Legislative Conference

Perhaps the most invigorating time we spend together as members of the Mason Contractors Association of America is during the MCAA Legislative Conference, held annually in May in Washington, D.C.

Mason contractors and masonry industry leaders participated in a fly-in to the nation’s capital, in conjunction with the National Concrete Masonry Association (NCMA), to assure that members of Congress know where we stand on certain issues. With the invaluable help and guidance of The Keelen Group, we were able to make visits to The Hill and make our voices heard.

The conference was strong this year, with both veteran industry members and younger, new faces in attendance. The first MCAA South of 40 Conference was held Monday, May 6 (see sidebar). A Congressional Reception sponsored by the MCAA was hosted by The Keelen Group, and a MCAA Freedom and Prosperity Award was presented to Rep. Reid Ribble (R-WI).

Tuesday, May 7, the MCAA Legislative Conference kicked off with a strategy breakfast and briefing about the day’s appointments and issues to be discussed with members of Congress. Special guests Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) and Rep. Scott Rigell (R-VA) spoke to the group during the breakfast.

Freedom and Prosperity Awards

Along with gaining highly beneficial face time with politicians, the MCAA also presented its 2013 MCAA Freedom and Prosperity Award to Rep. Reid Ribble (R-WI); Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI); Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO); and Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM). These four Members of Congress have played a vital role in ensuring that small businesses and the construction industry are able to get our economy back humming again.

Issues at hand

Check-Off Program. Congressional authorization is being solicited to permit the extension of the commodity check-off program to apply to the commodity-based concrete block industry to support research, education, and promotion intended to benefit all within the industry. It is important to note that this bill would not cost federal taxpayers any money. MCAA supports S.429/H.R.1563 and urges Congress to pass the legislation to help this industry by enabling it to effectively invest in itself (without government financial assistance), reinvigorate the economy, jump-start the tax base, and expand American jobs.

Estate Tax. The masonry industry supports permanent repeal of the federal estate tax, and urges the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate to pass a permanent repeal of the estate tax. Continued operations, local employment, community vitality, and quality of life are jeopardized when a current business owner passes away without repeal or stability of the estate tax. H.R. 8 included estate tax reforms that included a $5 Million exemption level permanently indexed to inflation, a 40% top rate (there is a graduated rate schedule below $1 million above the exemption level), spousal transfer or portability, and a stepped-up basis. MCAA asks that, as Congress moves forward on the federal budget and broad based tax reform, the recently enacted estate tax provisions would remain at their current level indexed for inflation if not repealed outright.

Immigration. MCAA supports a broad-based, comprehensive immigration reform approach that includes provisions to secure our nation’s borders, creates a temporary guest worker program that meets the demand for labor, and creates a process for addressing the undocumented currently employed in the U.S. The construction industry faces a growing problem of a shortage of skilled labor; some of this insufficiency is being addressed by the immigrant workforce and Congress is encouraged to include much-needed reforms to guest-worker and visa programs as a part of any package that is enacted. Any policy must include efforts to increase border security efforts, enforcement partnerships between federal and state/local law enforcement entities, and a robust program to cut down on identity theft and the use of fraudulent or stolen social security numbers.

John Smith Jr., MCAA Chairman; Tom Udall (D-NM); Tim O'Toole, MCAA.
John Smith Jr., MCAA Chairman; Tom Udall (D-NM); Tim O'Toole, MCAA.

Jeff Buczkiewicz, MCAA President (r) presents Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) with the Freedom and Prosperity Award. Shown left is Joe Buechel,  Natural Stone Veneers International.
Jeff Buczkiewicz, MCAA President (r) presents Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) with the Freedom and Prosperity Award. Shown left is Joe Buechel,  Natural Stone Veneers International.

Rep. Reid Ribble (R-WI) receives the Freedom and Prosperity Award.
Rep. Reid Ribble (R-WI) receives the Freedom and Prosperity Award.

MCAA Misclassification of Employees. Some contractors in the construction industry are deliberately misclassifying workers as independent contractors rather than employees to avoid payroll taxes, insurance premiums and other employment expenses in order to boost company profits. This practice grossly undercuts honest, law abiding contractors and, in addition, deprives the federal, state, and local governments of millions of dollars in revenue. Congress should direct the Department of Labor and the Internal Revenue Service to work together to improve enforcement mechanisms and protocols. The current tax gap has reached epic proportions; addressing misclassification will help to address billions in lost revenue to the federal government. The masonry industry urges members of Congress to support legislation that addresses this problem.

Paul Odom, P&S Masonry; Joe Buechel,  Natural Stone Veneers International; Joe Bonifate, Arch Masonry; Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI); Jeff Buczkiewicz, MCAA President; Paul Oldham, Ollier Masonry.
Paul Odom, P&S Masonry; Joe Buechel,  Natural Stone Veneers International; Joe Bonifate, Arch Masonry; Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI); Jeff Buczkiewicz, MCAA President; Paul Oldham, Ollier Masonry.

Paul Oldham, Ollier Masonry; Rep. Steve Stivers (R-OH); Joe Buechel,  Natural Stone Veneers International; Joe Bonifate, Arch Masonry.
Paul Oldham, Ollier Masonry; Rep. Steve Stivers (R-OH); Joe Buechel,  Natural Stone Veneers International; Joe Bonifate, Arch Masonry.

Rep. Scott Rigell (R-VA) addresses the crowd at the Tuesday strategy breakfast.
Congressman Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO) and John Smith Jr., MCAA Chairman.

Mike Sutter, Sutter Masonry; Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ); Colleen Sutter, Sutter Masonry; Lisa Prichard, Arizona Masonry Guild.
Rep. Scott Rigell (R-VA) addresses the crowd at the Tuesday strategy breakfast.

John Heffernan, Oldcastle; Lisa Prichard, Arizona Masonry Guild; Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ); Colleen and Mike Sutter, Sutter Masonry.
John Heffernan, Oldcastle; Lisa Prichard, Arizona Masonry Guild; Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ); Colleen and Mike Sutter, Sutter Masonry.

Mike Sutter, Sutter Masonry; Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ); Colleen Sutter, Sutter Masonry; Lisa Prichard, Arizona Masonry Guild.
Mike Sutter, Sutter Masonry; Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ); Colleen Sutter, Sutter Masonry; Lisa Prichard, Arizona Masonry Guild.

Multi-Employer Retirement Plan Reform. To protect multiemployer retirement security and prevent taxpayer bailouts, the MCAA participated in a national committee of more than 40 represented organizations to address long-term challenges facing pension plans. The Retirement Security Review Commission (RSRC) of the National Coordinating Committee for Multiemployer Plans (NCCMP) released this year their recommendations under a report entitled, “Solutions, Not Bailouts,” which identified 3 basic solutions: preservation, remediation and innovation. These steps will help to de-risk the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. The full report can be accessed at www.solutionsnotbailouts.com.

Workplace Crystalline Silica. OSHA continues to designate issuing a workplace crystalline silica regulation as a top agency priority at a time when silica Personal Exposure Limits (PELs) are already in place. Crystalline silica is commonly present in masonry industry workplaces. Long periods of exposure can cause chronic silicosis, which can be fatal. The pressure from outside organizations on OSHA to issue a comprehensive regulation and significantly lower the PELs is intense. The industry urges Congress to consider relevant, unbiased technical information supporting development of a fair and equitable standard that will protect workers without destroying their jobs and the businesses that employ them.

You can learn more about the MCAA’s positions on various legislative issues at www.masoncontractors.org/positions.

David Biggs, P.E., presents to the South of 40 on Building Information Modeling.
David Biggs, P.E., presents to the South of 40 on Building Information Modeling.

Dr. Javier Irizarry, Georgia Tech, addresses South of 40 about trends in information mobility and visualization.
Dr. Javier Irizarry, Georgia Tech, addresses South of 40 about trends in information mobility and visualization.

Matt Keelen of The Keelen Group; Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI); Joe Buechel,  Natural Stone Veneers International; Jennifer Morrell, Editor of Masonry Magazine; and Bob Thomas, NCMA.
Matt Keelen of The Keelen Group; Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI); Joe Buechel,  Natural Stone Veneers International; Jennifer Morrell, Editor of Masonry Magazine; and Bob Thomas, NCMA.

Coming together for masonry

MCAA and NCMA members came together Tuesday night at Tuscana West to break bread and celebrate a day well spent on The Hill. The room was packed. Smiles and great food were all around.

The conference concluded with more meetings on The Hill Wednesday. The MCAA Legislative Conference was, once again, a success.

Brian Foster, Paul Oldham, Paul Odom, Joe Buechel, Mike Sutter, Rep. Steven Horsford (D-NV), John Smith Jr., Jennifer Morrell, Imani Brodie.
Brian Foster, Paul Oldham, Paul Odom, Joe Buechel, Mike Sutter, Rep. Steven Horsford (D-NV), John Smith Jr., Jennifer Morrell, Imani Brodie.

Matt Keelen of The Keelen Group; Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI); Joe Buechel,  Natural Stone Veneers International; Jennifer Morrell, Editor of Masonry Magazine; and Bob Thomas, NCMA.
Matt Keelen of The Keelen Group; Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI); Joe Buechel,  Natural Stone Veneers International; Jennifer Morrell, Editor of Masonry Magazine; and Bob Thomas, NCMA.



Last Updated on Thursday, 13 June 2013 16:34