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NABL Conference Will Focus on Taxable Debt and Other Issues

The National Association of Bond Lawyers plans to host a conference on Nov. 9 during which academics, public officials, and attorneys will discuss the role of taxable debt in the municipal market and other broad-based issues.

The conference, which will be held in conjunction with American University's Washington College of Law on its campus, will mark the 20th anniversary of the so-called Anthony Commission report.

That report, called Preserving the Federal-State-Local Partnership: the Role of Tax-Exempt Financing, was issued in October 1989 and made recommendations for easing the burdens of tax law restrictions imposed on municipal bonds by the Tax Reform Act of 1986.

NABL president William A. Holby said yesterday that the conference will consist of several panels that will debate a number of issues relating to tax and securities laws that affect municipal bonds, including an analysis of how the Constitution delineates the relationship between the federal and state and local governments.

The recession, the resulting budget challenges for state and local governments, and the growing need to address the country's crumbling infrastructure make it an excellent time to consider questions about the nature of public finance, according to Holby.

The conference "has been hovering around back there as an idea for a while, and I think it started with an awareness by some of us that the Anthony Commission was 20 years ago," he said.

That commission, led by then-Rep. Beryl Anthony Jr., D-Ark., included a number of muni market participants and former President Bill Clinton, who was governor of Arkansas at the time.

The conference sessions will address the emergence of municipal taxable debt through the Build America Bond program created by the stimulus law and what role it might hold for the future of public finance, as well as the impact of financial regulatory reform, Holby said.

However, the conference will not strive for resolution of these issues, but rather provide an opportunity for a conversation from "a really broad-based group of voices," he said. "My sense is that this should be a fascinating conversation."

The panelists will include John J. Cross 3d, the Treasury Department's associate tax legislative counsel; John Buckley, the House Ways and Means Committee's chief tax counsel; Annette Nazareth, a former commissioner with the Securities and Exchange Commission who is now a partner at Davis Polk & Wardwell, LLP; and Alice Rivlin, senior fellow of economic studies at the Brookings Institution.

AU law professors Nancy Abramowitz and Jamie Raskin also will attend. In addition, a number of elected officials have expressed interest in attending, but have not committed yet, NABL officials said.

Those interested in attending the conference will be able to soon register on NABL's Web site, They will be able to attend the conference for free unless they are attorneys seeking Continuing Legal Education credits.

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