BENEFITS BYTE

April 9, 2004
BB 04—46

In this issue:

  • SEC Chairman Donaldson Addresses Senate Banking Committee
  • American Benefits Council IN THE NEWS: Pension Interest Rate Vote Coverage Features Council Comments

SEC Chairman Donaldson Addresses Senate Banking Committee

William H. Donaldson, chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), was the sole witness April 8 as the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs concluded its series of hearings on mutual fund issues.

Although Donaldson spoke on a number of issues, he indicated the hard 4:00 p.m. close proposal was the toughest issue facing the SEC, noting that the commission has received more than 1,000 comment letters.  Many of the letters expressed concern about the impact a hard 4:00 p.m. close would have on 401(k) investors and those in earlier time zones (such as West Coast investors) and advocated better controls and tamper-proof time stamping, according to Donaldson.  Donaldson added that the SEC is analyzing the letters and additional information and it may very well turn out that the SEC will adopt a combination of solutions.  Donaldson noted that of all the pending items, this issue may take the most time to formulate a compromise proposal.  He expects most of the proposed rules to be finalized by late summer or early fall but this one may take a little longer.

Banking Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-AL), who had been rumored to be interested in introducing a limited mutual fund bill, asked Donaldson if Congress needed to codify anything for the rulemaking process.  Donaldson indicated there was no need at this juncture and said the SEC would come back to Congress if it became necessary.  Shelby indicated that the committee wants to see what the SEC does and how it works and then will work with the SEC to determine if statutory changes are need.

For more information on this issue, contact Jan Jacobson, Council director, retirement policy, at (202) 289-6700.

American Benefits Council IN THE NEWS: Pension Interest Rate Vote Coverage Features Council Comments

American Benefits Council staff members were quoted in more than 180 newspapers nationwide this past week as the media gave wide coverage to the issue of pension interest rate reform. Following passage on April 2 by the House of Representatives and April 8 by the Senate of the Pension Funding Equity Act (H.R. 3108) the Council was contacted by a number of news organizations seeking our views on how the reform of the 30-year Treasury interest rate would affect retirement plans and the likelihood of the final measure being signed by the president. Council staff, joined by Kent Mason of Davis & Harman, also held a media briefing on April 5 to give reporters additional background information concerning the legislation.

Stories of interest featuring quotes from Council staff were printed in publications including the Akron Beacon Journal, Albany Times Union, Atlanta Journal Constitution, Arizona Republic, Billings Gazette, Biloxi Sun Herald, Boston Globe, Charleston Port Courier, Charlotte Observer, Chicago Tribune, Cincinnati Enquirer, Dallas Morning News, Deseret Morning News, Detroit News, Fort Wayne News Sentinel and Journal Gazette, Fort Worth Star Telegram, Guardian (UK), Hartford Courant, Houston Chronicle, Kansas City Star, Los Angeles Times, Miami Herald, Minneapolis Star Tribune, Newark Star Ledger, New York Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, Rapid City Journal, St. Paul Pioneer Press, St. Petersburg Times, San Diego Union Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, and Wichita Eagle. Of note are:

As other stories of note appear, the Council will keep you informed. For more information about any of these articles, please contact Deanna Johnson Keim, APR, Council director, communications, or Jason Hammersla, Council communications associate. Both can be reached by phone at (202) 289-6700.

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The American Benefits Council is the national trade association for companies concerned about federal legislation and regulations affecting all aspects of the employee benefits system. The Council's members represent the entire spectrum of the private employee benefits community and either sponsor directly or administer retirement and health plans covering more than 100 million Americans.