A bill has been weaving its way through the Congressional process and it is one that is due in large part to Crowdfund Insider Senior Contributor Sam Guzik. HR 3784 was introduced into the House Financial Services Committee in October of last year. It received solid bipartisan support, along with an amendment introduced by Maxine Waters, and should continue the process later this year.
Guzik has been speaking, and writing about, the importance of small business for quite some time. He originally broached the subject of a Small Business Advocate some time ago, recognizing the fact that all too frequently small business gets lost in the shuffle and shorted by policy makers and legislators alike.
“2015 was a year of demonstrable progress in easing regulatory barriers for SME’s to have wider access to capital. Witness: final rulemaking for Title III investment crowdfunding, and Regulation A – dubbed by some a mini-IPO. However, this progress was largely not a result not of voluntary action by the SEC. Rather, it was a result of comprehensive federal legislation back in 2012, the JOBS Act, which in many important respects reflected years of repetitive, uniform commentary by small business advocates. In fact, much of this commentary had been formalized repeatedly over the years in recommendations to the SEC at its annual government-small business forum, an event mandated by federal legislation dating back to 1980 gathering small business stakeholders. “
“When it comes to small business and Washington, external pressure, typically in the form of lobbying groups, has been largely ineffective for providing relief to SME’s, particularly when it comes to expanding access to our capital markets.”
HR 3784 was joined by a related bill HR 4168 at the end of the year. HR 4168 seeks to bring greater accountability to the annual SEC Small Business Forum. An event Guzik has described in the past as “Ground Hog Day”. Like clockwork, the SEC organizes the forum each fall. Statements are made. Committees convened and recommendations submitted. But too frequently little, if anything, comes of the effort.
“HR 3784, with 10 co-sponsors, was voted out of Committee unanimously, and HR 4168 voted to the House floor with but a single “no” vote,” said Guzik. “Yet it took ages before these initiatives ever reached a stage of a formal proposal in Washington. Had it not been for the very public remarks of then SEC Daniel M. Gallagher calling for an office of small business advocate and the need for the Commission to respond to the recommendations made by participants in the SEC’s annual small business forum, it is doubtful that either of these bills would have seen the light of day in 2015 – and long overdue at that.”
“So the question then becomes: will this new legislation really move the needle for SME’s at the SEC and in Congress? Well, I am quite confident that Congress heard the call to action from now former SEC Commissioner Dan Gallagher back in 2014 when he sat on the Commission. So I am quite confident that if the right people occupy the Office of Small Business Advocate, then with a focused voice and mission, and the direct ear of Congress, the SEC’s Small Business Advocate will be a highly effective voice for SME’s in Washington.”
The 2016 legislative calendar is just commencing but if early committee support is indicative of broader Congressional acceptance these two bills may soon become law.