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New bill seeks to increase transparency among public companies, limit outsourcing

BY Wednesday, February 15, 2017 03:59pm

In a bid to increase transparency among consumers and government, Senate Democrats today announced a bill requiring publicly-traded companies to disclose employees by location.

For U.S. Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI), the bill comes as what he sees as a needed step to develop an “objective” measure to assess policies addressing the outsourcing of jobs from the U.S.

“There are a number of policies we can discuss to keep jobs in America, but before you can think about those policies, you have to know the lay of the land and you have to know how many employees are actually in America and how many are in other countries,” he said during a conference call with reporters. “Then you can assess those policies.”

Peters is joined in support of the bill by Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Joe Donnelly (D-IN), Jack Reed (D-RI) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA).

Currently, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) requires public companies to provide the total number of workers employed, but does not require companies to disclose which country those workers are located in.

The new bill will also break out which states U.S. workers are located in, Peters said.

“This information is actually difficult to know. Folks usually have to rely on information from press clippings or factory sizes,” he said. “There isn't one clear source that economists and policy makers can look at as to how many folks are working in various countries.

“Folks may say this is an additional report that a company has to do, but it’s pretty clear that the company knows where they send their paychecks every two weeks. This is pretty easy information to provide and I think this should be part of the SEC’s disclosure for public companies.”

Despite the Republican-led congress, Peters hopes the bill will receive bipartisan support and is confident it will be signed into law by President Trump.

“Donald Trump has made many comments about how he wants to bring back American jobs and bring back the outsourcing that’s occurring,” Peters said. “This is a common sense, practical bill that should get his support if he is indeed serious about dealing with outsourcing.”

Peters also noted that Wilbur Ross, now commerce secretary under the Trump administration, during his confirmation hearing in January expressed support for the bill and “seemed very open to it.”

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