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Clyburn, Collins Address Big "I" Legislative Conference

Elected leaders discuss economy, insurance and small business issues



WASHINGTON, D.C., April 3, 2008—House Majority Whip Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.) and Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) addressed 1,200 independent insurance agents and brokers at the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America’s (the Big “I”) Legislative Conference & Convention this morning.

Clyburn discussed the current financial crisis and the economic stimulus package. “We kept small businesses in mind….and we came out with a bill that was pretty good,” he says. “Especially after Ben Bernanke’s discussion on the Hill yesterday, we’re going to need to take a second look (at the economic stimulus package).”

On agent licensing, Clyburn noted that he stood ready to assist in passing H.R. 5611, the NARAB Reform Act or NARAB II. “I plan to work with Rep. Scott to get the legislation passed---legislation that will make your job easier,” he said. “That’s my job.”

Clyburn says he has not endorsed a Democratic presidential primary candidate, but he did predict that delegates from Florida and Michigan will be seated at the convention, even if they do not have full voting rights. “The fact of the matter is republicans also punished Florida by decreasing delegates by 50%,” he said. “You cannot reward bad behavior.”

Collins said it is critical for independent agents and brokers to share their insights and experience with members of Congress so that they understand the complex issues facing the insurance industry. “Your involvement makes a critical difference --- but members of Congress are always going to listen more closely to those who vote for them,” she said.

Collins commended agents for their involvement in beating back the McCarran-Ferguson Antitrust Repeal. “The threat is still out there, the bill is still alive, but I think the momentum out there has severely diminished,” she said.

Characterizing it as the hottest insurance issue in Congress right now, Collins said that optional federal charter (OFC) proposals are gaining momentum due to the Paulson blueprint released earlier this week. “Certainly ongoing struggles in the financial sector need to be addressed,” she said, “but I don’t believe it justifies expanding the reach of the federal government into the insurance industry…I believe the present system of state regulation largely works and the answer to that system is not concentrating more power in Washington, D.C.”

Rep. Clyburn and Sen. Collins are two of several prominent political leaders speaking to agents and brokers at the Big “I” event. Highlights of the Big “I” Legislative Conference and Convention include an in-depth issues briefing session; appearances by numerous high profile speakers and hundreds of meetings on Capitol Hill between Big “I” agents and brokers and their elected representatives in Congress. 

Founded in 1896, IIABA (the Big “I”) is the nation’s oldest and largest national association of independent insurance agents and brokers, representing a network of more than 300,000 agents, brokers and their employees nationally. Its members are businesses that offer customers a choice of policies from a variety of insurance companies. Independent agents and brokers offer all lines of insurance—property, casualty, life and health—as well as employee benefit plans and retirement products. Web address: www.independentagent.com.

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