It occurred this week, and Rep. Spencer Bachus, R-Vestavia Hills, led the way.
Bachus chairs the House Financial Services Committee, which approved a bill that would require certain financial advisers to local governments to register with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
This act will tighten a provision in the Dodd-Frank regulatory reform law that many on both sides of the aisle felt was too broad and regulated agencies that did not need such regulation. Instead, this new version of the rule will apply to unregulated financial advisors like those that are accused of misadvising Jefferson County in the project that ultimately led to a $4.23 billion debt and the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history. Had this requirement been in place, the county’s financial disaster might have been avoided.
“This is an entirely worthy goal and one I support, especially as I have seen in Jefferson County, Alabama, how unscrupulous municipal advisers pocketed the lucrative fees associated with the county’s sewer bond offerings while ignoring the welfare of the taxpayers,” Bachus told the Birmingham News.
What the action of the Bachus committee points to is that there are indeed non-ideological issues on which both parties can agree. In their agreement, they can amend and improve controversial legislation that was introduced amid a lot of ideological rancor.
Most of us will never have reason to ever know this bill was approved; if it had been on the books when Jefferson County was considering the action that led to its bankruptcy, most residents of that county would have been equally unaware of its existence. Nonetheless, it is vitally important. It is the sort of legislation that prevents problems rather than solves them after the fact.
Here is an Alabama congressman whose partisan credentials are well known, leading the way to the passage of a piece of bipartisan legislation that will serve the public.
That makes the action of the House Financial Services Committee noteworthy.