Free Lunch Podcast Episode 37 – The Debate Over the SEC’s Accredited Investor Standard

This teleforum will consider the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s accredited investor standard. This standard is used as a screen to determine the group of investors eligible to invest in offerings that are exempt from most SEC rules on public offerings and which are the primary fundraising tools of hedge funds and private equity funds. The SEC currently uses a wealth and income-based standard, which raises questions about whether limiting investment opportunities to only high-income individuals is sound government policy. Some critics of this standard have urged the SEC to expand the standard to include individuals with financial experience, but who do not otherwise meet the wealth threshold. Other critics have suggested more aggressive reforms. Supporters of the accredited investor standard, however, have advanced proposals to further restrict the group of eligible investors by increasing the income and net worth requirements. The SEC has promised to revisit the accredited investor standard soon, and this teleforum will consider and debate potential reforms to the rule.

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Free Lunch Podcast Episode 36 – Fintech Licensing and the OCC Charter

Innovations in financial technology have enabled financial services to be provided in new ways and by new competitors, but under old rules. One area of tension is the role of federalism in a world where, thanks to the internet, firms can provide services nationwide at their inception. The balance of authority between the states, who traditionally had primary authority over non-bank lenders and money transmitters and the federal government has been called into question, with some advocating for greater federalization in the interest of efficiency and equity, and others resisting citing concerns about state sovereignty and consumer protection. Federal regulators have also taken note, with the Treasury calling for reforms to streamline fintech regulation and OCC announcing it would offer some non-depository fintech firms the opportunity to get a federal bank charter, which led the states to sue. Come hear a discussion on the state of fintech and federalism and the proper path for the future.

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Free Lunch Podcast Episode 35 – What Should the FHFA’s 2019 Agenda Be?

January 7, 2019 starts a new leadership era for the Federal Housing Finance Agency, as the new Acting Director from the Trump Administration, Joseph Otting, takes office, with the nomination of Mark Calabria as Director in process. FHFA is the regulator of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Federal Home Loan Banks, the combined housing finance assets of which are over $6 trillion, all involving an effective guarantee from the U.S. Treasury. What are the key issues and projects for the FHFA going forward? What can and what should it do to lead reform of Fannie and Freddie–and reform of American housing finance in general? What requires Congress and what might the FHFA, or the FHFA and Treasury, do on their own? Should the Senior Preferred Stock Agreements for Fannie and Freddie be revised? What about the role of the FHLBs? In spite of all the reform ideas, might the housing finance status quo persist?

Ed DeMarco, who was Acting Director of the FHFA 2009-2014 and now heads the Housing Policy Council, will be interviewed by R Street Institute distinguished senior fellow Alex Pollock.

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Free Lunch Podcast Episode 34 – Examining the California Consumer Privacy Act

On June 28, 2018, the California legislature enacted the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 (“CCPA”). This legislation follows more than two decades of debate about potential federal privacy regulation, a tumultuous year of high-profile privacy incidents, and the implementation of the GDPR in Europe. It also is the most comprehensive privacy regulation that has been adopted in the United States. The CCPA was enacted in a record-breaking 7 days, has staggering breadth, and will have national and international repercussions. On this call, we will discuss the substance of the CCPA (including recent amendments) and the process that led to its enactment, along with how it is likely to affect future privacy regulation in the United States, with Eric Goldman and Lindsey Tonsager, two experts in privacy law who have followed the CCPA closely.

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Free Lunch Podcast Episode 33 – Net Neutrality and Federalism

Despite the Federal Communication Commission’s decision in December 2017 to eliminate the common carrier regulations for Internet services — the so-called net neutrality rules the FCC created in 2015 — the net neutrality debate rages on. The Trump FCC preempted states’ authority to regulate the Internet, yet governors in six states have attempted to enforce net neutrality principles via executive order and three states have passed “baby net neutrality bills.” Several more state bills are pending. Can state agencies regulate Internet services? What are the legal and practical impediments? What are the consequences of businesses operating under inconsistent regulations amongst the states and at the federal level? Gus Hurwitz, Brent Skorup, and Geoffrey Manne will discuss this new front in regulation, federalism, and grassroots activism.

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Free Lunch Podcast Episode 32 – Visiting the EPA’s CAFE: What’s on the Menu for Fuel Economy and Greenhouse Gas Standards?

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt and Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao are proposing to roll back the Obama Administration’s fuel economy and greenhouse gas standards for model years 2022 to 2025. The proposed rollback will have vast political and economic consequences for automakers, auto dealers, and drivers. Is the rollback legally justified and appropriate? Is it good for consumers? Will the proposed rollback prompt California to enforce its own more stringent standards? If so, what are the legal and policy ramifications of overlapping federal and state standards? This teleforum call will discuss these and other questions related to the Trump Administration’s proposed rollback of the fuel economy and greenhouse gas standards.

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Free Lunch Podcast Episode 31 – What to do about Facebook: On Data Privacy and the Future of Tech Regulation

Facebook is not getting many “likes” these days following revelations that Cambridge Analytica accessed personal information about Facebook users without obtaining clear consent. The reaction from politicians, regulators, and the marketplace has been swift and significant. In this teleforum, experts from the Regulatory Transparency Project’s Cyber and Privacy Working Group will discuss what happened, the economic, legal, and political consequences, and what this could mean for companies that have built business models around the use of user data.

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Free Lunch Podcast Episode 30 – Tennessee Licensing Board Alarmed by Entrepreneur’s Facial Recognition Software

Adam Jackson became a highly trained U.S. soldier who provided cutting-edge security to military bases and embassies. Now as a civilian, he seeks to provide similar protection for American communities through software he has developed that can identify potentially dangerous individuals and prompt a security response before violence occurs. Schools, places of worship, concert venues — all have jumped at the opportunity to use Adam’s service. However, Adam has been barred from utilizing the technology altogether. The Tennessee Alarm Systems Contractors Board considers the software to be an alarm system which requires Adam to undergo a 5-year apprenticeship in alarm system installation before he can obtain a certification to deploy his software. Adam, with the help of the Beacon Center of Tennessee, is challenging the Board’s determination. In the meantime, he has shut down his business while he awaits an administrative resolution to his case.

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Free Lunch Podcast Episode 29 – Arizona Dumps Deference: The Beginning of the End for Chevron?

We live in a system where regulators make rules, investigate alleged violations of the rules, and then adjudicate those violations before an Administrative Law Judge who is a member of the agency. When agency decisions are appealed to the traditional court system, judges are obligated to “defer” to the agency on both its legal and factual conclusions. Many opponents of this scheme have criticized the system for “placing a thumb on the scales of justice” by encouraging judicial bias. Many of the same critics assert that the current system of administrative law offends the rule of law, due process, and separation of powers. In April 2018, Arizona passed first-of-its-kind legislation, developed by the Goldwater Institute, that eliminates this legal deference in state courts. This teleforum call will explore this new law, discuss how it might change state agency rulemaking and enforcement, and also examine how the law might address concerns regarding judicial bias and other issues. Importantly, this program will also consider whether this legislation can serve as a model for the rest of the country, and the federal government.

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Free Lunch Podcast Episode 28 – Analyzing how EPA is Addressing “Secret Science”

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt announced that his agency would no longer allow the use of “secret science” in developing federal regulations. Specifically, the agency will only use scientific studies to develop regulations when the data and methodology for those studies are made accessible to the public. Is there really a secret science or transparency problem that even needs to be addressed? If so, have there been attempts historically to correct the problem? What are the implications of excluding such studies? This presentation will provide background on this effort and discuss how transparency in government can be strengthened and better inform policymaking.

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