The Senate Governmental Accountability Committee met Monday to discuss the Missouri Employees Mutual Insurance Company. This comes after two of its board members have recently been indicted for issues unrelated to the Company. Committee Chairman Senator Jim Lembke of St. Louis says the indictments called his attention to MEM but otherwise were not related to him calling the hearing.

MEM Interim President Jim Owen outlined how the Company has operated since it was created by the legislature in 1993. It went into business two years later.

One member of the MEM board is appointed by the Governor. Owen says after a court ruling in 1997 a process has been in place by which the board appoints an individual who is then voted on by policy holders. If approved, that person is recommended to the Governor, who then has the option of appointing him or her. Owen says the Company has referred to this as the Governor “confirming” MEM’s appointment. Lembke says that is not consistent with how the state operates, and is one thing he thinks the legislature should “tweak.”

Owen also stood by an earlier assertion that MEM is not subject to state open records laws…

MEM Interim President Jim Owen

The question of removing MEM’s federal tax exempt status was also raised, after the Board heard from a representative of a competitor who said it gives MEM an unfair advantage. Senator Lembke says the business environment has changed since 1993, and so that and other issues are due for review…

Senator Jim Lembke

Senator Lembke says he expects to have a report to the Senate President Pro Tem in a couple of weeks, and anticipates more hearings and debate during the next regular legislative session.