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A Message from PIA's President

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Johnny Lee President's Message PicMarch 2014

Once again, it is time for PIA members to do one of the things that we do well—advocate for the things we value. As we prepare to gather in our nation's capital for the 2014 PIA Federal Legislative Summit (FLS), it can be helpful to review why we take time out of our busy schedules to participate in the political process.

We get involved because we care about how legislation that is debated in Congress can affect our agencies. We want to encourage our elected representatives to support legislation that will provide a better business climate and oppose proposals that would stifle competition.

When PIA members participate in the FLS, we don't just represent ourselves and our agencies, we represent our communities. Part of being a Main Street insurance agent is caring about our neighbors, many of whom are our clients. We want to do what we can to help ensure that what happens on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., helps or at least doesn't hurt, the folks back home.

This year, during our congressional visits we will focus on some key issues. Congress has just passed flood insurance legislation that provides needed rate relief. PIA successfully supported and advocated for the grandfathering and mitigation provisions that were included in H.R. 3370. Now, we will work with Congress to craft long-term solutions for putting the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP)—which PIA steadfastly supports—back on the road to fiscal stability in the coming years.

We will be telling our elected representatives of the need to reauthorize the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA) prior to its scheduled expiration at the end of this year. Due to the catastrophic nature of a terrorist attack, many insurers exclude terrorism coverage from their policies. TRIA offers a solution through what has been a very successful public/private partnership.

On healthcare reform, we will be making our case that Professional Insurance Agents are the best means of distributing health insurance products to the public, whether coverage is through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) or not, and that agents and brokers deserve to be fairly compensated for doing so.

Of course, we will be reminding lawmakers that PIA supports our modernized national system of state-based insurance regulation, which has protected policyholders, created the most successful insurance industry in the world and helped to mitigate the negative effects of the 2007-2009 financial crisis. Our message: PIA supports state tools, not federal tools, for insurance regulatory modernization efforts. As such, the Federal Insurance Office (FIO) should never be granted any regulatory authority over the business of insurance.

We will be thanking members of Congress for preserving and expanding the role of crop insurance in the just-passed Farm Bill. We will be also alerting them to President Obama’s attempt to undo this by slashing funding for crop insurance in his FY 2015 budget proposal, just 30 days after he signed the Farm Bill expanding crop insurance.

After last year’s FLS, past PIA National President Donna Pile said something that is very encouraging. Donna participates in the FLS every year. She said she has noticed that often members of Congress who may not support us at the outset end up coming around after meeting with PIA year after year.

PIA’s persistence is having the intended effect. We are gaining ground, our views are being heard, we are shaping legislation and we are respected as what we are: major players on Capitol Hill.

John G. Lee
President