WASHINGTON, D.C., April 27, 2015—U.S. House of Representatives Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-Louisiana) delivered a keynote address to the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (IIABA or the Big “I”) membership at its annual Legislative Conference.
During his remarks, Majority Whip Scalise discussed numerous topics of importance to the Big “I” including the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), Affordable Care Act (ACA), and tax reform. He spoke to the largest annual gathering of Big “I” members, representing all 50 states and several foreign countries, just minutes before they embarked to Capitol Hill for the annual lobbying day.
Louisiana faced numerous legislative battles after Hurricane Katrina, which Rep. Scalise discussed since he was also at the forefront of the action during the NFIP debates on Capitol Hill.
“There were a lot of proposals that sounded real populist that would have depleted our insurance market in our state,” Rep. Scalise said. “We were able to hold back on those and bring more insurance companies to help write policies. It was critical to the rebuilding and recovery from that terrible disaster.”
Now the third highest ranking Republican in the House, Rep. Scalise is using his experience to help reform the NFIP. “We were able to change [Biggert-Waters] and put real stability in place with those reforms,” Rep. Scalise said. “We’re already starting to meet with Republicans and Democrats to work on the next iteration of the renewal of the flood insurance program.”
In addition to flood insurance reform, Rep. Scalise emphasized the importance of legislation to remedy some of the problems associated with the ACA, which contains provisions he said have prompted a large shift in full-time to part-time employees.
“The Cadillac tax is something that’s going to ultimately make it harder for people to provide the good health care they provide for their employees,” Rep. Scalise said, urging agents to pay close attention to the upcoming King v. Burwell Supreme Court decision. “If the Supreme Court does what I think they should do, in saying the federal government can’t subsidize a federal exchange in the health care marketplace, it will provide a great opportunity for Congress to come back and replace what is broken with a real free market reform.”
Rep. Scalise also discussed the navigator debate. “We’re going to reign in this whole navigator process that’s created all kinds of problems and let you be back in charge of working with people to find the best plans for them and their families—and at the best cost,” he said.
Noting that these big issues affect real people and real families, Rep. Scalise added that he hears from small businesses that their biggest challenges involve federal rules and regulations.
“As we come up with alternatives and solutions to solve problems, we want to know what the things are that we can do to help you just go do your jobs, get more clients and generate more opportunities for people,” Rep. Scalise said.
“The Big ‘I’ was honored that House Majority Whip Scalise addressed our association just as agents and brokers embarked on the Hill to discuss some of the very issues he touched on,” says Robert A. Rusbuldt, Big “I” president and CEO. “His outlook on important insurance, business, and economic issues as our agents prepared to meet with their elected representatives was a huge benefit and we thank him for sharing his perspectives. Steve Scalise has lived many of the insurance issues facing his constituents and Louisiana, so he brings a first-hand perspective to the leadership and Congress.”
Majority Whip Scalise was first elected to the House in 2008 and is currently serving a 5th term representing Louisiana’s first congressional district which includes much of the state’s southeastern region. He was first elected to serve as Majority Whip in June of 2014 and serves on the powerful Energy and Commerce Committee. The rising political star has also served as chairman of the Republican Study Committee, a caucus of more than 170 conservative House members. Rep. Scalise was a member of the Louisiana House and the Louisiana Senate from 1996 to 2008 and previously worked as a systems engineer. He earned a bachelor of science in computer science with a minor in political science from Louisiana State University.
“House Majority Whip Scalise’s leadership has been instrumental in ushering important insurance legislation through Congress including an extension of TRIA, creation of NARAB II and a bill of particular importance to the state of Louisiana: the Homeowner’s Flood Insurance Affordability Act (HFIAA) which made important changes to the Biggert-Waters flood insurance law,” says Charles E. Symington, Jr., Big “I” senior vice president for external and government affairs. “His commitment to small business and insurance consumers has been exemplary throughout his public service.”
Rep. Scalise was a keynote speaker at the legislative conference breakfast which occurs just prior to the association’s annual Big “I” Day on Capitol Hill. Every year, agents and brokers visit Capitol Hill offices to educate members of the Senate, House and their staff on issues that directly impact independent insurance agents, brokers and the consumers they serve. The Big “I” Legislative Conference is the insurance industry’s best-attended, most effective legislative meeting and took place April 22-24 at the Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill.
The event also featured remarks by U.S. Sen. Heidi Heinkamp (D-North Dakota) and the presentation of several association honors including the Woodworth Award and the Fulwilder Award.
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 approximately a quarter of a million 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.