An Oregon senator wants to narrow the international trade agreement negotiating authority that S. 3217 would give a proposed Office of National Insurance.
Sen. Jeffrey Merkley, D-Ore., has offered an amendment to S. 3217, the “Restoring Financial Stability Act of 2010,” that would replace the current ONI international agreement preemption provision.
The current version would authorize the ONI to help the Treasury secretary negotiate international trade agreements on “prudential measures,” or measurers relating to insurers’ overall financial stability. The ONI also would help the Treasury determine “whether state insurance measures are preempted by international insurance agreements on prudential measures.” The Treasury secretary could then block state laws that seemed to be inconsistent with international insurance agreements on prudential matters.
Merkley wants to replace that version of the preemption provision with narrower language that “would make preemption very difficult if not impossible to achieve” according to Tracey Laws, a senior vice president at the Reinsurance Association of America, Washington.
“We prefer the current approach in the Senate bill on the preemption language, but believe it could be improved with simple language making it clear that preemption cannot occur if it would result in a financial regulatory oversight gap or create an unlevel playing field for U.S. insurers,” says Jack Dolan, a spokesman for the American Council of Life Insurance, Washington.
The current version of S. 3217 also would give the ONI the authority to collect and analyze insurance data and to prepare a study for Congress on ideas for improving the insurance regulatory system.
Debate on S. 3217 is under way on the Senate floor. It is unclear when the amendment proposed by Merkley will be taken up.