News from the Chicago Chapter
IREM 2020 Capitol Hill Fly-In: Sharing Insight on the National Flood Insurance Program and SAFE Banking Act
By Colleen Needham, CPM®, CAM, ARM®
Draper and Kramer, Incorporated
IREM Chicago 2020 Treasurer
As a member of the IREM Chicago Executive Council, I had the opportunity to fly to Washington, DC March 10 and 11 to meet with legislators from Illinois as part of the 2020 IREM Capitol Hill Fly-In. Prior to going to the Hill, we were given the ins and outs of how to conduct our meetings and what topics of discussion we would focus on with the Congressmen, Congresswomen and Senators along with their representatives. The Fly-In took place at the cusp of the COVID-19 pandemic and led to the changes occurring in our world, with the start of no handshakes and doing what we called “the elbow bump.”
Our first introduction to being in Washington for the Fly-In were aligned with our collaborative industry leader, the National Association of REALTORS®. We met with Mill Malkasian, Chief Advocacy Officer of NAR, Helen Devlin, Director, Federal Legislative and Political Affairs, Ryan Rusbuldt, Legislative Representative, and Warrant Tryon, Partner Capitol Counsel. Our instruction from these representatives of NAR was invaluable, and it was a pleasure that we were hosted at the beautiful NAR Washington headquarters building just steps away from the Capitol.
The meetings were set to take place the next morning at the Hart Senate Office Building, where we had appointments with Senator Tammy Duckworth and Senator Richard Durbin of Illinois. Our agenda was to speak about the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), H.R. 3167, and the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act, H.R. 5195/S.1200. The next stop was the Rayburn Building to speak with Congresswoman Janice Danoff Schakowsky and Congressman Danny Davis to learn their positions on these two Acts.
Each meeting was enlightening in its own unique way. The elected officials allowed us the chance to get IREM’s perspectives in front of our elected officials, so they knew where we stand as an organization on both Acts. We spoke about the history of IREM and what makes up the organization, such as being around for 85 years, and that we are the strongest leaders in commercial real estate property management. We then gave a small introduction of ourselves and where we are located within Illinois. These moments allowed us to make the meetings more personal and less political.
If I had one moment that stood out, it was the opportunity to meet Senator Duckworth as she was coming back from being on the Senate floor. She was gracious and took a moment to speak with us briefly and take a photo. For those of you who do not know about Tammy Duckworth, she is a huge advocate for Veterans Affairs and was a combat helicopter pilot who flew missions in Iraq. Her representatives were gracious and knowledgeable during our discussions on the NFIP and Safe Banking Act.
Overall, even with the environment changed by the emerging pandemic we found ourselves on that day, the trip was successful. The state representatives supported each of the Acts and were big proponents of the Safe Banking Act. The only possible downside was they all felt the Safe Banking Act would not see the floor this year, and if did, debate in Congress would happen in December just before Congress convenes for the year.