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Optional federal charter is much-needed reform


SEN. JOHN SUNUNU, R-N.H., thinks that the Senate Banking Committee can approve a bill that would allow insurers and producers to seek new federal charters, rather than state charters, by the end of the year.

We hope he's right.

As we report on page 1, Sens. Sununu and Tim Johnson, D-S.D., introduced their National Insurance Act last week. The idea that insurers and producers should be allowed to choose federal rather than state regulation is both sound and overdue. We've argued for years that the current state-based regulatory system, which was designed in response to the realities of the 19th century, can't meet the demands of a 21st century global economy. We've seen nothing over those years to change our mind.

Both senators deserve commendation for introducing this bill relatively early in the session. Even though optional federal regulation strikes us as commonsensical, significant political hurdles stand between now and enactment.

Enactment won't be easy, but we're already nearly a decade into the 21st century. There is no good reason insurance regulation shouldn't get there, and get there quickly as well.