Tags: House | SEC | bill | Dodd-Frank

Financial Services Markup Wrapup

Thursday, 20 Jun 2013 02:12 PM

By Robert Feinberg

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On June 19, the House Financial Services Committee, chaired by Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, met for 4 ½ hours to mark up the four bills that were outlined in Monday's article.

As promised, this article reports the results of the markup and the outlook for further action:

1. H.R. 1564: Audit Integrity and Job Protection Act. This bill, which amends the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, was passed unanimously after considerable debate over an amendment offered by Maxine Waters, D-Calif., who said she wanted to find a way to support the independence of the Public Company Accounting and Oversight Board while still supporting the view that the agency need not move to impose a rotation of auditors on all public companies.

The amendment, agreed to by a voice vote, provides for the Government Accountability Office to update its 10-year-old study of the potential effects of mandatory rotation, including the costs and benefits, no later than a year after enactment of the bill. The update would include a study of the effects of rotation on mitigating potential conflicts of interest, whether rotation would impair audit quality, what the effect might be on independence of the audit firms and whether additional independence reforms are needed. A provision to sunset this bill after five years was deleted.

2. H.R. 1105: Small Business Capital Access and Job Preservation Act. This bill, which would exempt most private equity funds from having to register with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on the ground that the compliance cost diverts money from job creation, passed by a recorded vote of 38-18.

An amendment offered by Nydia Velazquez, D-N.Y., to require funds to register if they take advantage of the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act's liberalized solicitation rules, was rejected by a recorded vote of 24-28.

An amendment by Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., to limit the exemption to funds with assets between $150 million and $1 billion was withdrawn. Another Maloney amendment to provide for simplified registration and disclosure by investment advisers to funds of between $150 million and $1 billion was rejected by a recorded vote of 26-30.

3. H.R. 1135: Burdensome Data Collection Relief Act. Passed by a recorded vote of 36-21, this bill would repeal sec. 953(b) of the Dodd-Frank Act, which requires public companies to include with each SEC filing a disclosure of the ratio of the compensation of the CEO to that of the employees, as well as the numerator and denominator.

Proponents argue that this information is costly and difficult to calculate and provides no material benefit to investors, and it could lead to a proliferation of demands for extraneous disclosures.

An amendment offered by Waters proposed to simplify the disclosure requirement by reducing the burden to annual filing, applying it only to domestic compensation and providing a definition of "median compensation," but it was rejected by a recorded vote of 26-31.

4. H.R. 2374: Retail Investor Protection Act. This bill to interpose the SEC as a barrier to the adoption by the Department of Labor under Employee Retirement Income Security Act of a fiduciary standard opposed by investment advisers passed by a recorded vote of 44-13.

Proponents argue that retail investors would suffer if the compliance burden caused investment advisers to withdraw from the business, which could have the unintended effect of limiting access of investors to attractive investment opportunities.

The bill includes a set of requirements for the SEC to follow in its rulemaking, and provides that the Labor Department must wait until 60 days after the SEC adopts a final rule before proceeding with its own rulemaking.

An amendment offered by Waters to impose an annual fee on investment advisers to defer the cost of inspections and examinations was ruled non-germane.

An amendment offered by Maloney to strike the conditions imposed on the SEC's rulemaking was rejected by a recorded vote of 26-31.

Then an amendment offered by Patrick Murphy, D-Fla., to strike only the duplicative cost/benefit analysis requirement was agreed to by a voice vote.

It looks like the plan is to bring these bills to the House floor before the July 4 recess. This markup followed a consistent pattern of Democrats losing most of the amendments by close votes, then giving up some votes to the Republicans on final passage.

The ultimate prospects for the bills depend on the proponents' ability to recruit co-sponsors on the Senate and persuade the Senate to act on them.

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