New Bill Concerns Securities Industry/would Strip Department of Legal Staff

Article excerpt

Killing Oklahoma's securities industry will be the end result of the attorney general's bill to strip the state securities department of its legal staff, according to brokers and securities lawyers who spoke Thursday at a hearing conducted by the Oklahoma Securities Commission.

"In my opinion," said David Newsome, a Tulsa securities lawyer, "he (Attorney General Robert Henry) has just told you the securities industry is going to shut down in this state."

However, Senate Bill 139 isn't aimed at just one agency.

The bill, which passed the Oklahoma Senate by a vote of 46-1 on Tuesday, would place all attorneys for all state agencies, boards and commissions under the attorney general's supervision and control.

Only Sen. Bernest Cain, D-Oklahoma City, voted against the measure.

The only exempt agencies would be the corporation commission, tax commission, the State Insurance Fund, and the Workers' Compensation Court, according to this proposed new law.

After the hearing, the Oklahoma Securities Commission voted to oppose the bill and act on a suggestion by Wayne Osborn, acting bank commissioner, to lobby the bill's authors, including state Sen. Tim Leonard, R-Beaver, and Rep. James Hamilton, R-Poteau, to exempt the Oklahoma Securities Commission from this legislation.

Without a legal staff, the Oklahoma Department of Securities would be unable to process applications for registration of public offerings of securities, it was noted by Joe Rockett, an Oklahoma City securities lawyer.

That could dry up a primary source of venture capital in Oklahoma, said Bruce Day, an Oklahoma City attorney who practices securities law. Like Newsome, he is a former administrator of the state's securities department.

"I can't think of anything," Day said, "that would be more important to the state's future than investment regulation in Oklahoma, and yet here we are talking about restructuring the regulation of the entire investment industry. …