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US Securities and Exchange Commission

House Bill Would Add Rural Companies to SEC’s Small Business Advocate’s Mission

Bill Flook  Editor, Accounting and Compliance Alert

Bill Flook  Editor, Accounting and Compliance Alert

A bipartisan House bill would direct the SEC’s Office of the Advocate for Small Business Capital Formation (OASB) to expand its focus to include rural small businesses.

Rep. Cindy Axne, an Iowa Democrat, introduced H.R. 5128, the Expanding Access to Capital for Rural Job Creators Act, on August 31, 2021, alongside four cosponsors: Democratic Reps. Cheri Bustos of Illinois, Chris Pappas of New Hampshire, and Al Lawson of Florida, and Republican Rep. Alexander Mooney of West Virginia. Axne and Bustos are co-chairs of the Rural Reinvestment Task Force, created by the centrist New Democrat Coalition.

As chair of that task force, Axne said in a statement she’s “committed to ensuring systems set up to help our innovators don’t leave rural areas behind.”

“That’s why I’m pushing to see this bipartisan legislation pass this Congress – to help not just our rural entrepreneurs, but the communities and local economies they support,” she said.

Axne has worked for years to advance the measure, which was part of the House’s “Jobs Act 3.0” package that passed the House in 2018 but stalled in the Senate. A standalone version of the measure also passed the House in 2019.

The bill would amend the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 to add “rural-area small businesses” to the areas where the OASB must identify problems small businesses have with securing access to capital. That list already includes minority- and women-owned small businesses and those affected by hurricanes or other natural disasters. The bill also directs the OASB to summarize the most series issues encountered by rural businesses in its annual report.

The SEC Small Business Advocate Act of 2016 created the OASB as well as a new advisory panel — the Small Business Capital Formation Advisory Committee — to generate recommendations on capital formation issues for private businesses and publicly traded companies with less than $250 million in market value.

The SEC in late 2018 named Martha Legg Miller, an Alabama-based attorney and start-up company advocate, as director of the OASB. Miller has remained OASB director through the transition from former Chairman Jay Clayton to current Chair Gary Gensler.

 

This article originally appeared in the September 3, 2021 edition of Accounting & Compliance Alert, available on Checkpoint.

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