SEC Agenda Includes Resource Extraction, Omits Proxy Advisers

By Yin Wilczek  

May 28 — The Securities and Exchange Commission has put resource extraction rulemaking back on its regulatory agenda, targeting issuing a proposal by March 2015.

The SEC's spring 2014 regulatory flexibility agenda—published May 27—also suggests that finalization of the commission's money market mutual fund revisions is imminent.

Moreover, the commission included several new items for the first time in the agenda, including recommendations from staff that it seek public input to evaluate the listing and trading of exchange-traded products and the regulatory framework for transfer agents.

Meanwhile, although there were no real surprises in the rule list, what was omitted—including action on proxy advisers—took some observers by surprise.

The SEC—in a March notice soliciting comments on the agenda—said the information included in the agenda was accurate as of March 21.

Unified Agenda

Twice a year, federal agencies are required by the Regulatory Flexibility Act to submit a list of significant rulemaking items they expect to pursue over the next 12 months for inclusion in the Office of Management and Budget Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs' unified agenda.

However, some commentators have described the rule lists as “aspirational” rather than actual, and the agencies aren't precluded from acting on matters not included in their lists.

As in prior years, the SEC indicated that its rulemaking this year and extending into March 2015 is dominated by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act and the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act. According to its agenda, the commission plans by October to finalize its pay ratio rule and propose executive compensation requirements called for by the financial overhaul statute. In the same time frame, the agency also plans to finalize its proposed Regulation D amendments and its crowdfunding and Regulation A Plus frameworks.

Proxy Advisers

As to items left off the agenda, Keir Gumbs, a Washington-based partner at Covington & Burling LLP and a former counsel to SEC Commissioner Roel Campos, told Bloomberg BNA it was “striking” that the SEC didn't mention any action on proxy advisers.

The omission is “surprising given how much focus that topic has gotten from the SEC and from its constituencies, and yet it still doesn't seem to be an action item for the SEC in the near term,” Gumbs said.

In March, SEC Chairman Mary Jo White said she expected very soon to receive specific recommendations from her staff as to next steps on proxy advisory firms.

The SEC in December 2013 held a roundtable on the subject.

To contact the reporter on this story: Yin Wilczek in Washington at ywilczek@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Phyllis Diamond at pdiamond@bna.com

The SEC's regulatory flexibility agenda is available at http://www.reginfo.gov/public/ do/eAgendaMain?operation= OPERATION_GET_AGENCY_ RULE_LIST&currentPub=true& agencyCode=&showStage=active& agencyCd=3235.

The SEC notice soliciting comment on its regulatory flexibility agenda is available at http://www.sec.gov/rules/other/2014/33-9563.pdf.

The SEC's long-term actions are available at http://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/eAgendaMain?operation= OPERATION_GET_AGENCY_ RULE_LIST&currentPubId=201404 &showStage=longterm&agency Cd=3235.