WASHINGTON - The Independent Insurance Agents of America announced Tuesday that 16 states have enacted licensing reform legislation provided for in the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act of 1999.

The federal law obliges state insurance commissioners to form a licensing agency, to be called the National Association of Registered Agents and Brokers, unless 29 states enact certain licensing reforms by November 2002. The agents group said Rhode Island and North Dakota recently became the 15th and 16th states to do so.

The Gramm-Leach-Bliley law has "created a strong incentive for the states to reinvent the current multistate licensing process," said Ronald A. Smith, the agents' government affairs committee chairman.

"To their credit, state insurance commissioners and state legislators have stepped up to the plate to deliver the reforms necessary to head off the creation of this quasi-federal regulatory agency," Mr. Smith said.

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