Legislative Information: Pro-ESOP Bill — S. 1232

Leading up to the Las Vegas Conference and Trade Show, November 3 – 4, 2011, we’ll be posting government affairs information that will be discussed at the Conference. Today, and update on S. 1232.

On June 6, 2011, Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) introduced S. 1232, a bill to modify the definition of fiduciary under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 to exclude appraisers of employee stock ownership plans.  The bill is co-sponsored by Senators Olympia Snowe (R-ME), Susan Collins (R-ME), Scott Brown (R-MA), and Mary Landrieu (D-LA).

This bill is a response to the Department of Labor’s (DOL) proposed anti-ESOP regulation mandating all private ESOP company appraisers be ERISA fiduciaries.  If the proposed regulation were to be finalized as is, there would be extreme confusion over whether the appraiser or the trustee[s] and other current fiduciaries make the decisions about acquisition of shares, and most troubling, would leave private ESOP companies open to lawsuits.

“We’re very pleased to see Senator Ayotte take the lead on this issue,” said ESOP Association President, J. Michael Keeling.  “The DOL needs to wake up to the fact that private company ESOPs have tremendous positive records of creating jobs that are locally controlled in high performing companies.  ESOPs are good for employees, companies, and our communities.”

Current co-sponsors:

Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO)

Senator Scott P. Brown (R-MA)

Senator Susan M. Collins (R-ME)

Senator Mary L. Landrieu (D-LA)

Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY)

Senator Olympia J. Snowe (R-ME)