Prior to joining the Chamber as a lobbyist, you were a legislator yourself (1996-2008) and also involved in the insurance industry. How have your past experiences prepared you to be an advocate for the state’s businesses and employees?
Before I was a state legislator, I was also a county commissioner where I learned about roads, bridges and infrastructure. I was in the insurance business about 15 years when I started in the Legislature. I also had a criminal justice background as a probation officer.
Coming here, I think about all my life experiences and how they have fallen into what I’m doing now. I made the call to leave the insurance agency and then I was hired into economic development for several years.
I’ve had a wide range of things that really fit into my duties here. Having relationships in the House and Senate – that is paramount and I had that coming out of the Legislature. It’s a culmination of a lot of life experiences.
You’ve been busy the last few years in your area of expertise, with the smoking ban law and then obviously the federal Affordable Care Act.
It’s pretty amazing – it’s all been insurance reform. I have had to educate myself in all aspects of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to communicate it to employers. I enjoy helping them with this; the whole ACA is difficult, but I find pleasure in helping businesses.
Our ACA Helpline has seen some increased activity. People are starting to know more about it. It’s helped me define my understanding and forced me to go deeper into the ACA to give good advice.
You’re a very active individual – where do you draw inspiration for staying fit and healthy? And what are your favorite things to do to stay active?
I don’t like working out, but I’ve been pretty athletic most of my life and at a certain age, you have to decide you’re going to continue to maintain some level of fitness. It doesn’t come easy for me. I have a fitness regimen that I try to do. I have a knockoff of P90X (it’s about half as long as that) and my wife was a personal trainer and in wellness, so she motivates me from time to time.
I recognize if I want to prolong my life, I’ve got to stay active and not let things go to waste. When you get older, it takes a little more work. I play with my children and enjoy tossing a football in my yard. I try to be mindful of my eating, but I do reward myself with chocolate ice cream. Eighty percent of the time, do right; otherwise you’ll go crazy.
What is an important lesson you’ve learned through working in the Legislature and politics?
There are always two sides to the coin. Also, don’t speak until you’ve heard out both sides. That’s a lesson I learned early on as a commissioner. Until I heard both sides, I kept my mouth shut and listened. I’ve carried that through: listen to why people do what they do.
When you were a child, what did you dream you’d do when you grew up?
I thought I’d be a professional baseball player. There was a timeframe I thought about being president; and during one of my funky stages I told everyone I’d be a garbage collector whenever they asked me the question. There was a time in high school I thought about going to racing school to become a race car driver. If I had it all to do over, I might become an actor.
Favorite movie: Arsenic and Old Lace or North by Northwest
Favorite childhood TV show: The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet
Favorite vacation spot: Florida, specifically Disney World and Bradenton Beach
Favorite food: Edy’s chocolate ice cream