State legislators are asking United States senators to be more deliberative in passing legislation that would create a federal Office of Insurance Information.

The National Conference of Insurance Legislators, Troy, N.Y., sent an August 1 letter to every senator urging them to slow down the legislative process so that more discussion and debate can take place.

The letter followed a July 29 hearing of the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs during which Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., indicated 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. (See NU, Aug. 4.)

The letter was signed by state representatives and senators including Brian Kennedy, R.I., who is also NCOIL president; James Seward, N.Y.; Robert Damron, Ky.; George Keiser, N.D.; and Carroll Leavell, N.M..

The letter makes several points including the fact that H.R. 5840 “has not been vetted in the Senate or debated by any previous Congress.”

It continues, “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. 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.”

And, according to the letter, “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 regarding H.R. 5840.

Michael Humphreys, NCOIL’s director of state-federal relations in Washington, said NCOIL has not yet received any responses because Congress is out this week.

NCOIL members are concerned that an OII within the U.S. Treasury Department, as described in the Treasury Blueprint will be an interim step to an Optional Federal Charter, he continued.

Two co-sponsors of OII legislation introduced by Rep. Paul Kanjorski, D-Pa., Reps. Melissa Bean, D-Ill., and Ed Royce, R-Calif., are proponents of an OFC, he noted.

Humphreys did not quantify what a more reasonable pace would be but emphasized that more time is needed because this is a new proposal before the Senate.