WASHINGTON BUREAU — A bill that would create an Office of Insurance Information within the Treasury Department was introduced Friday by Rep. Paul Kanjorski.
H.R. 2609, the Insurance Information Act of 2009, uses language from the OII bill that Kanjorski, D-Pa., introduced in 2008. The earlier OII bill died on the House floor in September 2008.
Kanjorski, D-Pa., is chairman of the House Financial Services Capital Markets, Insurance, and Government Sponsored Enterprises Subcommittee.
Six members of the House Financial Services Committee, including Rep. Judy Biggert, R-Ill., the highest-ranking Republican member of the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, have joined as original cosponsors of the new OII bill.
As proposed in H.R. 2609, the OII would collect and analyze data on insurance; advise the Treasury secretary on major domestic and international policy issues; report to Congress every two years; establish federal policy on international insurance matters; and ensure that state insurance laws remain consistent with federal policy in coordinating international trade agreements.
The bill would also establish an advisory group to help inform and advise the head of the insurance information office. Members of the advisory group would include state regulators, consumer groups and other parties in the insurance industry.
The OII would help Congress and the federal government make better decisions regarding national and international insurance policy, Kanjorski says.
“While most other pieces of the national economy have some sort of knowledge center within the federal government, insurance currently stands without a central office,” Kanjorski says in a statement.
Biggert says she is joining as lead cosponsor because an OII would help “to guide and inform federal policymakers on insurance matters while preserving sound regulatory practices and consumer protections that are currently working well at the state level, as in Illinois.”
The new OII bill is being introduced as the Obama administration prepares to propose changes in the overall financial regulatory system.
In testimony before a House Appropriations Committee subcommittee Thursday, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said a broad set of regulatory change proposals should soon be ready to be unveiled. A proposal for creating a new financial protection consumer products entity could be part of the package.