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Tyler Lindholm

Kraken: World’s First Digital Bank To Open in Wyoming

in News/Business

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Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

The world’s first bank dedicated to handling digital assets will open in Wyoming with state approval of an application to open a “Special Purpose Depository Institution.”

Kraken, a company that specializes in the purchase, sale and trade of digital currencies such as Bitcoin, won unanimous approval from the Wyoming State Banking Board on Wednesday to open a bank for the holding and trading of digital currencies.

The SPDI, to tentatively be called Kraken Financial, is the first of its kind to win bank charter recognition from both state and federal regulators, the company said in a news release.

The bank will be headquartered in Cheyenne and will provide comprehensive services for holders of digital assets, the company said, such as accepting deposits and allowing its customers to use their digital assets to pay bills, trade for other currencies or make investments.

Kraken described the bank as a bridge between “cryptocurrencies” and traditional economic systems.

In announcing the Banking Board’s approval, David Kinitsky, Kraken Financial’s CEO, praised Wyoming’s Legislature for making the changes to state banking laws needed to allow the handling of digital assets.

“We’re thrilled to work in a state so aligned with our philosophy and values,” he said. “Wyoming is a rare and shining example of how thoughtful regulation can drive innovation for (financial technology) companies.”

The company also said that Wyoming is the only place where such a bank could open and be successful.

“Though many regulators talk about fostering innovation, Wyoming is the only state to actually build out this vision in a concrete, commercially viable way,” its news release said.

The news was welcomed by legislators who worked to adjust Wyoming’s banking laws to allow such operations.

“Big news Wyoming!” Rep. Tyler Lindholm, R-Sundance, one of the legislators to work on the law, wrote on his Facebook page. “We just made history this morning. While I know this may seem a little geeky, it is huge news that Wyoming can and has expanded its economy and can now officially be considered a tech State.”

“And we’re off…. Wyoming people asked for economic diversity and THEY HAVE IT,” another advocate of the banking bill, Sen. Ogden Driskill, R-Devils Tower, wrote on his Facebook page. “The first of many tech jobs and dollars for the state.”

Caitlin Long, a Wyoming native recognized as an expert in cryptocurrency and “blockchain banking,” also expressed excitement over the approval in a post on her Facebook page.

“As a (Kraken) shareholder, I’m thrilled, but even more thrilled for Wyoming,” she wrote. “True economic diversification and a big building block for attracting a new tech and financial services industry here.”

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Wyoming Legislators Host Lunch For Disabled Vets at Devils Tower

in News/Sturgis

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Crook County legislators Ogden Driskill and Tyler Lindholm on Friday hosted lunch for a group of 20-plus disabled veterans who were on their way to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.

The bikers were riding from Utah to Sturgis and were affiliated with the Veterans Charity Ride (VCR) group — a nonprofit organization that provides programs specifically designed to assist wounded and amputee combat veterans.

“As a veteran myself, I’m a big supporter of fellow veterans,” Lindholm said. “It is always good to lend a helping hand to some fellow and brothers in arms.”

Lindholm, R-Sundance, said the group had lunch at the KOA Campground and then toured the Devils Tower monument.

“They were in great spirits. It was a great honor for me to spend time with them,” he said.

Driskill, R-Devils Tower, who owns the KOA Campground, said he and Lindholm volunteered to sponsor the lunch when he heard the veterans were going to be riding through.

“We love vets and combat-wounded vets are in a special category of their own,” Driskill said.  “Our country is here because of them.”

The senator said the lunchtime discussion was focused on their bikes, the travels they made so far, and the upcoming celebration at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.

“It sure makes you feel good to do something for these people,” he said. “They were excited to be here in Wyoming and they looked forward get to being in Sturgis for a full week.”

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Legislators: Wyoming Tops in the Nation For Re-Opening Business

in News/Coronavirus

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In contrast to a group of Republican legislators who criticized Gov. Mark Gordon’s reactions to the coronavirus pandemic, two lawmakers from northeastern Wyoming said Wyoming is further ahead in opening businesses than any other state in the nation.

Sen. Ogden Driskill, R-Devils Tower and Rep. Tyler Lindholm, R-Sundance took to YouTube on Thursday to discuss the governor’s most-recent health orders and why they put Wyoming ahead of the pack nationally.

“As it stands tomorrow, the State of Wyoming will be farther ahead than any state in the nation in regards to relaxing [public health] orders,” Lindholm said. “Farther than any state and that includes South Dakota. South Dakota is going to be behind us.”

South Dakota has been singled out by the national media as the state that has most strenuously resisted statewide “stay-at-home” or “shelter-in-place” orders. However, there is little — if any — difference between the policies of South Dakota and those of Wyoming.

Wyoming officials closed only schools, businesses likely to draw more than 10 people and businesses providing personal services, such as hair salons and tattoo parlors. Its leaders never ordered a closure of “non-essential” businesses or ordered people to remain in their homes.

On Tuesday, Gordon and Dr. Alexia Harrist, the state’s health officer, announced that gyms and businesses providing personal services will be allowed to open Friday.

Seven Republican members of the Legislature, in an open letter to Gordon, asked why it made sense to let some businesses open, but leave restrictions in place for others and continue to limit gatherings to 10 people or fewer.

Driskill and Lindholm, dubbed the “crypto cowboys” because of their work in technology, said people apparently do not understand that businesses can apply for for an exemption to the restrictions that are still in place.

Driskill said because the governor “kicked it down to the county level”, businesses have the freedom to apply for exemptions.

“That’s the exciting news, “Lindholm said. “You own a restaurant or a bar, you can put in an exemption with your county health officer right now,”

He said as long as businesses show how they will keep the restaurant clean, have a plan in place for social distancing and agree to screen patrons, they can work with their county public health officer to get an exemption.

The state has said that county health officers can ask for an exemption to the state health orders to allow specific businesses to open or for a county-wide variance from the orders to allow all of the businesses in a certain category to open.

Lindholm said the public health officer from Weston county is working with county commissioners and local officials to submit such a plan.

“This is great,” Lindholm said.  “This is Gov. Gordon recognizing that Crook County and Weston County damn sure don’t look like Teton and Laramie counties.” 

“This is a really good opportunity and I hope our counties take advantage of that,” Driskill said.  “We don’t have the cases up here.”

Both cautioned that in order for the rules to continue to be relaxed, Wyoming citizens need to follow public health guidelines like social distancing.

“The models keep getting destroyed because of the actions of the people of Wyoming,” Lindholm said.

“Wyoming has done a phenomenal job of flattening the curve,” Driskill said. “Assuming we continue to follow these practices, we won’t have new cases. If people ignore the protocols, we will go backwards on this.”

Lindholm did sound a note of caution, however, stating that warmer temperatures should bring more good news for the state but “then winter will come around.”

“By that time, I hope it is a cured situation,” he said.

Lindholm said most of the restaurant and bar owners he spoke to on Wednesday were “pretty pumped” to hear they could apply for an exemption, but not all.

“I did get my ass chewed a couple times,” he said. “I’d rather be just kicking open the doors. I think we can handle this ourselves without any type of restrictions but that’s not the reality that we’re living in.”

“These are just baby steps to get everything open,” Driskill said.  “You will see a lot of things will relax quickly.”

In typical Lindholm fashion, the lawmaker had some fun when concluding the first segment of the YouTube broadcast by reminding people that quarantine orders still exist for out-of-staters.

“If you are some yahoo from Colorado to come in to Wyoming, you still have to quarantine for 14 days and stay the hell away from everybody,” Lindholm said.  “Because we know that Colorado has the coronavirus.”

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Bob Geha: Bill Prohibiting ‘Gun Buybacks’ Wins House Approval

in News/politics
Tyler Lindholm

By Bob Geha, Cowboy State Daily

A bill aimed at prohibiting “gun buybacks” using public money won final approval in the House on Wednesday.

Representatives voted 55-4 to approve House Bill 28, which would prevent any Wyoming government entity from running a “buyback program,” where entities buy weapons to keep them from being used in violent crime.

Bill sponsor Rep. Tyler Lindholm, R-Sundance, said such programs are usually a waste of taxpayer money.

“At the end of the day, it’s somebody with a junk shotgun that they’ll never use, never have any intent of using,” he said. “So it’s just a waste of taxpayer dollars to say that’s somehow taking guns off the street because that gun was never on the street to begin with.”

Lindholm said such programs have not worked well in other states.

“Often times, we as the government, politicians, we like to pretend that everything we create is flowery and it’s all working wonderfully,” he said. “In situations like this, it’s clearly not. In places that do have gun buybacks, they haven’t seen the expected results.”

The bill now moves to the Senate for review.

House kills ‘Defend the Guard Act’

in News/politics

A measure designed to ban the deployment of Wyoming National Guard members without a formal declaration of war failed to clear introduction in the House on Friday.

House Bill 98, sponsored by Rep. Tyler Lindholm, R-Sundance, would have prohibited the deployment of Wyoming guard members into active duty unless Congress had declared war.

The measure was the subject of a news conference Friday during which U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, spoke in support of the bill.

The bill, dubbed the “Defend the Guard Act,” was defeated in a vote of 22-35.

Bill Would Prohibit ‘Gun Buyback’ Programs in Wyoming

in News/politics

By Bob Geha, Cowboy State Daily

A measure that would prohibit governmental entities from running “gun buyback” programs has been filed for consideration by the Legislature during its upcoming session.

House Bill 28 would prohibit any Wyoming government body, including the University of Wyoming, from buying firearms from citizens.

The programs have been used in some large cities around the country in an effort to reduce the number of firearms on the street, however, no such program has been staged in Wyoming.

Bill sponsor Rep. Tyler Lindholm, R-Sundance, said he wants to make sure it is difficult in the future to launch a “buyback” in Wyoming.

“It’s not really a concern right now,” he said. “But if it is ever a concern, where organizations such as governments, whether local or state, are starting to do this … I want to make it as painful as possible for them to be able to peel back our … legislation.”

The measure has supporters among firearms retailers such as Ryan Allen of Cheyenne’s Frontier Arms.

Allen said in such programs, governments often end up paying far more for firearms than they are worth.

“The broken firearms, the inert, the $20 to $35 firearms … they’re paying four to five times what they’re worth,” he said.

Lindholm agreed.

“There will be some people who take advantage of the incompetency of government and bring in grandpa’s old over-and-under (shotgun) that’s been broken for the last 30 years and get $500 for it,” he said.

Both agreed that the more important issue is that of preserving Second Amendment rights.

“In regards to gun violence, the answer’s pretty clear at that point, you should let people defend themselves, let them practice their own God-given right,” Lindholm said.

“Firearms and gun ownership is part of our culture here in Wyoming,” Allen said. “So hopefully that doesn’t change.”

The Legislature’s budget session begins Feb. 10. Because Lindholm’s bill is not related to the budget, it would have to win support from two-thirds of the House to even be considered.

Wyo State Representative: America First Means Bringing Troops Home, Not Starting Another ‘Forever War’

in News/politics
Wyoming State Representative Tyler Lindholm

By Ike Fredregill, Cowboy State Daily

With tensions high in the Middle East, now is the time to increase efforts to bring U.S. troops home, according to a state representative who has been a vocal supporter of ending military involvement in the region.

Following the U.S.-ordered killing of Iranian military commander Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani on Friday, Iran retaliated with two missile strikes Tuesday on military bases housing U.S. troops in Iraq, but no casualties were reported.

“It’s kind of this tit-for-tat game going back and forth, and the only ones that suffer are the troops,” said Rep. Tyler Lindholm, R-Sundance. “If we’re going to be serious about putting Americans first, we need to start bringing home the troops.”

Lindholm, a U.S. Navy veteran, took his anti-war message to Washington D.C. in November as a leading member the Wyoming branch of Bring Our Troops Home (www.wybringourtroopshome.com). 

The non-profit organization was founded with a goal to end “the Forever Wars and encourage Congress … to support President (Donald) Trump’s plan to withdraw our troops.”

But as the U.S. prepares to send 3,000 additional troops to Iraq amid heightened concerns of a war with Iran, Lindholm said continued military action in the Middle East would only serve to hurt future generations of Americans.

“I do believe these actions are a divergence from Trump’s previous message,” he said. “I liked that Trump was kind of known for not listening to some of his intelligence advisers, but that seems to have changed. Those are the same advisers that got us into this whole quagmire 20 years ago.”

After assassinating Soleimani via drone strike in Baghdad, Iraq, U.S. officials said the strike was meant to prevent an imminent attack on Americans. 

“The current narrative we’re being told is Soleimani operated in Iraq and led terrorist types of organizations,” Lindholm said. “They do seem to have lots of evidence pointing to lots of Americans killed because of Soleimani’s actions, but (in the early 2000s) they also had lots of evidence pointing toward lots of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.”

While some top officials have labeled Soleimani a terrorist for his role in overseeing extremist militia groups’ recruitment and training, Lindholm said the U.S. has a different term for engaging in similar activities.

“When it’s used against us, it becomes terrorism,” he explained. “When we do it, we’re teaching ‘freedom fighters.’ I think it’s a fine line.”

Lindholm said the U.S. has been involved in the funding or training of many militant groups throughout the last several decades.   

“I think it speaks to the larger issue in the U.S.’s current foreign policy of heavy interventionism,” he said. “I’m not saying the U.S. shouldn’t protect our interests, but a lot of what is currently being seen and what we’ve experienced in the last 20 years could arguably be called blowback over our interventionism.”

Going forward, the U.S. should rely more on diplomacy and economic sanctions than military force, Lindholm said.  

“I gotta hope this is over,” he added. “There’s been shown no benefit to the American people from these types of actions in the past or as it currently stands.” 

Recent events deepened the rift between Republicans and Democrats, and in some cases, party members returned to more traditional stances on America at war.

“The anti-war left has suddenly shown up again,” he explained. “A lot of my Republican friends are screaming, ‘Bomb them.’ When has that ever worked, besides losing more American lives?”

Soleimani’s killing and Iran’s retaliation could lead to a bipartisan effort to reduce the executive powers of the Authorization for Use of Military Force set in place in 2001 and used to justify actions throughout the Middle East, including Syria.

“I think think the silver lining to all this is people, left and right, will start to want an end and hopefully work toward it,” Lindholm said.

Since Soleimani’s death, both Rep. Liz Cheney and Sen. John Barrasso issued statements in support of the president and the actions of his administration against Iran.

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