Senate Clears Batch of Minor Tweaks to Securities Laws

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By Rob Tricchinelli

The Senate cleared a batch of minor securities bills by unanimous consent late Sept. 11, paving their way for President Donald Trump to sign them into law.

One bill ( S. 327) would make it easier for broker-dealers to release research reports on exchange-traded funds, and another would increase the amount of stock options a company could give to its employees without making a wider set of investor disclosures ( S. 488).

The bills, modest in scope, were part of a March markup that was an early attempt by Senate Banking Committee Chairman Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) to rack up a bipartisan win on financial regulation.

Since then, legislative efforts to overhaul those regulations on a broader scale have taken a backseat to other priorities and have otherwise gotten mired in partisan divisions.

The House passed the Financial Choice Act in June, which would dramatically revamp the Dodd-Frank Act, but that bill would require 60 votes in the Senate. Republicans have a 52-seat majority, and Democrats have shown little appetite for such a broad set of changes, leaving minor tweaks and standalone pieces as the likeliest to become law.

Venture Capital

A third bill passed Sept. 11 would allow more investors to participate in “early-stage” venture capital funds ( S. 444) without those funds being deemed investment companies.

“There is no reason innovation in middle America should fall by the wayside because startups and small businesses lack the same investment opportunities as their competitors on our nation’s coasts,” Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), a sponsor of the venture-capital bill, said in a news release.

Another measure deals with exemptions from securities laws for companies based in U.S. territories ( S. 484), and another still would require the Securities and Exchange Commission to formally respond to the recommendations of its annual Government-Business Forum on Small Business Capital Formation ( S. 416).

The Senate also passed a sixth bill, which would bolster the SEC’s ability to refund overpayments ( S. 462), but it has not yet passed the House.

To contact the reporter on this story: Rob Tricchinelli in Washington at rtricchinelli@bna.com

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

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