H.R. 33: Church Plan Investment Clarification Act

H.R. 33

Church Plan Investment Clarification Act

Date
July 18, 2011 (112th Congress, 1st Session)

Staff Contact
Communications

Floor Situation

On Monday, July 18, 2011, the House is scheduled consider H.R. 33 under a suspension of the rules, requiring a two-thirds majority vote for passage.  The resolution was introduced by Rep. Judy Biggert (R-IL) on January 5, 2011, and referred to the Committee on Financial Services.  

Bill Summary

H.R. 33 would make a technical correction to the Securities Act of 1933 (as amended by P.L. 108-359), to allow church pension plans to invest in collective trust funds (CTFs) that are offered by banks and trust companies.  The bill would broaden and clarify an exemption that exists in the current securities law but inadvertently prevented church pension plans from making such investments.

Background

Legislation introduced in the 108th Congress (H.R. 1533) sought to amend the Investment Company Act of 1940 to exclude from its definition of ‘investment company’ any collective trust fund maintained by a bank consisting solely of certain church pension plans, companies, or accounts specified in the Internal Revenue Code.  The bill amended the Securities Act of 1933 and the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 to exempt such church pension plans, companies, or accounts from regulation under such Acts, including registration requirements.  H.R. 1533 was approved by the House on a suspension vote of 397-0, and later became Public Law 108-359.

However, H.R. 1533 failed to exempt church plans not funded by tax-deferred annuities or plans that did not include self-employed individuals.  The 1933 Act church plan exemption failed to remove these two conditions for church plans, which is the only place that the collective trust exemptions do not provide parallel treatment among the various securities laws.  H.R. 33 would fix that omission.

On March 10, 2011, during a Capital Markets and Government Sponsored Enterprises Subcommittee hearing, Ms. Meredith Cross, Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Director of Corporation Finance, indicated that the SEC wholeheartedly embraced the idea that participants in a church plan should have the same opportunities as participants in other plans and that there should not be regulatory obstacles to such investment, although the Commission itself had not officially adopted a position on the bill.

Cost

According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), enacting the bill would affect federal spending subject to appropriation, but because the bill would have a negligible impact on the SEC’s workload, such effects would not be significant.  Enacting H.R. 33 would not affect direct spending or revenues.  Therefore, pay-as-you-go procedures do not apply.

H.R. 33 contains no intergovernmental or private-sector mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act and would not affect the budgets of state, local, or tribal governments.