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NCOIL Asks Senate To Block OII Bill

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State lawmakers are asking U.S. senators why they are rushing to create a federal Office of Insurance Information.

The National Conference of Insurance Legislators, Troy, N.Y., has sent senators a letter urging them to slow down consideration of H.R. 5840, the Insurance Information Act of 2008.

Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., said during a hearing July 29 that the Senate could pass a package that includes parts of H.R. 5840 in a few weeks, before the Senate adjourns in September.

The list of NCOIL members who signed the letter includes Rep. Brian Kennedy, D-Hopkinton, R.I., NCOIL’s president; Sen. James Seward, R-Otsego, N.Y., the group’s president-elect; Rep. Robert Damron, D-Frankfort, Ky., the group’s vice president; Rep. George Keiser, R-Bismarck, N.D., the group’s secretary; and Sen. Carroll Leavell, R-Jal, N.M., the group’s treasurer.

H.R. 5840 “has not been vetted in the Senate or debated by any previous Congress,” the authors write.

“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,” the authors write. “Even more troubling, the House Committee on Financial Services has yet to debate H.R. 5840. NCOIL would urge you not to pursue an even faster track in the Senate on such a controversial piece of legislation.”

H.R. 5840 “does not specifically detail the powers of the proposed OII and leaves open many questions,” the authors write. “We as fellow lawmakers know that when it comes to legislation, the ‘devil’ is always in the ‘details.’”

NCOIL also has written to governors, state attorneys general and state insurance supervisors regarding H.R. 5840.

Congress is out this week, and NCOIL has not yet received any responses from members of the Senate, according to Michael Humphreys, NCOIL’s director of state-federal relations.


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