GOP leaders introduced the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act (JOBS Act) on February 28-- a package of bipartisan bills that will encourage capital formation, and help businesses grow. Several of these bills - which are strongly supported by SBE Council -- have previously advanced in the House on a bipartisan basis. President Obama signaled his support for the initiative. SBE Council is confident these bills will advance in the House, and remains optimistic that the Senate will take action as well. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) announced that the Senate will move forward on these capital access bills, and the Senate Banking Committee is hosting a hearing on March 7.
As SBE Council President & CEO Karen Kerrigan noted in a recent Politico.com article regarding Reid's announcement to move on the bills, "Access to capital continues to be a major struggle for small businesses and entrepreneurs. It is a no-brainer for the Senate to move forward with this package of capital formation bills."
The JOBS Act -- which includes provisions to modernizes existing regulations, update thresholds or provide compliance relief - is bundling the following provisions:
(The following information is provided by Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-VA)
REOPENING AMERICAN CAPITAL MARKETS TO EMERGING GROWTH COMPANIES ACT (H.R. 3606): Approved by Financial Services Committee 54-1
H.R. 3606 reduces the costs of going public by providing companies with a temporary reprieve from Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) regulations by phasing in certain regulations over a five-year period. The bill creates a new category of issuers called an "Emerging Growth Company" (EGC), which would retain its status for five years or until it exceeds $1 billion in annual gross revenue or becomes a large accelerated filer. H.R. 3606 ensures investors are protected by requiring the EGCs to provide audited financial statements as well as establishing and maintaining internal controls over financial reporting.
THE ACCESS TO CAPITAL FOR JOB CREATORS ACT, H.R. 2940: Approved by the House 413-11
H.R. 2940 removes an SEC regulatory ban preventing small businesses from using advertisements to solicit investors. H.R. 2940 allows small companies offering securities under Regulation D to utilize advertisements or solicitation to reach investors and obtain capital. The SEC's ban on solicitation, first adopted in 1982, limits the pool of potential investors and severely hampers the ability of small companies to raise capital and create jobs.
THE ENTREPRENEUR ACCESS TO CAPITAL ACT, H.R. 2930: Approved by the House 407-17
H.R. 2930 removes SEC restrictions that prevent "crowdfund investing" so entrepreneurs can raise equity capital from a large pool of small investors who may or may not be considered "accredited" by the SEC. H.R. 2930 allows companies to pool up to $1 million from investors without registering with the SEC, or up to $2 million if the company provides investors with audited financial statements. Individual contributions are limited to $10,000 or 10 percent of the investor's annual income, whichever is less.
THE SMALL COMPANY CAPITAL FORMATION ACT, H.R. 1070: Approved by the House 421-1
H.R. 1070 makes it easier for small businesses to go public by increasing the offering threshold for companies exempted from SEC registration from $5 million to $50 million. The SEC has the authority to raise this threshold but has not done so for almost two decades. Amending Regulation A to make it a viable channel for small companies to access capital will permit greater investment in these companies, resulting in economic growth and jobs.
THE PRIVATE COMPANY FLEXIBILITY AND GROWTH ACT, H.R. 2167: Approved by Financial Services Committee Voice Vote
H.R. 2167 removes barriers to capital formation for small companies by raising the shareholder registration requirement threshold from 500 to 1,000 shareholders. Many small businesses are forced to file as a public company because of an obscure regulation that requires companies with 499 shareholders and $10 million in assets to file with the SEC. This current shareholder threshold rule was originally adopted in 1964 and has not been modernized since. This regulation restricts the number of shareholders and assets these companies can have. In turn, this severely limits the growth stages for companies, which need time and flexibility to develop.
THE CAPITAL EXPANSION ACT, H.R. 4088: House Version of S. 1941, Referred to Financial Services Committee
H.R. 4088 increases the number of shareholders permitted to invest in a community bank from 500 to 2,000. This bill would enable banks to better deploy their capital to make loans and create jobs rather than comply with burdensome SEC requirements.
It looks like the House will vote on the JOBS Act on March 8, and SBE Council will KEY VOTE this important legislation, as a vote for small business, in its Ratings of the 112 Congress.
Karen Kerrigan, President & CEO