A state lawmaker is asking his state’s attorney general whether regulators can participate in National Association of Insurance Commissioners meetings that are closed to the public.
North Dakota State Rep. George Keiser, R-Bismarck, N.D., chairman of the executive committee at the National Council of Insurance Legislators, Troy, N.Y., has written to North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem to request an opinion concerning whether North Dakota Insurance Commissioner Jim Poolman violates the state’s open record law when he participates in closed NAIC executive sessions.
“Can the state of North Dakota pay membership dues to belong to and participate in policy and regulatory discussions if said discussions and decisions occur in executive sessions not open to the public?” Keiser asks.
Stenehjem’s office has not returned a call seeking comment.
Poolman says Keiser has a right to question the policy.
“But I think he is off base, and I believe the opinion asked for will prove that,” Poolman says.
If Stenehjem agrees with Poolman and the NAIC, Kansas City, Mo., keeps its current meeting rules, then Keiser will introduce a bill that would bar North Dakota from participating in the NAIC, Keiser says.
National Conference of Insurance Legislators Vice President Brian Kennedy drew attention to the topic in March, by asking Walter Bell, the Alabama insurance commissioner and president of the NAIC, about the NAIC’s use of closed meetings.
Bell said the NAIC has a liberal open meeting policy but maintains the right to close meetings when needed.
Kennedy, a Democratic state representative from Hopkinton, R.I., said he will send a letter to upper and lower chamber insurance committee chairs in all 50 states to tell them that he believes the NAIC is making excessive use of closed meetings.
“At the same time, that letter will raise the concern about the unique funding stream that the NAIC has devised and will suggest to legislators that perhaps a thorough examination and review should be completed at the state level regarding the operations and participation of the NAIC in relation to each state,” Kennedy says.