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NCOIL Asks House To Reject OII Bill

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The leaders of the National Conference of Insurance Legislators are continuing to fight an Office of Insurance Information bill that may be nearing the House floor.

A preliminary House calendar released Friday shows the OII bill, H.R. 5840, the Insurance Information Act of 2008, could come to the House floor Tuesday or Wednesday.

The OII bill would create an insurance information office within the U.S. Treasury Department.

The leaders of NCOIL, Troy, N.Y., sent copies of a letter opposing the OII bill Friday to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and to every other House member.

Enacting the OII bill “will lead to a dangerous optional federal charter for insurance regulation…that will unravel the strong consumer protections embedded in state-based insurance regulation,” NCOIL leaders write in the letter.

A Senate version of H.R. 5840 has not yet been introduced.

To approve H.R. 5840 now, without the existence of a Senate companion bill, “would only serve to embolden [the bill's] supporters in the next Congress and dissuade a thorough dialogue about [the bill's] ultimate impact,” NCOIL leaders write. “If passed, it would irreparably alter the face of insurance regulation.”

“Even more troubling, the [full] House Committee on Financial Services has yet to debate H.R. 5840,” NCOIL leaders write.

Only a third of the members of the House Subcommittee on Capital Markets, Insurance and Government Sponsored Enterprises were voting when the subcommittee approved the bill, NCOIL leaders write.

The list of NCOIL officials 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.