Wrapping up loose ends in our blogging on the Senate financial regulation bill, we should note that the Senate did not consider Sen. Arlen Specter’s amendment to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Stoneridge v. Scientific Atlanta, which would have expanded liability in securities fraud litigation to manufacturers and suppliers who took no part in the scheme. The NAM had “Key Voted” against the amendment, which would have empowered class-action attorneys to find more deep pockets they could dig into.
The reality is that with Sen. Specter’s defeat in the Pennsylvania Democratic Senate primary, he loses much of his ability to push unpopular legislation like the Stoneridge amendment.
Legislation from Sen. Herb Kohl (D-WI), on the other hand, definitely remains in play, even though his amendment, to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Leegin Creative Leather Products, Inc. v. PSKS, Inc., was not considered. The amendment, S.Amdt. 3788 also known as the Discount Pricing Consumer Protection Act, would have made resale price maintenance agreements per se violations of federal antitrust laws. Passage would be disservice to consumers and invite more litigation. (See this Shopfloor post for an explanation.)
Unfortunately, the Senate bill — S. 3217, converted into H.R. 4173 — does include “proxy access” provisions to federalize corporate governance rules and allow outside groups — unions, activists, etc. — to force their way into corporate decisionmaking to the detriment of the shareholders.
McClatchy covers the story today, Senate financial overhaul could bring change to the boardroom”:
Many lawmakers weren’t even aware that the provision was in the bill, said Sen. Judd Gregg, R-N.H., blaming the size of the 1,400-plus page bill.
“It is an inappropriate idea, especially inappropriate for the federal government to bury it in this bill. This language applies to every publicly traded corporation in America, not just the financial institutions. Why is it buried in this bill? It should not be in there,” Gregg said.