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Advocacy Around the Country

For the past several months we've been telling you about our first ever Political Involvement and Advocacy Month and District Lobbying Day that would...
September 6, 2006

A Recap of Political Involvement and Advocacy Month

By Kellie Bray
Assistant Vice President, Federal Affairs
PIA National

For the past several months we've been telling you about our first ever Political Involvement and Advocacy Month and District Lobbying Day that would take place in the month of August.  You heard our requests for PIA members around the country to get involved in political activity and you acted on it!

PIA members in 29 different states took time to communicate with their elected officials about issues of importance to professional independent insurance agents.  PIA members met with Members of Congress back at home in district offices, attended political events and sent email messages through PIA's Online Grassroots Action Center.

While PIA's annual Federal Legislative Summit each spring is a structured event where PIA members fly to Washington, D.C. to meet with Members of Congress and Congressional staff in their Capitol Hill offices, District Lobbying Day takes on a much more flexible format.  You will see from the following examples that no matter what form the advocacy takes, it all promotes the greater goal of increasing awareness of PIA and our issues.  Here are just a few examples from around the country:

Face-to-Face Meetings and Events

New York: Shelly Kozel of Lezok Ltd. in New York City and Martin Koles of M. Koles & Associates, LLC in Forest Hills, New York met with Senator Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) in his New York City district office. During the meeting Shelly and Martin discussed insurance regulation and the Senator's s support of an agenda that favors state regulation of the insurance industry. Senator Schumer is a member of the Senate Banking Committee that has jurisdiction over insurance matters.

North Dakota: North Dakota PIA members met with Senator Byron Dorgan's agriculture legislative assistant, Jeremy Bratt, in the PIA office in Bismarck.  The group talked about various crop insurance issues such as the next farm bill and to what extent it will include crop insurance. They also discussed personal T-yields, as well as the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the second round of the Doha trade talks as they relate to farm subsidies and crop insurance.

In another event during the month, the North Dakota PIA sponsored a refreshment break during a statewide Democrat Conclave on August 12th in Fargo. All statewide Democratic officeholders and candidates, as well as party loyalists, attended.  The guest speaker was Howard Dean, Chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

Emails from PIA National's Grassroots Action Center

Tennessee: June Jennings Cook, of Cook Insurance Group, LLC in Hixson TN emailed the text prepared by PIA and received a reply from Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist.  June says, "It was very easy to send the email.  I chose to get involved in District Lobbying Day because I believe there is strength in numbers and my number matters.  Yes, I'll be involved in the future.  It is important to stay in contact with Members of Congress because it is the lawmakers that affect our profession."

Virginia: H.B. "Hank" Kellam, President of Towne Insurance in Virginia Beach, saw immediate results from his email to his Congresswoman Thelma Drake. After receiving Hank's email in opposition to Optional Federal Charters for Insurance, the Congresswoman picked up the phone and called Hank directly to discuss this issue.  Hank stated that the Congresswoman had been hearing mixed signals from various other insurance groups so he was more than happy to share the perspective of a professional independent insurance agent.

No matter how you choose to get involved, whether it's by phone, email or in person, it's important to remember that your voice matters and the information and real world experience you provide is a valuable resource to Members of Congress.

It's not too late to act using PIA's Online Grassroots Action Center. Simply click here to act now!

Mark your calendars!  Political Involvement and Advocacy Month will be held next August too!  District Lobbying Day is already set for August 8, 2007.

Kellie Bray kelliebr@pianet.org is Assistant Vice President of Federal Affairs for PIA National.

PIA Connection

This article originally appeared in the September 2006 PIA Connection.