It took until just before Memorial Day, but apropos timing as the House Financial Services Committee, on May 22, officially approved 11 bills to help small businesses with capital formation and growth. Many on the Hill are fashioning this group of bills JOBS Act 2.0, as a natural follow to the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act of 2012 which provided significant relief to emerging growth companies while maintaining investor protections.
Unfortunately, unlike the original JOBS Act, which made it through Congress with wide bipartisan support, these committee votes were more heavily on party lines, with the Republican-controlled committee carrying the day. For example, the bill to reduce Rule 144 holding periods, including those following a reverse merger, passed by a slim 29-28 majority. Rep. Ann Wagner’s important bill to expand the availability of “shelf” registrations to all reporting companies had a bit wider margin, at 32-26. Another bill to simplify the public disclosure regime and add a summary page to SEC filings did pass with no Democrat objections.
All that said, the bills have indeed passed committee and this was a herculean effort on behalf of the hard-working staffs of the sponsors of these bills and the committee. Let me pass my own personal kudos to my friends on the Hill on this important step in the “I’m Just a Bill” process. No one really expects these bills to be taken up before the election in November, but we can certainly hope! Much will depend on the results of that election and whether control of either House of Congress changes or strengthens. Even if nothing changes in the balance of power in Congress, one hopes, much as with JOBS 1.0, both parties will be able to recognize the importance of fueling the primary engine of our economy, smaller businesses, to indeed jumpstart our still anemic economy and overregulated businesses.
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