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Kanjorski Files Insurance Office Bill

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Rep. Paul Kanjorski, D-Pa., followed through on an earlier announcement Thursday and introduced a bill that would set up an Office of Insurance Information inside the U.S. Treasury Department.

The bill, H.R. 5840, would create the Insurance Information Act of 2008.

In addition to gathering data, the new OII would provide advice and expertise on insurance regulation for the Executive Branch and for Congress Kanjorski says.

The OII also would report to Congress every 2 years, establish federal policy on international insurance matters, and ensure that state insurance laws remain consistent with federal policy when the federal government negotiates international trade agreements.

The bill also would also establish an advisory council to advise the head of the OII. Council members would include state regulators, consumer group representatives and representatives of other insurance industry organizations.

Kanjorski is chairman of the House Financial Service Committee’s Capital Markets Subcommittee.

Kanjorski has recruited 4 members members of the House Financial Services Committee to serve as original bill co-sponsors. The original co-sponsors are Rep. Deborah Pryce, R-Ohio; Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif.; Rep. Melissa L. Bean, D-Ill.; and Rep. Dennis Moore, D-Kan.

The American Council of Life Insurers, Washington, says it will support H.R. 5840.

ACLI President Frank Keating says the the ACLI is encouraged by Kanjorski’s decision to introduce the bill.

Kanjorski has “long recognized that while the current system has served the nation admirably for more than a century, reform is long overdue and must be achieved if the United States is to maintain its global leadership in financial services,” Keating says in a statement.

The ACLI remains committed to passage of legislation giving insurers the option of choosing between state and federal regulation, but the new bill is also important, Keating says.

Keating singles out one section of H.R. 5840, which would authorize the Treasury Department to work with the U.S. Trade Representative to coordinate an insurance industry competitiveness strategy, for praise.

“The insurance marketplace is global in scope,” Keating says.

Today, the U.S. insurance industry’s lack of federal regulatory expertise is starting to cause friction with other nations, Keating says.

Pryce, one of the co-sponsors, also is emphasizing the importance of the trade implications of the bill.

“The current state structure of our insurance industry offers many advantages, but it often impedes and complicates our ability to compete in the global marketplace,” Pryce says. “To remove this competitive disadvantage, one voice is needed to advocate for America’s insurance interests.”