ASHEVILLE, N.C. — The National Association of State Treasurers elected officers for 2014 and adopted several bond-related resolutions, during an annual business meeting at its conference here on Monday.
NAST's new president will be Utah Treasurer Richard Ellis, who is currently the organization's senior vice president. He will succeed Virginia Treasurer Manju Ganeriwala as NAST president in January.
Ellis has served as the Beehive State's treasurer since 2009. Previously, he served as Utah's chief deputy state treasurer, the director of the governor's office of planning and budget, and executive director of the department of administrative services. In total, he's spent 17 years in state government and more than 27 years working in public finance, he said.
Ellis described his goals for NAST.
"I think we need to make sure that as an organization that we've got a value add proposition for everybody involved," so states that aren't very active in NAST participate more and so that corporate affiliates that support NAST feel like they're getting what they want out of the organization, he said.
He also said that he wants to see if NAST as an organization can start promoting best practices. Additionally, Ellis thinks NAST is still working hard to raise its profile so "that people are looking to this organization as having expertise to contribute to their discussions."
NAST needs to continue to have a presence in the discussions over the SEC's proposed reforms to money market funds, he said. Also, the group has to stay on top of tax-reform efforts and communicate with members of Congress members and their staff and work with other market participants to preserve the tax exemption for municipal bonds.
"That's such an important tool for state and local governments for financing infrastructure," he said.
Tennessee Treasurer David Lillard, who is currently NAST's secretary-treasurer, was elected the group's senior vice president for 2014. Washington Treasurer James McIntire was elected NAST's secretary-treasurer.
In addition to electing new officers, NAST adopted resolutions that "serve as a basic platform for the staff and members to then go to the Hill with a basic position," said
Nancy Kopp, NAST's legislative chair and Maryland Treasurer. Resolutions are in effect for three years and can be renewed with or without changes.
The state treasurers readopted a resolution that opposes amending or repealing a provision of federal securities law known as the "Tower Amendment." The amendment prohibits the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board from requiring state and local governments to file documents before selling bonds. If the Tower Amendment is repealed or altered, it could lead to federal preemption of states' bond issuance processes, the resolution said.
Another resolution NAST adopted again includes several bond-related provisions. One of them states that NAST opposes legislative and regulatory measures that eliminate the tax-exempt status of munis, impair the use of munis, or makes them less attractive.
Another provision states that if tax-credit bond programs are created or extended, the credits or subsidies should not be reduced after their rates are set. This text is in lieu of renewing a 2010 resolution that encouraged the extension of the Build America Bonds program, a direct-pay bond program that expired that year.
Kopp said NAST wanted to keep its emphasis on the tax exemption for traditional municipal bonds and that some state treasurers became weary about reviving the BAB program after the bonds' subsidy payments were cut under sequestration.
Also in this resolution, NAST: supports an expansion of the usefulness of the MSRB's EMMA system; supports the regulation of financial intermediaries in the municipal securities market;, opposes requirements that an audited financial statement be provided in less than 180 days after the end of the fiscal year, and opposes legislation that would make state and local government issuers subject to federal disclosure laws or require munis to be registered with the SEC.
A third resolution adopted by the state treasurers urges the MSRB to continue to include state treasurers on the board to ensure the interests of the governmental community are appropriately represented. After NAST previously called for state treasurers on the MSRB, Ellis was appointed to its board.