My 2nd ACA Fly-In: Changing Attitudes, Allies in Congress

When I learned that my friend, Dave Rudd, had attended this year’s ACA Fly-In, I asked him if he would blog about his experience for NL. He graciously accepted. I think he’s a great example of what many more debt collection professionals could and should do to ensure that our concerns are brought to the attention of and understood by our elected officials. Nancy Lender

Recently, I completed my SECOND ACA International Washington D.C. Fly-In. If I’ve learned anything this time around, it’s that the process of making political change can be frustrating, tedious and LONG.

ACA did a lot to prepare its nearly 50 participating association members to share our message with elected officials. Printed information we used included a list of 7 legislative/regulatory initiatives, an introduction to ACA and ACA’s ideas for modernizing debt collection policies.

Senator DeMint: ARM industry ally. At an ACA briefing before our individual meetings, Senator Jim DeMint encouraged us to keep pushing forward in our activities. He currently serves on the Senate Banking Committee and the Commerce Committee, but before entering politics, he was a small business owner.

After listening to Senator DeMint, I know our industry has at least one strong ally in the Senate. He understands what it takes to run a business and how government regulations/taxes impact it.  I am grateful he is on our team!

I visited the offices of three Utah Representatives: Senators Lee and Hatch and Congressman Chavetz. In each case, I met with the same staff members I did last year and concentrated on talking about the FDCPA and TCPA. By participating in two fly-in events in a row, I was able to see how (and if) attitudes have changed over time.

Senator Mike Lee: Very prepared staff. Senator Lee was available, so I met with him for a few minutes. Then, I met with Rick James his legislative assistant. Our scheduled 15 minute appointment lasted about an hour. I was impressed with Mr. James’ knowledge about our industry and concerns. In fact, I learned that Senator Lee’s staff researched and wrote a brief about our pending visit.

This meeting was extremely positive. Both Senator Lee and Mr. James understood the need to collect money owed to businesses AND they expressed understanding about the need to modernize the FDCPA and TCPA. Both were dismayed that the TCPA would actually prohibit calling a cell phone with an autodialer.

Senator Orrin Hatch: More education about industry needs. I next had a great discussion with Senator Orrin Hatch’s banking/financial staff assistant, Alvin Chan. Again, a 15 minute appointment became a 40 minute discussion. 

Even though he was pressed for time, Mr. Chan took the time to ask questions. I think Mr. Chan now understands our concerns much better. He indicated he would write a brief about our meeting for Senator Hatch.

Congressman Jason Chavetz: Improved attitude. Last year Congressman Chavetz’ legislative assistant, Mike Jerman, was not particularly favorable about dialing cell phones with autodialers and updating the TCPA. During this year’s meeting, I could tell that his stance had softened greatly. ACA’s efforts paid off, because the attitudes and knowledge of this office have improved.

If the process for political change were simple and straightforward, we would only need a few people championing our cause.  But it isn’t. As an industry, we need to rally together and push our concerns forward, in order to effectuate positive change.

I look forward to seeing firsthand the progress that is being made for our industry during my next ACA Fly-In!

by  Dave Rudd, Sr. VP of Finance & Administration, IAT

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