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PIA Agents Bring Capitol Hill to Their Backyards

As this is being written, we are into the home stretch of the second annual PIA Month. While the final figures have yet to...
August 28, 2007

A Recap of Political Involvement and Advocacy Month

By Kellie Bray
Assistant Vice President, Federal Affairs
PIA National

As this is being written, we are into the home stretch of the second annual PIA Month. While the final figures have yet to be compiled, we already know that again this year, PIA members from coast to coast got involved, lobbying their elected officials during the month of August.

Getting our message out is even more important this year. That's because of the broad, organized campaign now underway by the supporters of optional federal charters to tear down the structure of our industry and replace it with a new structure under federal regulation that would put Professional Insurance Agents at a competitive disadvantage.

Our message to Members of Congress is clear all year around: a vote for federal regulation of insurance is a vote against insurance consumers and all the Main Street insurance agents in their district.

August Advocacy

Starting last year, PIA decided to declare the entire month of August as the focus of a major, nationwide in-district lobbying push by PIA members.

August is the time when Members of Congress are home in their districts, getting back in touch with their constituents on legislative matters. They also use August to do something high on their list of priorities: campaign for their own re-election.  Since they are actively seeking our support, there's no better time to contact them and let them know that we need their support.

Once again this year, you heard our call to take action and you did it!

PIA members around the country met with Members of Congress in district offices, attended political events and sent email messages through PIA's online Grassroots Action Center.

District Lobbying Day, the highlight of PIA Month, takes on a much more flexible format than the annual PIA Federal Legislative Summit held each Spring, when PIA members from across the country gather on Capitol Hill to meet personally with their Representatives and Senators.

For some, meeting with their elected officials didn't work out for the designated August 8, and that's fine!  Many meetings continued to be held throughout the month at times that were convenient for PIA members and elected officials.  And that's the point - advocacy shouldn't just occur on one or two days a year.  The issues that are important to insurance agents are ongoing throughout the year and so should our dedication to making our perspective known.

Everyone Is a Lobbyist

You may shudder when you read that statement, but it's true. I often like to say that if you've ever tried to convince someone to see your point of view and agree with you because you know you are right - whether it be on what restaurant you should dine at or convincing a prospective client that you are the independent agent for them - then congratulations, you are a lobbyist.
 
This is certainly not a bad thing! You discuss facts and reality each day with your clients in an effort to help best insure them.  Sharing your point of view and the reality of how legislation will affect you either positively or negatively with your elected officials, helps insure your future in the insurance industry.

Make PIA Month Work for You

It's great to see the ways that PIA members take hold of PIA Month and District Lobbying Day and make it work for them.  Some choose to send an email through the Grassroots Action Center and others make personal visits either on their own or in a coordinated group with other PIA members.

One great example included a PIA member anxious to take part in his first face-to-face meeting with his elected representative getting connected with a veteran PIA member to attend the meeting together.  This is not only a great example of advocacy, but of the mentoring that is so valuable in this association.

Let us know if you participated in PIA Month activities or District Lobbying Day! We want to hear your stories and share them with other PIA members.  You can share feedback with us by going to the "online feedback form" at www.PIANET.com/DLD.  Here you can let us know what you did during PIA Month.

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.

Mark your calendars!  Political Involvement and Advocacy Month will be held next August too!  District Lobbying Day is already set for August 6, 2008.

PIA Connection

This article originally appeared in the September 2007 issue of PIA Connection.