JUST SAY NO
By Jerry Watson
As the premier Commercial Bail organization in America, AIA continues to focus on its corporate values and beliefs. These beliefs, working their way through our people’s daily functions, form the guiding principles of our corporate conduct.
These beliefs determine our alignment with various legislative endeavors.
We believe in free enterprise. This means that we think that parties should be free to barter, trade, buy/sell and bargain as they choose. We also believe that this engagement between parties should not be interfered with.
Too much government control over the bail bonding business is, we believe, dangerous. Wise men have taught us that economic freedom is a prerequisite for political freedom.
So, AIA supports legislative bills which strengthen and expand the rights of legal bondsmen to deal freely in the marketplace, and we back these measures with our resources and influence. This, we believe, empowers our agents.
We believe that all people are entitled to live by their own values. The Declaration of Independence states, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.”
Put another way: We, at AIA, believe that the individual is sovereign over himself, over his or her own body and mind. Each agent has the right to conduct his or her own business affairs. This is why AIA has established flexibility as one of its pillars, so we can adapt to the needs and choices of the individual agent.
At AIA, we believe in the principle of limited government. Government should never interfere in the private affairs of its citizens, nor should it compete with the best interests of its citizens. We believe that government, state and federal, should not set up its own facilities to compete with the private sector, and this is why we are so vigilant in our opposition to governmental actions intended to allow pre-trial service officers to promote their own recognizance releases. It is no secret that this movement has as its design, the elimination of commercial bail. Not only is this wrong; it is not the American way. The government’s role is to be an umpire, not a player.
So, AIA stands firmly against the growth of government-sponsored “free bail” agencies.
Our beliefs find good expressions in Thomas Jefferson’s three principles of government: individual liberty, limited government and free enterprise. In our legislative work we do our very best to strengthen these principles as they apply to the commercial bail bonding industry.
Because of these beliefs, and their relevance to our family of agents, AIA has been deeply involved, this legislative year, in many activities pertaining to state bail legislation. Some good bills passed, some bad bills failed and a few more are pending.
Politicians cook the soup our agents have to eat, and AIA wants to see what’s going into the pot. So we make sure we are there and keeping an eye on as many fires as possible, convinced that our core beliefs identified are in the best interests of our agents.
One source of enjoyment (and pride) for AIA is the fact that we never bulldoze our way into industry, legislative or policy matters, preferring to work hand-in-hand with people and organizations of like mind. This happens via our strong support of groups like the American Bail Coalition, The American Legislative Exchange Council, various state associations of professional bondsmen, and the Surety Association of America.
While others in our profession have said that AIA makes a greater financial contribution to the protection of our industry than all other sureties combined, we nevertheless insist upon simply being a “worker among workers” in these protective endeavors.
At AIA we are consistently working for the benefit of our industry. This year alone :
- We have defeated the dangerous Georgia bill that would have decimated insurance bail in that state.
- We encouraged the “own release” limitation bills movement in Missouri, Washington, Tennessee and New Jersey.
- We worked to assure a surety bail only on certain offenders in New Jersey.
- We worked to seek the defeat of crime status reduction legislation in Texas.
- We have facilitated getting two pro-bail pieces of model legislation adopted as policy in the American Legislative Exchange Council.
- We have encouraged a dozen state legislators to introduce bail-friendly legislation for the coming session.
- And, most importantly… defeated deposit bail in Kansas, as well as a bill that threatens our industry in Oklahoma.
The list goes on.
Every year, this collaboration between AIA and its counterparts gets stronger and as a result so does our profession. The biblical admonishment is: “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” That is why we work all the harder to strengthen our industry’s foundation.