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Monday, September 4, 2017

Sen. Baldwin supports legislation to help community banks and strengthen laws protecting small business

WASHINGTON D.C. - U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin has joined Senators Roger Wicker (R-MS), Thad Cochran (R-MS) and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) in introducing bipartisan legislation to help Wisconsin community banks by exempting them from requirements designed for larger financial institutions.

“It is unreasonable to require small community banks to meet the same capital requirements as large international banks,” said Senator Baldwin. “This bipartisan, commonsense reform will give Wisconsin community banks the relief they need and free up access to credit for Wisconsinites looking to start a small business or own their first home.”

The legislation would target the punitive treatment of Trust Preferred Securities held by community banks under Basel III capital rules.  These rules were created in the wake of the financial crisis and are being implemented over a four-year period which began January 1, 2015. Approximately 30 community banks, including five in Wisconsin, were affected by the rules. This legislation would provide a level playing field and ensure local communities have access to banking services.
The total amount of capital affected by the Basel III rules is estimated to be approximately $250 million, which has directly impacted community banks’ lending capacity. If the provision is eliminated, community banks could realize additional lending capacity in excess of $2.5 billion.

Senators Baldwin (D-WI) and David Perdue (R-GA) have introduced the Brokaw Act, bipartisan legislation to increase transparency and strengthen oversight of predatory activist hedge funds.

“This bipartisan legislation updates Depression-era rules to address the financial abuses being carried out by activist hedge funds who promote short-term gains at the expense of workers, taxpayers and local communities,” said Senator Baldwin.The Brokaw Act will increase transparency and strengthen oversight of predatory hedge funds. These reforms will help rewrite the rules for Wall Street so the playing field works better for our Main Street economy.”

The Brokaw Act is named for a small Wisconsin village that faces insolvency after the actions of an out-of-state activist hedge fund led to the closure of a paper mill that had provided good jobs to the town for over 100 years. The activist hedge fund bought up the legendary Wausau Paper Company, forced out its executives and demanded short-term returns like buybacks at the expense of investments in workers, R&D, and the company’s long-term future.

The Brokaw Act would fight against increasing short-termism in our economy by promoting transparency and strengthening oversight of activist hedge funds. The legislation would put in place the following reforms:

  • Restore transparency to the marketplace by shortening the 10-day 13(d) disclosure window to four days.

  • Protect businesses from hedge fund “wolf packs” by identifying these coordinated groups of hedge funds as a single group to require disclosure.

  • Require derivative disclosure to prevent activist investors from profiting by secretly voting against the company’s interests.
Senator Baldwin has built support for the bipartisan legislation with a broad coalition from business leaders to workers and from investors to financial reform advocates. 

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