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PIA Congressional Summit Meetings Reveal Support for Our Issues

In the April 2007 edition of the PIA Connection, you read about PIA agents from across the country making their annual trip to Washington,...
May 20, 2007

But Margins on OFC, McCarran Mean We Can't Let Up!

By Kellie Bray
Assistant Vice President, Federal Affairs
PIA National

In the April 2007 edition of the PIA Connection, you read about PIA agents from across the country making their annual trip to Washington, D.C. to talk to their lawmakers about issues of importance to professional independent insurance agents.  Attendees reported back to PIA National staff about those meetings and here's what we learned.

Support for PIA Strong

The most outstanding statistic we found when tallying Congressional responses to PIA's issues of importance was that on the issues of Optional Federal Charters for insurance, which PIA opposes, and the repeal of the McCarran-Ferguson Act, which PIA also opposes, a narrow majority of legislators support PIA's position. The remainder are split between being opposed and not having a position. 

The good news is that for both issues, a majority of legislators with whom we met support PIA's stance on the issue (56% in the case of McCarran-Ferguson and 59% on the issue of Optional Federal Charters for Insurance).  This leaves a little over 20% opposed to PIA's stance, while another 20% of legislators did not take a position or have decided to remain neutral at this time.

Although we may never convince our biggest opponents to see the light and agree with us, we can work to persuade the 20% of those who are neutral now so that the vote does not swing to our opposition.  There is still work to be done!

Positions Voiced by Members of Congress at 2007 PIA Federal Legislative Summit

Grassroots Work!

Since legislation regarding terrorism insurance was first discussed immediately following the events of September 11th, PIA has conducted many grassroots campaigns to encourage PIA members around the country to contact their legislators to tell them how important a backstop for terrorism insurance is to them as independent insurance agents.  That work is paying off! 

Of the congressional visits made during the Federal Legislative Summit, 86% of legislators supported PIA's position to renew the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act and create a long-term solution to the issue.  Only 4% opposed PIA's position, while 9% were neutral on the issue.

It is critical that we ensure that an overwhelming majority continues to support a long-term renewal of TRIA and dedicate themselves to passage of legislation before the current extension expires at the end of this year.

Building on Success

How can we make sure that the statistics stay on our side year round for our most important issues?  That takes work from everyone committed to the business of professional, independent insurance agents.  Your staff in Washington, D.C. works daily to make your voice heard on Capitol Hill.  But each PIA member has a role to play as well.

Contact your Member of Congress to express to them your thoughts on issues of importance to independent agents.  You can do this at any time via phone, email, fax or better yet, in person. 

August Is PIA Month!

PIA's second annual District Lobbying Day will be held on August 8, 2007, part of our designation of the entire month of August as Political Involvement and Advocacy Month.

Once again this August, while Congress is on recess and our elected officials are back home in their district offices, PIA will be encouraging each PIA member to make an effort to engage their elected officials and Congressional candidates, to promote the points of view of Professional Insurance Agents and to forge relationships with those who serve them in Washington, D.C.  Each PIA affiliate can determine their own engagement with this turnkey initiative.

Of course, some PIA members won't be able to meet with their elected officials on August 8 itself, but we hope each member will find a day near August 8 to make these very important visits. PIA members will also be able to send targeted messages to their Members of Congress through PIANET.

District Lobbying Day and Political Involvement and Advocacy Month are part of what we call, "Capitol Hill in Your Backyard." We'll have more details as August draws closer.

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

PIA Connection

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