NAIFA WA was represented well in Olympia on January 29th when dozens of members met there to discuss our business with legislators. On the same day, NAIFA WA was in Washington DC, on The Hill, doing the same thing. Richard Miller of NAIFA Central WA, Alex Collins of NAIFA Seattle/Eastside and Richard Ek of NAIFA Snohomish County met with staff working for five legislators in “The Other Washington.” We had spent the previous day in training with NAIFA leaders, lobbyists and other experts.
We met with the Chief of Staff for Representative Jim McDermott and legislative aides and directors for Representative Dave Reichert, Representative Susan DelBene, Senator Patty Murray and Senator Maria Cantwell. In every meeting we found the staff willing to listen to our message. Also, each office welcomes our contact with email updates on issues important to our clients (their constituents) and our industry. All indicated we were welcome to come back in April when NAIFA holds the Congressional Conference on the 8th and 9th. NAIFA expects to have close to 1,000 members for that event.
A few of the things we learned in the two days:
· Senators and Congressmen have an average of 13 meetings a day which means it is not easy to “see” them. Thus we meet with aides more often than not. Just the same, the elected officials rely heavily on the information gathered by their staff
· Ed Woods and his brother, Lawrence, met with President Wilson in 1913 and convinced him to amend the income tax legislation to give preferential tax treatment to the products we sell. We face the same challenges this year – it requires all NAIFA members to be involved by participating in the only political action committee that works for you every day; IFAPAC
· NAIFA CEO Susan Waters meets with HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and other top leaders to tell our story
· Brad Fitch talked about “learning to hug a porcupine,” about our rights guaranteed in the First Amendment which forbids “the making of any law prohibiting the petitioning for a governmental redress of grievances.”
· In-person visits from constituents are 5 times more effective than lobbyist’s visits
· HB 2758 came about after a patient in his doctor’s office was presented with paperwork to complete while he was undressed (clothed in an examination gown). The patient lobbied his congressman who authored what became known as the “Stark Naked Act of 1997.”
· Advocates using Social Media can influence legislation – 64% of legislators say they follow Facebook posts so follow your legislator! 20-30 comments on a topic gets their attention. They also follow Twitter
· The first and second lines of a letter (or email) are the most important. Establish your credentials and state your “ask.”
· NAIFA’s goal for 2013 is to have 13,000 contributors which means we need to broaden our base in Washington to about 400 or double what we now have
· In the words of Terry Headley, past President of NAIFA, “We practice practical politics” which means we contribute to members of both parties
None of you reading this are ignorant of the economic problems facing our government. You are also aware that our industry (life insurance, annuities, qualified plans, employee benefits) are seen by many in Washington as a potential revenue source. If they can wipe away the preferential tax treatments currently in place they believe a large percentage of the current debt can be paid. It is frustrating that too many in Washington have no idea how important our products and services are to their constituents/our clients: Middle Americans.What will YOU DO to join the other 197 IFAPAC participants in NAIFA WA? Will you sign up today? Will you add $10/month to help insure that your clients can continue to protect their families and businesses with life insurance? Will you help in the fight to retain the tax incentives that your clients enjoy when saving for retirement using life insurance, annuities and IRAs? Will you do what you can to help maintain the favorable tax treatment your clients have with their medical benefits?
We can’t say it enough – If Insurance Is Your Profession, Politics Is Your Business.