Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) said today that he will reintroduce a pension reform bill that was approved by the House last year, but eventually fizzled in the Senate. The legislation is intended to avoid the implosions within individual pension plans that were sparked by the meltdown of Enron, WorldCom and other corporations and resulted in the loss of hundreds of millions of dollars among retirement investors.
Boehner said that, along with Rep. Sam Johnson (R-Texas), he will introduce, likely later this month, a new version of the Pension Security Act, which will be similar to the version that passed the House last year.
The bill is expected to include provisions that will allow workers to sell company stock three years after receiving options from their employers. It will also clarify employers fiduciary responsibilities during blackouts, and require companies to give workers clearly written, quarterly statements about their retirement benefits.
In addition, the bill will include a controversial proposal that Boehner introduced last year that would allow fund companies to provide investment advice. Some of have said that the reform would allow fund companies to steer investors toward their own funds, or vehicles that yield higher fees, thus posing a conflict of interest. Still, the bill was approved on its own by the House on Nov. 15, 2001 and was approved again when it was included in the first iteration of the Pension Security Act, which the House passed last year.
This time around, the bill will not include two provisions that were in the original. A rule barring company insiders from selling their own stock during blackout and periods, when workers cannot make change to their 401(k)s, will not be included in the new bill. Likewise, a rule requiring pension administrators to notify workers 30 days prior to the start of a blackout period will also not be included. Those provisions were signed into law by President Bush last summer under another piece of corporate scandal-related legislation known as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.
The Senate, however, never scheduled a vote on the House pension reform bill. Democratic leaders, who at the time controlled the Senate, said they were working on their own version, which prompted rage from Republicans.
"We should not have to wait for another Enron or WorldCom before providing workers with new protections that can help them enhance and protect their retirement security," Boehner said today in a statement.