Torres Amendment Holds Wall Street Accountable When Investing in Local Emergency Services
WASHINGTON, DC - Today, Rep. Norma J. Torres (D-CA) offered an amendment to H.R. 5424, the Investment Advisers Modernization Act of 2016, to address growing concern that investment in local emergency services companies by private equity firms is negatively impacting fire and ambulance response times and potentially placing lives at risk.
“My amendment will make sure there is accountability and transparency when private equity firms invest in emergency services companies,” said Torres. “Our constituents deserve to know that when they call 911, their lives won’t be put at risk because the people who own the local fire or ambulance service wants to turn a profit.”
According to a June 26th New York Times article, since the 2008 financial crisis, private equity firms have invested in growing numbers in emergency services companies, in some cases with disastrous results. The article reported slow response times and mismanagement to the point that emergency service companies claimed their parent companies were not able to pay salaries or restock critical supplies.
Torres’s amendment, offered as the Motion to Recommit, would require private equity firms to report the change in response time of emergency vehicles since the private fund acquired a controlling interest in the emergency services company. The report would also require data on the percent of emergency response times that violate contracts entered into by local governments and emergency services companies and the reason those times did not meet requirements.
“Private equity firms can certainly play an important role in our communities by investing in businesses and creating jobs, but if a private equity firm decides to invest in an emergency service company, they also take on the responsibility to provide those services to the level residents expect,” continued Torres. “When it comes to responding to an emergency, there is no margin for error, and under absolutely no circumstances should profit come before saving lives.”
Rep. Torres worked for over 17 years as a 911 dispatcher for the Los Angeles Police Department. The amendment failed by a vote of 176 to 232.