Saturday, November 21, 2009

NCOIL To NAIC: Where’s the State Team?

By Jim Connolly
New Orleans
State insurance legislators here called out state insurance regulators for what they maintain was an unkept promise to hold a summit of state officials and create a state team to examine the possibility of an interstate compact to thwart the threat of federal insurance regulation.

During the annual meeting of the National Conference of Insurance Legislators, Troy, N.Y., the dialogue between NCOIL legislators and members of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, Kansas City, Mo., started with a discussion of a Systemic Risk bill advancing in Congress and how the latest version of a Federal Insurance Office concept is unacceptable to state legislators.

Ohio Insurance Director Mary Jo Hudson explained that FIO is “truly about information and not about regulation.” However, she did say to legislators on the NCOIL-NAIC dialogue panel that there are direct and indirect attempts to preempt state authority and that tone in Congress requires immediate action to carve out insurance from possible federal preemption.

But state legislators including state Rep. Bob Damron, D-Nicholasville-Ky.; Rep. George Keiser, R-Bismarck, N.D.; Rep. Brian Kennedy, D-Hopkinton, R.I. and Sen. Lena Taylor, D-Milwaukee, Wisc., asserted that commissioners had promised a summit of state legislators, regulators, attorneys general, and representatives from governors’ offices within two weeks after the fall NAIC meeting in National Harbor, Md. The summit was supposed to discuss the viability of creating a national insurance compact. They continued, that rather than create a state team, the NAIC was negotiating for itself without necessary input from other state constituents.

Hudson responded by saying that it was never the intent of NAIC to ignore a commitment and that she personally was unaware that such a commitment had been extended. But, she continued, since the proposal had been made, she would work to make it happen.

But, Taylor responded by saying that the issue “really goes to the point of whether you speak out of both sides of your mouth.” Later, she said that one’s word is one’s integrity and expressed doubt about how it is even possible to work with a group that didn’t follow through on a commitment.

Rep. Craig Eiland, D-Galveston, Texas, said that recommended that NCOIL either get a definite date when the summit would be sponsored by the NAIC or raise the issue at its executive committee meeting on Nov. 22 of how NCOIL could put one together.

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