State legislators are trying to derail fast-track efforts to pass legislation that would create a federal Office of Insurance Information, telling U.S. senators further debate is required before radically changing the insurance regulatory landscape.
An Aug. 1 letter was sent to every U.S. senator by the National Conference of Insurance Legislators, following a July 29 hearing of the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs–during which Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., indicated that the Senate could consider a legislative package that may include parts of H.R. 5840, the Insurance Information Act of 2008, before adjourning in September.
The letter–signed by state representatives and senators, including NCOIL President Brian Kennedy, a Democrat from Rhode Island–said H.R. 5840 “has not been vetted in the Senate or debated by any previous Congress.”
“The measure was reported out of the House Subcommittee on Capital Markets, Insurance and Government Sponsored Enterprises after a markup in which less than 15 of the almost 50-member subcommittee voted,” NCOIL noted.
“Even more troubling, the House Committee on Financial Services has yet to debate H.R. 5840,” the letter added. “NCOIL would urge you not to pursue an even faster track in the Senate on such a controversial piece of legislation.”
In addition, NCOIL wrote, “H.R. 5840–painted in such broad strokes–does not specifically detail the powers of the proposed OII and leaves open many questions. We as fellow lawmakers know that when it comes to legislation, the ‘devil is always in the details.’”
NCOIL has also contacted state governors, attorneys general and insurance supervisors to rally support against H.R. 5840.
Michael Humphreys, NCOIL’s director of state-federal relations in Washington, said the group had not received any responses yet to its letter because Congress was in recess last week.
NCOIL members are concerned that an OII within the U.S. Treasury Department, as described in the Treasury’s blueprint for regulatory modernization, will be an interim step to an optional federal charter, according to Mr. Humphreys.
He did not quantify what a more reasonable pace would be for consideration of the OII measure, but emphasized that more time is needed because this is a new proposal before the Senate.