Member Spotlight: Maxine Waters, Chairwoman of House Financial Services Committee


Maxine Waters (D) represents the 43rd district of California in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Rep. Waters was first elected to the House in 1990. She is the chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee, which has jurisdiction over most insurance issues. She is continuing as the leader of the Democrats on House Financial Services. Prior to her election to the House, Rep. Waters spent 14 years serving in the California State Assembly.

Rep. Waters attended the California State University at Los Angeles, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree. She began her career in public service as a teacher and a volunteer coordinator in the Head Start program.

Why she’s important to agents:

Rep. Waters has played a substantial role on the Financial Services Committee since she became the Ranking Member of the committee when House Democrats were in the minority (from 2013 to 2019). In this position, Rep. Waters played a large role in the development of insurance legislation, particularly on flood insurance.

Rep. Waters, along with former congresswoman Judy Biggert (R-IL), was the sponsor of the 2012 NFIP reauthorization legislation, the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act, PL 112-141 (Biggert-Waters). The reform provisions in Biggert-Waters were meant to put the NFIP on a financially stable track by phasing out subsidies in favor of risk-based rates to make the program actuarially sound, while providing the necessary coverage for policyholders. However, after a public outcry over the dramatic premium rate hikes that were included in Biggert-Waters, less than two years later, Rep. Waters led efforts to pass the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act (H.R. 3370) (HFIAA) in March 2014. HFIAA did away with many of the reforms in Biggert-Waters; most notably, it slowed down the rate increases that were meant to move the program toward actuarial sound rates and introduced additional surcharges on NFIP policies.

With the NFIP currently set to expire May 31, 2019, Rep. Waters, now Chairwoman of the committee, will be the key figure in the House determining what the NFIP will look like in the years to come.

Aside from the NFIP, other key issues that could come before the Financial Services Committee this year include data security legislation, the reauthorization of the terrorism risk insurance act, and international insurance issues. PIA National will continue to engage with Chairwoman Waters over the coming two years as these and other issues important to independent agents are considered in the committee.

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