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PIA Members Set to Converge on Capitol Hill for Annual Federal Legislative Summit

WASHINGTON, March 31, 2006 - Members of the National Association of Professional Insurance Agents (PIA National) are set to convene on Capitol Hill...
March 31, 2006

Opposition to Optional Federal Charter, Support of Natural Catastrophe Plan Top List of Issues for Professional Insurance Agents April 5-6

WASHINGTON, March 31, 2006  - Members of the National Association of Professional Insurance Agents (PIA National) are set to convene on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. on April 5 and 6, 2006 for the association's 24th annual Federal Legislative Summit.

The 2006 PIA Federal Legislative Summit is a gathering of PIA members from around the nation who spend the day meeting with their elected representatives to advance the views and positions of professional insurance agents.

"One of our main issues during this summit is PIA's strong opposition to renewed proposals for optional federal charters for insurers," said PIA National President Ray L. Peretti. "Proposals for optional federal charters are like indigestion - something bad that has a tendency to keep coming back.  PIA members will be telling their Members of Congress that we oppose optional federal charters, along with anything else that would undermine our system of state-based, functional regulation of insurance, which we support."

"As we gather for the 2006 PIA Federal Legislative Summit, PIA is in the midst of marking our 75th Anniversary year," Peretti noted. "It is especially fitting PIA members will be doing what we have done so well for three quarters of a century - advocating for professional independent insurance agents on Capitol Hill."

The summit begins April 5 with an in-depth legislative briefing and Q&A session conducted by PIA lobbyists and congressional staffers, held at the Marriott Crystal City in Arlington, Virginia, PIA's headquarters hotel.

The following morning, April 6, participants will gather at the Washington Court Hotel on Capitol Hill for a breakfast program featuring remarks by PIA leaders, a primer on issues by PIA National government affairs staff and briefings by Members of Congress. Then, it's off to Capitol Hill for a full day of scheduled meetings with lawmakers in their Capitol Hill offices. At day's end, a reception for all Summit participants will be held in the U.S. House of Representatives' Rayburn building. That night, the PIA Political Action Committee (PIAPAC) holds its annual fundraising dinner.

"This year has seen a renewed push by advocates of federal insurance regulation to revive a proposal that has fortunately languished since it was first introduced in the Senate in 1976, optional federal charters for insurers," said PIA National Executive Vice President & CEO Len Brevik. "It needs to stay dead. PIA supports state-based functional regulation of insurance. PIA opposes an optional federal charter and supports modernization of the state system."

PIA's policy stances are in response to a complex dynamic, according to a briefing for PIA participants prepared by PIA Senior Vice President Patricia A. Borowski.

"The push for optional federal charters (OFC) or aspects of the State Modernization and Regulatory Transparency (SMART) Act is just a stalking horse to draw attention away from the real case being made for federalizing and reclassifying the business of insurance, including insurance law," Borowski said. "And the real powers leading this federal push are the banks and securities industries, along with their regulators."

PIA members will also advocate for the creation of a national natural catastrophe plan that supports the availability, affordability and stability of property insurance in catastrophe prone areas, as well as the economic viability of local communities. In September 2005, the PIA National Board of Directors unanimously endorsed creation of such a plan, one that is national in scope and structured as a federal-state-private partnership.

"Our members and their clients in the Gulf Coast states have suffered greatly as the result of hurricanes, especially Hurricane Katrina," said PIA National Vice President/Treasurer Robert Page of Houma, Louisiana. "Now in 2006, the time has come for a serious national discussion on comprehensive natural disaster preparedness."

Other issues PIA members will focus on during the two-day summit include long-term solutions for terrorism insurance, reform of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and crop insurance. 

"PIA's annual legislative summit is an important part of our year-round program of legislative advocacy," said Jon D. Spalding, Chairman of the PIA National Federal Affairs Committee. "There is no better way to forge and maintain relationships with lawmakers than to do it up-close and personal."

Founded in 1931, and celebrating its 75th anniversary in 2006, PIA is a national trade association that represents member insurance agents and their employees who sell and service all kinds of insurance, but specialize in coverage of automobiles, homes and businesses. PIA members are Local Agents Serving Main Street America.

For a complete overview of the 2006 PIA Federal Legislative Summit including a schedule of events, click here. 

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