BENEFITS BYTE

July 9, 2004
BB 04—77

In this issue:

  • Additional Materials Now Available on Education and Workforce Committee Cash Balance Hearing
  • Commerce Subcommittee Holds Hearing on Stock Option Expensing

Additional Materials Now Available on Education and Workforce Committee Cash Balance Hearing

As we reported in the July 7 Benefits Byte, the full House Education and the Workforce Committee held a hearing on July 7 to discuss the issues and controversies surrounding cash balance pension plans. At this hearing, the committee heard testimony from James M. Delaplane, Jr., special counsel to the Council and a partner with the Benefits Group of Davis and Harman LLP. In addition, Ellen Collier of Eaton Corporation testified at the hearing on behalf of the Coalition to Preserve the Defined Benefit System, joining Delaplane in skillfully articulating the employer message to the committee.

The testimony of all the witnesses is now available on the committee's Web site, along with a copy of Chairman John Boehner's (R-OH) opening statement. A press release prepared by the committee and an archived Webcast of the hearing are also available.

For more information, contact Diann Howland, Council vice president, retirement policy, at (202) 289-6700.

Commerce Subcommittee Holds Hearing on Stock Option Expensing

The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection held a hearing July 8 regarding stock option expensing. Witnesses discussed both the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) proposal to expense options as well as the Stock Option Accounting Reform Act (H.R. 3574) which has been approved by the House Financial Services Committee.

H.R. 3574 would require expensing for the top five executives of a company but not for stock options provided to other employees. The bill had been expected to come up for a vote of the entire House of Representatives on July 9 but jurisdictional issues arose (whether the Commerce or Financial Services committee was the appropriate body to consider the bill before it was brought to a vote of the full House). The Financial Services Committee decided not to proceed and the vote was pulled from the House floor schedule. Two witnesses spoke in favor of the FASB proposal and against H.R. 3574, while the other two witnesses spoke in favor of H.R. 3574 and against the FASB proposal.

A detailed summary of the hearing is available on the Council Web site. For more information, contact Jan Jacobson, Council director, retirement policy, 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.