Jan. 20--The head of the state Insurance Division has been suspended without pay for 10 days because he allowed employees to leave work an hour early. On Christmas Eve. During a snowstorm. Oh, and he missed a meeting when he was on a scheduled vacation day.
If taxpayers and voters needed any more assurance they did the right thing when they approved a constitutional amendment removing the Insurance Division from the political shenanigans of the Public Regulation Commission, they just got it. New Mexicans do not need their insurance rates and rules based on what strings five politicians with varied agendas decide to pull on a given day.
John Franchini is the current insurance superintendent, and the only one in the agency's 16 years under the PRC who hasn't been fired or forced to resign. Yet.
This latest disciplinary action is proof positive the New Mexico Legislature must honor the intent of voters and lawmakers alike and approve the bipartisan House Bill 45, enabling legislation that puts last fall's Constitutional Amendment No. 4 into practice. The amendment -- which passed the House on a unanimous 68-0 vote, the Senate 38-2, and garnered 330,873 yes votes at the polls -- removes the Insurance Division on July 1 from the PRC and provides for an independent Office of the Superintendent of Insurance.
When that happens, the Insurance Division will finally be able to focus on complex actuarials, law and the entities, items or services that insurance covers. For now, Franchini's suspension shows it remains haunted by the ghosts of PRCs past.
This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.
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