north carolina

Is this North Carolina Congressman hawking Bitcoin?

Sometime last week, Neeraj K. Agrawal, the communications director for the DC-based cryptocurrency think tank Coin Center, tweeted a link to an empty website: whitehouse.gov/bitcoin.pdf.

The idea he was trying to convey, in Internet speak, is that hopefully, one day we can look forward to the day when the Bitcoin whitepaper would be hosted on the White House’s website.

That would signal that the executive branch has endorsed elements of the cryptocurrency, and hosted the fundamental founding document to build confidence in the government using Bitcoin as a unit of currency.

That’s futuristic, crypto-fueled optimism that was nothing but a cheeky tweet in that moment.

Taking that to the next level, tech investor and entrepreneur Balaji Srinivasan put forward a challenge: which forward-thinking country or US state would host the Bitcoin white paper on their main domain?

Enter North Carolina Congressman Patrick McHenry.

U.S. Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC)

Hailing from Gastonia, a town I once worked in as a newspaper reporter, McHenry represents the 10th district in the northwestern part of the state, home to NASCAR drivers, the mighty Catawba River, and stretching to the stunning Blue Ridge Mountains.

He once represented part of Gaston County in the State House and was later elected to Congress as one of the youngest congressmen in 2004.

As the ranking member on the Financial Services Committee, McHenry has often been involved in regulatory debates and discussions on cryptocurrencies and financial projects, including Facebook’s Libra project.

At least in previous statements and letters, McHenry usually joined hands with his Democratic colleagues to oppose any competition to the US dollar, as we’ve noted in past press releases.

However, it seems McHenry is changing his tune on the future of innovation in the cryptocurrency space.

On Wednesday, he took on the challenge originally posted by Agrawal and followed by Srinivasan: he posted the Bitcoin whitepaper to his own website.

Not only that, but he stated that “policymakers should be on the side of innovation and ingenuity, which are vital to American competitiveness,” and urged his colleagues to join him.

Is this North Carolina Republican Congressman hawking Bitcoin? It seems the answer is yes.

Looking into it more, he’s grown more bullish on Bitcoin and tech-related financial services in the last two years and even clarified his position on why projects like Libra do not represent a true cryptocurrency.

Appearing on series of podcasts, including one with fellow Republican Congressman Dan Crenshaw, McHenry has been more vocal on why Bitcoin’s technology is like nothing before, and in fact, represents the future of financial and digital services.

And top it off — he posted the Bitcoin whitepaper on the congressional web server!

If McHenry’s statements are true, and if he is using his position as a Financial Services committee member to advance those ideas, I think we may have a consumer champion congressman to follow in the next two years.

As a fellow North Carolinian and advocate for consumer-friendly policies, I have been critical toward McHenry’s various positions in the past, specifically on legitimizing financial services for cannabis-related companies.

I believe the exact tagline I used was “The North Carolina Republican singlehandedly blocking progress on cannabis banking“.

Obviously, McHenry’s ideas and policies are more nuanced and deserve a closer look. I look forward to him expounding on that much more. So while we may not agree on cannabis banking, there still could be much to agree on with the congressman.

If more politicians in DC and various statehouses approached this issue like McHenry, perhaps our governments would be better vehicles for fostering innovation and helping grow consumer choice.

Kudos to you, Rep. McHenry.

Yaël Ossowski is deputy director of the Consumer Choice Center

Consumers and Bar/Restaurant Owners say “YES” to HB 536

CONTACT:

Yaël Ossowski
Deputy Director
@yaeloss

Consumers and Bar/Restaurant Owners say “YES” to HB 536

The Consumer Choice Center endorses a safe and timely return to business for areas with a lower risk for coronavirus outbreak

Raleigh, N.C. – Yesterday, the NC State Senate passed HB 536, the bill intended to safely re-open bars and restaurants in accordance with the guidelines set by both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.

Yaël Ossowski, Deputy Director of the Consumer Choice Center said:

“Giving business owners the legal means to safely open and serve customers is now a necessity,” said Ossowski. “Establishments in high-risk areas should be advised to remain closed until health authorities say otherwise, but that decision must be with business owners.

“We all recognize the risks from the spread of COVID-19, but we must now trust that both owners of bars and restaurants and consumers will be responsible and follow the guidelines set by state and federal authorities.

“A one-size-fits-all approach for the entire state, in which cities and counties face all the same restrictions despite differing numbers of cases, is no longer tenable after more than two months of lockdown,” said Ossowski.

“This bill includes provisions for reopening safely in both outdoor and inside spaces, as well as endorsing modernized alcohol policy that favors all consumers and residents of North Carolina. Gov. Cooper should sign this bill and give North Carolinians renewed confidence to safely re-engage in commerce.”

“The Legislature should also look to make permanent changes to our alcohol laws to better empower consumers and offer them more choice. Loosening restrictions on how food and drink establishments can serve, offer, and deliver their products should be immediately taken into consideration,” said Ossowski.

More about our policies for Modernized Alcohol Policies here.

***CCC Deputy Director Yaël Ossowski is available to speak with accredited media on consumer regulations and consumer choice issues. Please send media inquiries HERE.***

The Consumer Choice Center is the consumer advocacy group supporting lifestyle freedom, innovation, privacy, science, and consumer choice. The main policy areas we focus on are digital, mobility, lifestyle & consumer goods, and health & science.

Last Call should be extended for all consumers, not just politicians

CONTACT:
Yaël Ossowski
Deputy Director
@YaelOss
yael@consumerchoicecenter.org

Last Call should be extended for all consumers, not just politicians

Charlotte, NC – Yesterday it was reported that North Carolina Republicans have introduced a provision that would allow bars, clubs, and restaurants to stay open until 4 AM during the 2020 Republican National Convention.

Consumer Choice Center Deputy Director Yaël Ossowski responded to the news stating that extending the hours that facilities can serve alcohol shouldn’t just be a temporary measure for big city political conventions, but should instead be allowed statewide from here on out.

“What message are we sending about consumer choice if we only pass modern alcohol policies when a party comes to town,” asked Ossowski.

“Giving business owners the permanent option of staying open later to serve customers would provide the exact same economic benefits state legislators are touting about temporarily giving business owners that option in August 2020 during the RNC.

“Extending the time for ‘Last Call’ would be up to the individual businesses, and would be a huge boon for modernization of our state’s alcohol policy. Not only would clubs, bars, and restaurants have more flexibility, but consumers would also have a bigger range of options to choose from, and that could finally provide an incentive to lawmakers to update our state’s antiquated alcohol laws.

“Bringing North Carolina into the 21st Century when it comes to alcohol policy should be a priority for state legislators, and that is something that should be embraced for all North Carolina residents, not just when the RNC comes to Charlotte,” said Ossowski.

The Consumer Choice Center is the consumer advocacy group supporting lifestyle freedom, innovation, privacy, science, and consumer choice. The main policy areas we focus on are digital, mobility, lifestyle & consumer goods, and health & science.

The CCC represents consumers in over 100 countries across the globe. We closely monitor regulatory trends in Ottawa, Washington, Brussels, Geneva and other hotspots of regulation and inform and activate consumers to fight for #ConsumerChoice. Learn more at consumerchoicecenter.org.

Two big victories for consumer choice and modernized alcohol policy

The warm months are delivering some great news when it comes to increased consumer choice and modernized alcohol policy across North America.

ONTARIO

The first success story comes from the Canadian province of Ontario, where Premier Doug Ford has announced the end of the province’s exclusive contract with The Beer Store, the beer monopoly.

When announcing the policy, Ontario Finance Minister Victor Fedeli quoted the words of Consumer Choice Center North American Affairs Manager David Clement, who has contributed to the debate to open up beer sales across the province.

This positive move comes on the same day the government announced it would be expanding alcohol sales in LCBO stores across the province, after which Clement says “consumers across the province would appreciate more access to alcoholic drinks over the summer months.

The Consumer Choice Center played a pivotal role is shaping the policy debate in favor of modernized alcohol policy and consumer choice, and will continue to do so across the country.

“Today’s alcohol announcement is a step in the right direction,” said David Clement. “The move helps underserved regions, while maxing out the amount of grocery stores allowed under the Master Framework Agreement (MFA). It is positive to see these changes while the province undergoes the process of scrapping the MFA and allowing for alcohol sales in convenience stores.”

“We are hopeful that the announcement could increase access over the summer months, which would definitely be appreciated by consumers province-wide.” said Clement.

NORTH CAROLINA

Following the positive vibes from the Great White North, the state of North Carolina also had a major alcohol policy modernization pass.

Last Thursday Gov. Roy Cooper signed House Bill 363, the Craft Beer Distribution and Modernization Act. The law will allow craft brewers to self-distribute more than twice was allowed previously without a wholesaler.

That measure will allow breweries to expand and ship more product across the state, giving North Carolina consumers greater access to their favorite craft brews.

I have written about this topic for the Charlotte Observer (here and here) and been interviewed about it on the radio on the Joe Catenacci Show and the Chad Adams Show.

Much like above, there is still a lot that needs to be done to have a true modern alcohol policy in the Tar Heel State. Ending the state’s monopoly of ABC stores (that sell liquor) would be prime, and the next would be allowing distilleries to offer and sell their products on site and for delivery.

Regardless, these are two big victories for consumer choice and modernized alcohol policy, giving consumers more of a say, more choice, and better options!

A North Carolina Republican is singlehandedly blocking progress on cannabis banking

For the 98 percent of Americans who live in states or jurisdictions with some level of cannabis legalization – whether recreational or medical – it is far past the time to have some legitimate banking options. There are now thousands of cannabis-related businesses that buy and sell goods and services, estimated to be worth over […]

Consumer group: It’s high time North Carolina approves legal marijuana

It’s high time North Carolina approves legal marijuana Raleigh, NC – As lawmakers meet in Raleigh this week to negotiate a possible avenue to legalizing medical marijuana, the Consumer Choice Center calls on all parties and policymakers to finally end marijuana prohibition in North Carolina. Charlotte-area native Yaël Ossowski, Deputy Director of the Consumer Choice Center (CCC), said […]

How the Carolinas could suffer from Trump’s tariffs

CHARLOTTE OBSERVER: In the last election and on the global stage, President Donald Trump talked tough on trade. It’s us versus them and we’re losing, he says. Put simply, he views the current trade deficit, when we import more from a country than we export to it, as detrimental to American jobs. Since January, that trade […]

N.C. alcohol rules should join the 21st century

CHARLOTTE OBSERVER: Due to strict N.C. alcohol laws, online merchants such as Amazon can’t stock your favorite wines, craft beers or liquors unless they follow a very strict line of regulations. READ MORE: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/opinion/op-ed/article208148184.html#storylink=cpy

Let’s get real about N.C.’s alcohol laws (including the drinking age)

North Carolina can no longer afford its Temperance-era alcohol laws. Across the state, a new generation of beer entrepreneurs are giving the Tar Heel State some much needed pride.

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