House Panel Approves Bill Killing Conflict Mineral Disclosure

By Andrew Ramonas

A bill repealing the conflict minerals disclosure requirement, as well as other measures addressing corporate governance, capital formation, and Dodd-Frank Act disclosure requirements, was approved Nov. 15 by the House Financial Services Committee.

The conflict minerals legislation ( H.R. 4248), from Rep. Bill Huizenga (R-Mich.), would eliminate a rule that requires companies to report on their use of gold, tin, tantalum, and tungsten from the Democratic Republic of Congo and nearby countries. The Securities and Exchange Commission is reviewing the disclosure requirement, which has received pushback from industry groups for forcing corporations to disclose whether their computer chips, jewelry, and other goods are connected to conflict and human rights abuses. The bill was approved 32-27.

In addition to the conflict materials legislation, the Corporate Governance Reform and Transparency Act ( H.R. 4015), from Rep. Sean Duffy (R-Wis.), would require firms that give investors proxy voting advice to register with the SEC. These firms also would have to disclose their methods and potential conflicts of interest. The measure was approved 40-20.

The Regulation A+ Improvement Act ( H.R. 4263), from Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-N.J.), would allow issuers to sell unregistered securities worth up to $75 million, a $25 million boost from the current $50 million threshold. The SEC adopted 1933 Securities Act Regulation A Plus under the 2012 Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act to help small companies raise capital. The measure was approved 37-23.

The Financial Choice Act ( H.R. 10), which passed the House earlier this year, also would require proxy advisory firm registration, increase the Reg A Plus threshold, and repeal the conflict minerals rule. The legislation was referred to the Senate Banking Committee, where it remains.

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