WASHINGTON — Sen. Richard Shelby on Wednesday called for the Senate to pass a bill that would exempt more small banks from securities registration requirements.

The Alabama Republican's comments followed last week's passage of a companion bill in the House of Representatives. The measures would raise the threshold under which banks are required to register with the Securities and Exchange Commission from 500 shareholders to 2,000 shareholders.

The Senate version of the bill is being sponsored by Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas. It has been referred to the Senate Banking Committee.

In a speech on the Senate floor, Shelby called on the chamber to pass the bill along with a number of other measures that he said will help small businesses get access to capital.

"At a time when job growth is stagnant, Congress needs to lift the regulatory burden that is stifling capital formation," Shelby said. "This is an issue that should enjoy the support of both Republicans and Democrats."

Among the other measures that Shelby urged the Senate to pass are a bill that would exempt securities offerings of less than $50 million from SEC registration and one that would exempt securities offerings involving small investments of no more than $1,000.

"These bills would still leave investors protected and ensure that public companies provide meaningful disclosure," Shelby said. "Most importantly, investors would still be protected by the SEC's anti-fraud rules."

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