By Teddie Norton Reilly
The annual Big “I” Legislative Conference will take place April 27-29 at the Renaissance Washington, D.C. Downtown Hotel. During the conference, independent insurance agents and brokers from across the country will share their perspectives with legislators on issues important to the independent agency system.
Here are seven issues facing independent agents that will be a focus at this year’s conference:
1) Maintain tax fairness for small businesses.
The Big “I” supports H.R. 1381/S. 480, the “Main Street Tax Certainty Act,” which would make the 20% small business deduction permanent. The deduction, which is currently scheduled to expire at the end of 2025, is heavily relied upon by many Big “I” members to expand their small businesses, hire more employees and better serve their communities.
The Big “I” also opposes any attempts to increase taxes on small businesses, especially when many are still struggling because of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically, the Big “I” opposes efforts to cap or eliminate the small business deduction, raise individual and corporate rates, boost the capital gains rate, or make changes to stepped-up basis.
2) Secure a long-term reauthorization of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).
With the NFIP extended on a short-term basis, the Big “I” supports a long-term reauthorization of a modernized NFIP that would increase take-up rates, both in the NFIP and the private market.
Specifically, the Big “I” supports H.R. 4699, the “Continuous Coverage for Flood Insurance Act” and S. 2915, the “Flood Insurance Consumer Choice Act.” Both bills would allow for private flood insurance to satisfy continuous coverage requirements, which ensures that if consumers leave the NFIP for the private market and later must return, they can do so without penalty.
The Big “I” also opposes any policies that would harm the Write-Your-Own (WYO) Program including WYO reimbursement reductions. As FEMA continues the transition to Risk Rating 2.0, the Big “I” believes that if properly implemented it has the potential to improve the NFIP experience for agents and consumers. However, the regulatory rollout of the program will be critical in determining its success.
3) Protect the Federal Crop Insurance Program (FCIP).
The current Farm Bill expires in 2023 and it will be critical to support policies strengthening the stability and effectiveness of the FCIP. The Big “I” supports a strong and robust FCIP that provides certainty for our farmers and communities and will continue to oppose legislative and regulatory efforts to weaken the efficient and effective private sector delivery of crop insurance.
4) Oppose federal intrusion into insurance underwriting.
The Big “I” supports a strong and modernized state-based system of insurance regulation that protects consumers and drives innovation. As one of the staunchest defenders of the state-based regulatory system, the Big “I” opposes unwarranted attempts by the federal government to interfere in each state’s ability to regulate their respective markets. As a result, the Big “I” opposes H.R. 1270, the “Prohibit Auto Insurance Discrimination (PAID) Act,” which unduly preempts state oversight of automobile insurance underwriting.
5) Defend state regulation of data security for insurance consumers.
As a state-regulated industry that is already subject to a variety of federal data security statutory requirements, the Big “I” supports leaving data security standards and enforcement to state regulators who are in the best position to oversee the marketplace for insurance consumers. If Congress considers a national data security standard, it is important that any legislation be scalable and reasonable, while recognizing the significant differences between large and small businesses.
6) Preserve employer-sponsored health insurance.
It is imperative that Congress protect the employer-sponsored health care system for the more than 180 million Americans who depend on it. The Big “I” would object to any policies that damage the way that the majority of Americans receive their health insurance. As a result, the Big “I” opposes S. 386, the “Medicare-X Choice Act,” which would create a public option, and H.R. 1976, the “Medicare for All Act,” which would replace the current, employer-sponsored healthcare system and force all Americans into a one-size-fits-all government-run program.
7) Advocate for legal protections for independent insurance agents.
Despite being illegal at the federal level, many states offer medical marijuana, have decriminalized recreational marijuana, or have given full legal status to cannabis. The Big “I” supports H.R. 1996/S. 910, the “SAFE Banking Act,” which creates a safe harbor for agents and brokers who choose to do business with cannabis-related legitimate businesses in those states. This legislation would protect Big “I” members and other financial services providers from criminal and civil liability.
With a busy year ahead, the Big “I” is looking forward to having agents and brokers from across the country advocating on Capitol Hill.
Join us in April to bring your message to the Capitol! Register today to take advantage of the early-bird registration discount pricing by March 7. Also, don’t delay making your guest room reservations, as hotel accommodations fill up fast.
Teddie Norton Reilly is Big “I” director of government affairs operations.
The article was originally published on iamagzine.com and has been reposted/reprinted with permission. Click here to see the original publication.