June 7, 2021

Government Affairs Update


Blueprint Proposals Introduced in the Senate

Two bills called for in IRI’s 2021 Federal Retirement Security Blueprint were introduced as standalone bills in the U.S. Senate prior to the Memorial Day holiday. Senators Kevin Cramer (R-ND) and Mark Warner (D-VA) reintroduced the Securing and Enabling Commerce Using Remote and Electronic (SECURE) Notarization Act. The bill would authorize all notaries in the United States to preform “Remote Online Notarizations” (RONs) by establishing minimum standards for the use of “tamper-proof” technology and multifactor authentication. In a press statement, Senator Cramer said, “the pandemic exposed several flaws and outdated methods used in the American economy, and the notary process is a prime example. Our bill would bring this process into the 21st century, allowing people to securely complete notarized documents remotely, just as they do with many other important forms.” Senator Warner also noted the impact of the pandemic on how Americans conduct business, saying, “while the COVID-19 pandemic presented a number of obstacles to essential tasks such as executing wills, completing financial documents, buying or selling a home, or purchasing or selling a car online, many states demonstrated how to effectively deploy this type of technology to meet the needs of Americans.”  IRI supported the SECURE Notarization Act when it was introduced in the previous session of Congress and has participated in joint trades efforts to authorize permanent digital solutions for notarization requirements.

Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Steve Daines (R-MT) also introduced the Retirement Savings Lost and Found Act of 2021. The bill would create a national, online retirement account “lost and found” database at the Department of the Treasury to help Americans track down employer-sponsored retirement accounts they may have left behind when changing jobs. In a press statement, Senator Warren noted that “millions of Americans lose thousands in savings each year because of lost retirement plans from previous employers and other roadblocks to tracking multiple accounts.” The Government Accountability Office (GAO) estimates that 25 million Americans left behind $8.5 billion in retirement accounts over the past decade. IRI submitted a letter of support to Senators Warren and Daines calling for the enactment of the bill. The same provision was also included in S. 1770, the Retirement Security and Savings Act of 2021.

IRI will continue to monitor Congress for actions on Federal Retirement Security Blueprint proposals.

Any questions should be referred to John Jennings.


DOL’s Walsh to Appear Before Labor Committee

Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh is expected to appear before the House Committee on Education and Labor on June 9 at 12:00 pm ET to discuss the “policies and priorities” for the Department of Labor. The hearing can be viewed here. IRI will monitor the hearing and provide an update on any retirement security topics covered.

Any questions should be referred to John Jennings.

Lankford and Bennet Introduce Emergency Savings Bill

On June 1, Senators James Lankford (R-OK) and Michael Bennet (D-CO) introduced the Enhancing Emergency Retirement and Savings Act of 2021. The bill would allow retirement savers the ability to make a one-per year penalty-free distribution from a retirement savings account in the event of an emergency of up to $1,000 from vested balanced over $1,000. In a press statement, Senator Lankford said, “Our commonsense bill provides Americans the flexibility to save for retirement now, knowing they have access to some of their money for an emergency, and be able to pay that money back into their retirement plan. Adding that flexibility will help encourage workers, who might not otherwise feel comfortable participating in their personal or companies’ retirement savings program, to put money in those accounts with a little more peace of mind.” Senator Bennet highlighted that “nearly four in ten Americans can’t afford a $400 emergency expense” and that the Enhancing Emergency Retirement and Savings Act will “help give workers more flexibility to foot the bill for an unexpected emergency.”

IRI is analyzing the provisions of the bill and will continue to monitor Congress for legislation impacting retirement savings.

Any questions should be referred to John Jennings.



Biden issues New Executive Order to Expand Trump’s Executive Order “Addressing the Threat from Securities Investments that Finance Communist Chinese Military Companies”

Last week, President Biden issued an Executive Order, which reaffirms and expands a Trump Administration Executive Order, prohibiting investment and/or mandating divestment of current securities in certain Chinese companies, as identified in the U.S. Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control’s (OFAC) on its “Communist Chinese Military Companies List” (CCMC List). The new Executive Order reaffirms the prohibitions and required divestments of securities issued by companies on the CCMC List. However, it also expands the number of Chinese companies named to the CCMC List, bringing the total number of targeted companies to 59 from 48. The dates for the prohibition on investment have been updated from June 11, 2021 to August 2, 2021 (or within 60 days of a company being named to the CCMC List); and the mandated divestment of such securities has been updated from Fall 2021 to June 3, 2022 (or within 365 days of a company being named to the CCMC List). Biden Administration officials shared that additional amendments to Trump’s Executive Order were to address Chinese companies bringing a series of successful legal challenges, which the officials said made the original policy “flawed and legally vulnerable.” The Biden Administration has made clear that this Executive Order is part of the President’s larger national economic strategy on U.S. and Chinese relations.

IRI will consult with the Securities Committee and the Advocacy Steering Committee to identify any next steps for IRI with respect to the new Executive Order and the expansion of the CCMC List.

Any questions should be referred to Emily Micale.

Colorado Annuity Premium Tax Bill

Last week, IRI collaborated with ACLI to successfully advocate for significant changes to the problematic annuity premium tax provision in Colorado HB 1312. The original version of this provision would have caused sales of many annuities to be subject to a 2% premium tax. While the bill sponsors were unwilling to remove the provision entirely, we were able to persuade them to significantly narrow the scope to exclude all annuities sold within retirement plans as well as structured settlements. A few small procedural steps remain before the bill is presented to Governor Jared Polis (D), but the bill is expected to clear those steps before the legislature adjourns and the Governor is expected to sign the bill when it reaches his desk. Looking ahead, we will monitor the impact of this change on the annuity market in Colorado and on Colorado carriers that may now be subject to retaliatory taxes on annuity sales in other states, and we will be prepared to seek further changes as needed during future sessions of the state legislature.

Any questions should be referred to Jason Berkowitz.

FINRA Submits Proposed Rule Change to SEC on Continuing Education Requirements for Current Registrants and Inactive Members seeking Reinstatement

Last Friday, June 4th, FINRA filed SR-FINRA-2021-015, a Proposed Rule Change to Amend FINRA Rules 1210 (Registration Requirements) and 1240 (Continuing Education Requirements) with the SEC. This proposed rule change has two significant FINRA Continuing Education (CE) requirement changes, one to current registrants and one for individuals seeking registration following a termination or a transition to inactive status.

From a high-level view of the proposed rule change, it requires:

  1. Current registrants must complete all their CE requirements, including those additional CE requirements for special registrations and/or designations, annually rather than every three years
  2. Individuals seeking reregistration with FINRA following a termination or transition to inactive status to complete all their required CE requirements prior to being permitted to attain active status (including any special registrations or designations and those associated and additional CE requirements).


For Current Registrants: You must now complete all CE requirements annually, on a calendar basis by December 31st. The basis for this proposed rule change is that FINRA’s rationale is that with enhancements in technology and the ability to access and complete CE courses online, the time and burden to attend a CE program in person allows for the enhanced annual basis requirement.

For Inactive/Terminated Registrants Seeking to Return to Active Status: There is a second proposal in FINRA’s proposed rule change. Applicants who became “inactive” or “terminated” per FINRA rules, who then seek to return to active status must complete ALL required CE requirements, including the additional CE requirements for special registration status and/or designations, prior to FINRA approving an applicant to return to active registration status.

Implementation Dates: Also, per the proposed rule change, if the SEC approves the proposed rule change, FINRA will announce the implementation dates of the proposed rule change in a Regulatory Notice to be published no later than 90 days following SEC’s approval.

PLEASE NOTE: This is a long, extensive written proposal, for more specific information on certain or special circumstances, I strongly encourage members to refer to the full text of the proposed rule change itself, per the link provided above.

We have shared the proposed rule change, and this related information with our IRI Securities Committee and will work with members for IRI to determine our position and response with respect to this FINRA action.

Any questions should be referred to Emily Micale.