Sens. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., asked the Department of Labor to put the brakes on a controversial proposed rule that would expand the pool of retirement plan service providers considered to be fiduciaries to include consultants who appraise investments, according to a letter sent Monday to Labor Secretary Hilda Solis.
The senators wrote that several Vermont companies that offer employee stock ownership plans are concerned the proposed regulation would increase the costs of the annual valuations that ESOP sponsors currently are required to get.
“These small businesses already face high costs of maintaining an ESOP and repurchasing shares of departing vested employee-owners,” the lawmakers wrote. “Additional financial burdens could negatively impact their ability to expand their businesses and hire new employees.”
In the letter, the senators asked for an extension of the public comment period on the proposed rule for at least 30 days beyond the current deadline of Jan. 20; that Labor Department officials meet with Vermont lawmakers and the ESOP sponsors “to review and explain the proposal,” and to hold an open meeting to take public testimony on the subject.
Gloria Della, a DOL spokeswoman, had not returned telephone calls or an e-mail seeking comment by press time.