U.S. Senators to SEC Nominee Mary Jo White: JOBS Act/Crowdfunding Rules a Priority

By at 12 March, 2013, 2:25 pm

By Karen Kerrigan-

The Jumpstart our Business Startup Act (JOBS Act) was signed into law by President Barack Obama on April 5, 2012.  I was proud to join several SBE Council members for this important and historic signing at the White House.  Among other important changes to antiquated Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) laws, the JOBS Act makes equity and debt-based crowdfunding legal, and allows ordinary Americans to invest in promising enterprises.

SBE Council hosted our members and leaders in the crowdfunding community for a full day of outreach, education and advocacy on February 19.  Read all about our day; view our “State of Equity-Based Crowdfunding” event; and review the media stories which covered our efforts by clicking here.

Access to capital remains a critical issue for entrepreneurs and small businesses, and the one-year anniversary of the JOBS Act is upon us.  Incredibly, there are still no rules from the SEC that implement the various pieces of the JOBS Act, including the crowdfunding title.

President Obama has nominated Mary Jo White to serve as the next SEC chair.  At her confirmation hearing before the Senate Banking Committee on March 12, multiple Senators made it obvious that JOBS Act implementation must be a top priority when she takes over the reins at the SEC (her approval as Chair is expected).  The importance of getting these rules out of the SEC was a dominant topic at White’s confirmation hearing – hopefully she got the message.

In her prepared statement, White recognized the slow pace of SEC rulemaking, not only with regard to the JOBS Act but also Dodd-Frank.   White said that completion of the rules “must be an immediate imperative for the SEC.”  Not only does the SEC need to get these rules “right” but also “needs to get them done,” she said.

Ranking committee member Senator Mike Crapo (R-ID) said he was “anxious to see [JOBS Act] regs put in place” — White pledged to focus on that from “day one.”

Senator Jerry Moran (R-KS) asked White about her views on crowdfunding, and whether they may influence her rulemaking (Remember the previous Chair?).  White responded that her ideology does not matter because her job is to implement the mandates of the legislation.

White also said she recognizes the investor protections embedded within the crowdfunding title of the legislation.

Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR), author of the Senate crowdfunding legislation, expressed frustration with the pace of rulemaking. “How can the rules not be completed,” he asked, “given passage of the JOBS Act one year ago?”  White responded that she had no idea what was taking so long.

Senator Merkely added that the crowdfunding rules are “important to the economy and need to be on top of the list” regarding what White immediately tackles as SEC Chair.

It was a good day for small business owners and entrepreneurs at White’s  confirmation hearing. The JOBS Act was a central topic of discussion and there was little doubt that implementation of this law must be a priority for White when she assumes the SEC chairmanship.  As a reminder, the Senate passed the JOBS Act with significant bipartisan support (73-26) and the House vote was 380-41.  It is simply amazing that the SEC has tied up this critical piece of legislation that is so important to our economy and small business.

No date yet as to when the committee and full Senate will vote on White’s nomination.

(UPDATE:  Mary Jo White’s nomination was approved by the Senate Banking Committee on March 19, 21-0. Full Senate vote is pending.)

Karen Kerrigan is president & CEO of the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council.



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