The 2021 Conference will be held April 13-16 and will include addresses from members of Congress, a legislative update on key independent agent issues and more. Here is a preview of the issues Big “I” members will bring to Capitol Hill.
The 2021 Big “I" Virtual Legislative Conference will be held April 13-16. The conference will begin each day at 2 p.m. ET. Segments will include addresses from members of Congress, a legislative update on key independent agent issues and more. Big “I" members will also have an opportunity to discuss these issues during virtual meetings with members of Congress.
Here is a preview of the issues Big “I" members will bring to Capitol Hill:
Maintain small business tax fairness. 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 is currently scheduled to expire at the end of 2025. The Big “I" also opposes any attempts to increase taxes on small businesses, especially when many small businesses are struggling as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically, the Big “I" would oppose efforts to raise individual or corporate rates, boost the capital gains rate, or increase the social security payroll tax cap.
Oppose federal intrusion into insurance regulation. 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 legislative or regulatory attempts 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 into insurance underwriting.
Secure a long-term flood insurance reauthorization. With the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) currently expiring at the end of September, 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 allowing private flood insurance to satisfy NFIP 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" opposes any policies that would harm the Write-Your-Own (WYO) Program, including WYO reimbursement reductions.
Concerns with the PRO Act. The Big “I" is concerned with the impact of the House-passed H.R. 842, the “Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act", on the independent agency system and agents' ability to serve their clients because the legislation could result in the reclassification of some independent agents from independent contractors to employees. Consequently, the Big “I" is asking for an exemption for individuals who are registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) or a self-regulatory organization (SRO) or are regulated or subject to regulation by a state's securities or insurance regulator.
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. As a result, the Big “I" opposes any policies that would damage the way that the majority of Americans receive their health insurance including, S. 386, the “Medicare-X Choice Act", which would create a public option.
Defend the Federal Crop Insurance Program (FCIP). The Big “I" supports a strong and robust FCIP to provide certainty for our farmers and communities. The Big “I" will continue to oppose legislative and regulatory efforts to weaken the efficient and effective private sector delivery of crop insurance.
Responding to future pandemics. The Big “I" supports congressional consideration of proposals to cover business losses from future pandemics and believes that there is an important role for the insurance market to play. However, any federal solution—whether it is the Pandemic Risk Insurance Act (PRIA), the Business Continuity Protection Program (BCPP) or otherwise—must work for both the policyholder and insurance communities and have significant federal financial support.
Advocating for legal protections for independent insurance agents. Despite being illegal at the federal level, many states permit medical marijuana, have decriminalized recreational marijuana, or both. The Big “I" supports legislation that creates a safe harbor for agents and brokers who choose to do business with cannabis-related legitimate businesses. Any such legislation would protect Big “I" members from criminal and civil liability.
With a busy year ahead, the Big “I" is looking forward to agents and brokers from across the country participating in the 2021 Big “I" Virtual Legislative Conference and raising these important issues with your elected federal representatives.
Registration is free to all participants thanks to the support of our generous company sponsors. More information can be found at independentagent.com/events.
Teddie Norton Reilly is Big “I" director of government affairs operations.
New COVID-19 Relief Package Signed into Law
On March 11, President Biden signed his $1.9 trillion COVID relief package into law. The bill was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives on March 10 in a 220-211 vote with no Republican support. The U.S. Senate had previously passed the legislation in a 50-49 party-line vote using the reconciliation process.
The legislation will provide an additional $1,400 in stimulus checks to eligible Americans and a $300-a-week boost in supplemental federal unemployment aid. The bill will also provide assistance to those who want to remain on their employer health insurance plans through COBRA by covering laid-off workers' entire premium through the end of September 2021.
The legislation also includes an additional $50 billion for small businesses including a new $28.6 billion grant program for restaurants and bars, an additional $7.25 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and an additional $15 billion in aid through the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program.
The legislation was stripped of its provision to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour when the Senate Parliamentarian ruled that the provision violated the Senate's reconciliation rules. Additionally, the plan also calls for $350 billion in funding for state and local governments, $20 billion for a national vaccine program and $50 billion for COVID-19 testing.
Wyatt Stewart is Big “I" assistant vice president of federal government affairs.