VLTA Committee Update
by James A. Pickral, Jr., Pickral Consulting, LLC
June 12, 2013
Yesterday was primary day in the Commonwealth. At stake were the Lt. Governor and Attorney General positions for the democrats and several important incumbent republican House of Delegates seats. In the race for the democratic nominee for Lt. Governor, Ralph Northam, a state Senator and physician, defeated former Secretary of Technology and White House Chief Information Officer Aneesh Chopra. In the Attorney General race state Senator Mark Herring defeated former federal prosecutor Justin Fairfax. With both the republican and democratic slates now complete we can expect campaigning to ramp up.
On the House of Delegate side there are two prominent, long-time incumbents who lost to primary challengers. The first is Delegate Joe May who lost to Dave LaRock. Delegate May is Chair of the Science and Technology Committee. The second is Delegate Bev Sherwood who lost to Mark Berg who is a physician. With the retirement of Delegate Lacy Putney, Delegate Sherwood was the favorite to be named Chair of the all-important Appropriations Committee. It will be interesting to see who replaces her as the front runner.
A Day in the Life of a Lobbyist,
June 11, 2013
By John Voso Jr., Old Republic Title Insurance Company
I’d like to share with you a story that is not about a Washington, D.C. or a state-affiliated lobbyist. Rather, it's a story of a title professional’s day on Capitol Hill.
Recently, I had the honor of attending the American Land Title Association’s 2013 Federal Conference in Washington, D.C. This conference is an opportunity for title professionals from across the country to come together, and share their time and energy, in order to educate our legislators, consumers and fellow title professionals about the importance of the title insurance business.
It all began in early May of this year in the nation’s capital. Each spring, title professionals gather at the Federal Conference for two main reasons—to increase their knowledge of the issues facing our industry and to spend a day on Capitol Hill visiting with U.S. Representatives and Senators, who represent their respective states. These interactions are important because when we connect with legislators, we are building relationships for future discussions about the nature of real estate transactions and the critical role the title insurance industry plays in the American Dream of homeownership.
This year’s three-day agenda was packed. The conference started Sunday evening reacquainting with industry friends and networking with new faces. This was followed by committee meetings and briefings, industry cocktail hours with members of the House of Representatives and their staffers and a variety of photo opportunities. Plus, presentations were made by representatives from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), lobbyists and mortgage, title and real estate brokers, all of whom shared their points of view on the issues facing our industry.
The events culminated with an hour spent learning about how to present our information during Wednesday’s time on Capitol Hill, the types of questions we might be asked, and the do's and don'ts of the visit. We were reminded to be kind to the receptionists, as often the staffers will ask them how they were treated. It sure would be a shame to have a great meeting with a member of Congress or their staff, only to have them find out that you were late or unpleasant with their receptionist.
Time spent on the Hill is not the time to be carrying on about a bad competitor or market problems back home. No, these visits are focused on our collective support of the title insurance industry as a whole. Participants had to check who they are and what their differences may be at the door, in order to use this unique opportunity to share our common support of the industry.
After two days of meetings, we were ready for our meetings on Capitol Hill. Armed with ALTA folders and packets of educational information, attendees battled rain, bumpy cab rides, mile-long walks between buildings and security entries at every building, in order to attend their meetings. For most, this is not hard work. After all, no one was loading or unloading cargo, painting tall buildings or laying shingles on a hot roof. Rather, we were handing out relevant title industry information and sharing our perspectives.
This year, 251 attendees participated in the Federal Conference—the largest group ever. Attendees made 258 visits to our nation's legislators to discuss such topics as the CFPB, closing disclosures, government-sponsored enterprises and ALTA's Best Practices. We also shared with members of Congress a letter being distributed through their ranks regarding the proposed three-day waiting period.
This year, like in those passed, we heard that the information we shared with our Representatives and members of Congress was greatly appreciated. Whether we’re there or not, the CFPB, the closing process and how we service consumers is an important topic on Capitol Hill.
The sense of accomplishment we all felt was unexplainable after all our meetings were completed. Certainly, we hadn’t secured new customers for our companies, nor had we figured out any innovative ways to handle title problems. We hadn’t checked our emails or voicemails all day long, We had, though, stood proudly before our lawmakers and shown them why the title industry is a viable and important industry. Tired and energized. The sense of fatigue and accomplishment we all felt was a pleasant one that came from serving as the face of the entire title industry. All 156,000-plus employees who work in this industry help to make the American Dream a reality every day.
I’d like to send out a special thanks to everyone who attended this year's Federal Conference. You made a difference. In looking to 2014, I encourage you to consider attending next year’s Federal Conference, where you, too, can become a D.C. lobbyist for a few days.
John Voso Jr. is senior vice president, manager-agency relationship services for Old Republic National Title Insurance Co. He can be reached at JVoso@OldRepublicTitle.com.
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