Assemblymember Levine Introduces Legislation to Restore Ethics and Transparency at the Department of Insurance

For immediate release:

(SACRAMENTO, CA) – Amidst continuing failures by the Department of Insurance (Department) to maintain public access to government records and efforts to limit public disclosure of communications between insurance industry advocates and the Department, Assemblymember Marc Levine (D – Marin County) today announced a legislative package designed to restore ethics and transparency to a state agency plagued by scandal.

 

AB 2323 (Levine) would prohibit ex parte communications between the Insurance Commissioner, Department staff and an interested party unless the commissioner and Department staff disclose those communications on the Department’s website. These ex parte communications would be required to be published on a quarterly basis. AB 2370 (Levine) would require all state agencies to retain emails and other public records for a minimum of two years. 

 

In late 2021, the Department of Insurance attempted to institute an email retention policy under which all emails would automatically delete after 180 days unless manually archived. Such records are essential to ensure that insurance companies are living up to their promises to protect consumers and that the Department is acting properly in regulating the nation’s largest insurance market. AB 2370 conforms current local government record retention requirements of at least two years, to all state agencies. Such a change will increase public confidence in the actions of state agencies and make public information more easily accessible to those who request it.

 

In 2020, the Department of Insurance and the Insurance Commissioner engaged in a series of ex parte communications with two former legislators regarding an insurance company seeking to relocate out of state. Communications between the commissioner and the former legislators were withheld from public review, resulting in a 2021 lawsuit by a consumer protection organization, demanding disclosure of the information. AB 2323 would require ex parte communications to the Insurance Commissioner or their staff be disclosed on the Department’s website on a quarterly basis. This disclosure is critical to ensure that the public has access to often sensitive information shared between the commissioner, Department staff and regulated entities. AB 2323’s disclosure requirements would protect consumers and hold insurance companies accountable for attempts to secretly influence decisions at the Department of Insurance.

 

“The Department of Insurance has failed us in many ways over the past three years,” said Assemblymember Marc Levine. “Californians need to regain trust in the Department of Insurance and have faith that the public officials entrusted to protect consumers are fighting for them, not for insurance companies. AB 2323 and AB 2370 are important tools necessary to restore ethics and transparency in the Department of Insurance and continue the Department’s mission to fight for consumers across the state.”

 

AB 2323 (Levine) and AB 2370 (Levine) will be considered by the State Assembly this Spring.

 

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