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Election Year 2004: Be An Agent in Action!

Have you made your political plans for 2004? Each new year brings new challenges, opportunities and responsibilities. The fact that 2004 is an election...
January 20, 2004

Now is the Time to Make Your Own Political Plans

By Kellie Bray
Director of Political Affairs
PIA National

Have you made your political plans for 2004?

Each new year brings new challenges, opportunities and responsibilities. The fact that 2004 is an election year means that PIA members across the nation should make their political plans.

You say you don't have to make your political plans because you're not running for anything? Your name may not be on a ballot, but the future of your agency is. This year we will elect a President of the United States, the entire U.S. House of Representatives, one-third of the U.S. Senate along with many governors and state lawmakers.

Now is the time for you, as a PIA member, to make your own political plan for this crucial election year. What can one agent do? A lot.

You have probably seen our PIA "Agents in Action" logo before. The Capitol dome with the words Agents in Action combine to show the importance of political action among independent insurance agents. Most often this logo is used in promotional material for PIA National's Federal Legislative Summit held each spring. But being an Agent in Action should not happen just once a year.

Being an active participant in the legislative process can be as much or as little as you would like. The most important thing is to get involved in the legislative process. By merely sitting on the sidelines, you leave the fate of your business in the hands of others.

Here are a few suggestions on how you can become an Agent in Action:

Consider Running for Office

The first thing you should consider is running for elective office yourself. That's the most direct way to ensure that your knowledge, expertise and professional point of view are used to shape legislation that will affect our industry. If you have ever thought that someday you might want to get personally involved by becoming a candidate yourself, we urge you to do so. Your PIA National political staff can provide you with advice on how to go about it. Just give us a call.

If you are not yet prepared to throw your hat into the ring, then you should resolve to bump up your personal political involvement to the next level. There are many ways to do it.

Attend the PIA Federal Legislative Summit

On March 25, 2004 PIA members from throughout the country will converge on the nation's capital for the annual PIA Federal Legislative Summit. This is your chance to take action and meet with your senators and representatives.

Even if you've never lobbied before, you can have a profound impact on shaping the opinion of lawmakers and staff that you meet. As a constituent of their district and state, you share a "real world" perspective on the laws that are passed in Washington. Lawmakers also know that constituents who care enough to travel to Washington, D.C. to make their case in person are people who care enough to vote.

Register to Vote

And speaking of voting, don't forget that this is an election year and the most important thing you can do an as American citizen is exercise your right to vote. If you are not registered to vote, do so today!

Communicate with Your Elected Representatives

As issues of importance to PIA members develop throughout the year, PIA National staff sends out grassroots action alerts to encourage PIA members to call, write or visit Members of Congress and relay the views and concerns of independent agents.

When you receive those alerts - take action!

Make sure your elected representatives know you and your business. Schedule a visit to the Member of Congress' district office while he/she is at home during Congressional recess. It's your responsibility to help your elected officials understand how the issues before them affect the people they represent.

Contribute to PIAPAC

The success of the Professional Insurance Agents Political Action Committee (PIAPAC) comes from PIA members who participate in the political process and present a unified political force for the agency system.

Anyone can contribute money directly to a candidate. However, most individuals can't afford to give an amount that would have a major impact on the candidate. That's why volunteer contributions to PIAPAC are "pooled" by independent agents to help elect those on Capitol Hill who share PIA's views.

Show your commitment to your insurance agency and its future by becoming an Agent in Action!

If you would like more information about PIAPAC, please contact Kellie Bray, Director of Political Affairs, at kelliebr@pianet.org   or (703) 518-1364.

This article originally appeared in the January 2004 PIA Connection.