bill H.C.R 6, to the Clerk of the House of Representatives on February 10.

The bill states in its general description that its aim is to look into how the state could accept bitcoin, specifically:

“This concurrent resolution of the Legislature and the Governor proposes the creation of the Council on Payment Options for State Services to study whether and how the state could accept bitcoin as a valid form of payment.”

The wording of the bill, however means that even if the senate approves the motion on its second and third readings, then the question of whether it is feasible for the state to accept bitcoin for payment of state services remains in the hands of an investigating “Council on Payment Options.”

Following the proposed legislation's arrival at the state's senate though, the Senate  Revenue and Taxation Committee have already given the bill their nod of approval by three votes in favor to one opposed. The outcome of the legislated Council on Payment Options could therefore be equally favorable.

Utah state representative Marc K. Roberts

Roberts though appears to believe the benefit of Bitcoin extends beyond the idea of the state saving money on payment processing fees. The representative explains that the bill's text aim to lay out a greater vision for how the cryptocurrency could help Utah.

“THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Legislature of the state of Utah, and the Governor concurring therein, recognizes the potential benefits that could come from the expanded use of bitcoin in the state and recognizes that the state could be a key player in promoting the use of bitcoin.”

Salt Lake City based Overstock.com gets a name check in the text of the bill as an example of a bitcoin accepting business thriving in the state. The electronics distributor would be in line to save on its payment processing fees were it able to  directly convert BTC sales on its website into payments for state services.

Utah is one of three US states where politicians are currently fielding legislation aimed at getting the local government to accept Bitcoin payments, alongside New Hampshire, and New York.

Cointelegraph recently reported on the efforts by New Hampshire Representative Eric Schleien to pass bill HR552. Schleien's version of the proposal takes a stronger stance by avoiding the investigative council step, and heading straight to an implementation plan. Bill HR552 is worded that its focus is:

“Requiring the state treasurer to develop an implementation plan for the state to accept bitcoin as payment for taxes and fees.”

Cointelegraph spoke to CEO of Galactic Systems, Mike Lorrey, who ran in for a seat in the New Hampshire House of Representatives in 2014 on a similar pro-cryptocurrency platform.

“I would say it's very useful as far as popular acceptance of bitcoin goes. Once the states have to accept it then the banks will be right behind. It's then that we'll see the price of bitcoin start rising again on a long-term trend.”

With the Utah bill now nearing the completion of its journey through the senate, Bitcoin could receive a legitimizing vote of confidence from the state. 

Utah, House of Representatives

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