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Congressman Mike Ross Named Big "I" Legislator of the Year

Blue Dog Coalition Leader Hailed as a Fiscal Watchdog and Small Business Advocate



WASHINGTON, D.C. – March 4, 2010 —The Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (the Big “I”) recognized Rep. Mike Ross (D-Ark.) as the Gerald Solomon-IIABA Legislator of the Year for 2009. The award was presented yesterday during the annual Leadership Luncheon, just prior to the Big “I” Legislative Conference & Convention, and Rep. Ross presented the keynote address.
 
Rep. Ross chairs the Blue Dog Health Care Task Force and was instrumental in ensuring the House health care bill included independent insurance agents and brokers in proposed “exchanges.”
 
“We don’t need a 2000 page bill that nobody understands, including members of Congress,” said Rep. Ross. He also discussed three items he says need to be done in this area: 1) health insurance reform, 2) a way for the uninsured and small businesses to have access to health care, and 3) cost containment. Rep. Ross voted against the House bill and said, “The best thing we can do is start over.” The Big “I” supports this position.
 
His address also included discussion of the recent banking bailout, taxes, the number of bills with House passage that are currently pending before the Senate and the filibuster process in the Senate which he said stalls progress.
 
During the luncheon, he also announced that earlier that day he co-sponsored a Balanced Budget Constitutional amendment. He discussed the history of America’s debt, his hesitation to amend the nation’s founding document and said, “Folks, we’ve got to get this house back in order.”
 
“Rep. Ross is a true Blue Dog Democrat who practices what he preaches,” said Robert A. Rusbuldt, Big “I” president and CEO in presenting the award. “Mike is us. He’s a former independent agent from Arkansas and has a great background as an independent agent who knows the industry very well.”
 
The Legislator of the Year Award is bestowed annually by the Big “I” upon a member of Congress who has provided outstanding leadership on insurance issues. It is named as a tribute to the late Congressman Gerald Solomon (R-N.Y.), the former House Rules Committee chairman and Big “I” member who championed independent agent and broker legislative concerns during his 20 years in the U.S. House of Representatives.
 
Rep. Mike Ross (D-Ark.) serves on the powerful House Committee on Energy and Commerce (including the Energy, Health and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittees) and the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Viewed as a rising star, his leadership skills and workhorse approach have been hailed in Washington and by his party since he was first elected to Congress in 2000. Ross is in his fifth term and represents the Natural State’s fourth congressional district, which includes the southern region of the state. Rep. Ross is a former insurance agent and Big “I” member.
 
The event took place at the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center and attendees included Big “I” executive and government affairs committee members, agents and brokers from Rep. Ross’s home state of Arkansas and other industry leaders.
 
The Big “I” Legislative Conference and Convention will take place March 3-5 at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington, D.C. Highlights will include in-depth issues briefing sessions; appearances by numerous high-profile speakers discussing important insurance and national issues confronting lawmakers as well as agents and brokers; a CEO panel comprised of top carrier presidents & CEOs (CNA, The Hartford, Fireman’s Fund and Safeco will participate) and hundreds of meetings on Capitol Hill between Big “I” agents and brokers and their elected representatives in the Congress.
 
For registration and hotel information, go to www.independentagent.com and select the “Events and Conferences” link. Journalists interested in attending should contact Margarita Tapia, director of public affairs, at (800) 221-7917 or margarita.tapia@iiaba.net for media registration.
 
Founded in 1896, 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, health, employee benefit plans and retirement products. Web address: www.independentagent.com.
 
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