Senate Appropriations Committee Approves Senator Collins’ Provision to Protect Accessibility, Transparency of Financial Disclosures

The amendment would preserve paper financial disclosures as default delivery method

U.S. Senator Susan Collins, a senior member of the Appropriations Committee, announced today that the Committee approved a provision she authored that would ensure that paper remains the default delivery method for financial disclosures.  The provision was included as part of the Financial Services and General Government appropriations bill and must now be considered by the full Senate. 

Senator Collins’ provision would protect the financial security of Americans by keeping paper as the default method of choice for financial disclosures.  The provision would prevent the implementation of a rule proposed by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in May of 2015 that would require individuals to opt in to receive mutual fund information in paper form. Under current SEC rules, individuals may already choose to receive electronic notices, but only a small percentage of people do so, which indicates that paper is the preferred delivery method.

“For our nation’s seniors, rural consumers, individuals with disabilities, and those without regular Internet access, receiving paper disclosures is critical to ensuring that they can accurately track their financial reports,” said Senator Collins.  “The SEC’s misguided rule would inhibit transparency and lead to confusion and potential financial discord among the Americans who receive these disclosures.  I am pleased that the Appropriations Committee included my provision, which will help protect Americans’ financial security.  My provision will also support Maine’s paper industry by ensuring that paper continues to be the default delivery method for these important notices, the format most consumers prefer.”

During the SEC’s comment period on its proposed rule, the agency received 965 public comments, 92 percent of which were in opposition to the rule.  AARP, Twin Rivers Paper Company, and other important stakeholders have also expressed their opposition to the proposed rule.

Senator Collins has strongly advocated for the preservation of paper as the default delivery method for financial disclosures.  In November of 2015, Senator Collins joined Senators Angus King, John Boozman, and Debbie Stabenow in sending a bipartisan letter to Mary Jo White, the Chair of the SEC, urging her to reconsider the agency’s proposed rule.  In addition, in August of 2015, Senator Collins joined Senator Angus King and Representative Bruce Poliquin in writing a letter to Chair White requesting that the proposed rule be open for comment for an additional 90 days.

“The SEC’s effort to move away from paper forms as the default method for financial disclosures just doesn’t make sense for rural America,” said Senator King. “Many of our rural citizens – particularly seniors and those with disabilities – don’t have reliable access to the internet, and they depend on these traditional paper forms to keep up with their finances. And during this difficult time for our paper industry and the rural communities it supports, we shouldn’t be undermining a process that works well for consumers and industry alike. I applaud Senator Collins for securing this paper disclosure language in the Appropriations Committee, and will continue to work with her on this issue in support of Maine people and Maine communities.”