PIA Lauds Rep. Kelly’s Call for OCC to Justify Preemption Actions

January 26, 2004

The National Association of Professional Insurance Agents lauded Rep. Sue Kelly (R-NY) for demanding that the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) “publicly justify” rules that give only the OCC, and not the states, the right to examine and take enforcement action against national banks and their operating subsidiaries.

Rep. Kelly, chairwoman of the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, said her subcommittee would conduct a public hearing on the matter January 28. “The OCC is tasked with interpreting Congressional intent, and it will now have to justify its decision to Congress,” Kelly stated.

The ongoing dispute between state insurance regulators and the OCC over new OCC rules covering federally registered banks with insurance subsidiaries, which claim to preempt state provisions, continues to cause controversy. The PIA, along with other insurance industry associations, has previously criticized the new OCC rules, noting that they appear to apply to just one of the three sectors of the financial services industry as delineated in the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act of 1999.

PIA Senior Vice President Patricia A. Borowski said it does not appear the OCC intends to take on insurance and securities regulators, as well as banking regulators. “So banking entities that had recently called for federal-optional charter oversight for insurance should take heed not to over-play their hand through these rules changes,” she indicated. PIA Assistant Vice President of Federal Affairs Peter Bizzozero said the organization applauded “Representative Kelly’s action to investigate the manner in which the OCC finalized these rules.”

Shortly after the proposed rule was issued last summer, 50 state banking departments sent comment letters to the OCC and 50 state attorneys general signed on to a separate letter. Most all of the comment letters were also forwarded to members of Congress, asking that the OCC proposal be withdrawn pending congressional review. OCC finalized the rule despite these letters, and without incorporating any of the recommended changes. It’s scheduled to go into effect February 12.

Rep. Kelly will deliver the keynote address March 25 during the annual federal legislative summit held by PIA National.

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