July 2016: Government Affairs

Words: Dan Kamys

Prime Season for a Great Meeting

Stephen BorgBy Stephen Borg

With the summer heat fast approaching, the unprecedented Presidential race coming down to what appears to be two candidates both having negative approval ratings, and the summer construction season kicking into full gear, I cannot blame you for having your mind occupied with anything other than Congress and the upcoming Congressional elections. By now, those of you who traveled to Washington, D.C., for the 2016 MCAA Legislative Conference in May have settled back into your business routine and have followed up with the offices you met with, asking them to keep you and your business in mind as they act in Washington. However, let me offer you an easy tool you can use to continue to engage your elected officials during this summer season and make a lasting impact on those representing you, their constituents. Not only are the upcoming months prime season for the construction business, but these months also represent the prime season to invite a member of Congress or a candidate for office to visit a worksite and witness firsthand the work you do and the impact government regulations have on your business. It is an ideal time to ensure that these elected officials and candidates have a mental picture of the issues that you and the MCAA are discussing with them. This election year is rather unique. Not only has Congress scheduled its normal summer District Work Period for the month of August, but with the Presidential conventions scheduled to occur in mid-July, Congress will also be out of session for the last two weeks of July. This will give members of Congress the opportunity to spend seven weeks in their home districts, meeting with constituents and campaigning ahead of the November elections. Most Congressmen/women take this time to travel throughout their districts, touring facilities, hosting town halls, and enjoying the many festivals and state fairs that occur. What better time than now to pick up the phone and invite them out to tour a jobsite and chat with your employees during a break? All you have to do is pick up an extra hard hat and spend 30 minutes taking the senator or representative around the site. This 30 minutes will be invaluable in continuing to forge a trusting relationship with him/her and instilling a deeper understanding of the masonry and contracting business that will last a lifetime. It also provides a prime place and time to show them the real-world impact that regulations, such as the new OSHA silica exposure rule, will have on you and your business. When members of Congress are able to see firsthand the issues that you and MCAA discuss with them in their offices, it allows them to bring an understanding of these issues full circle back to Washington. I cannot tell you how many times I have talked with members of Congress in D.C., after they have toured a jobsite back home, when they have explained a particular issue came alive to them only when they finally saw firsthand the issue I was discussing with them. So, while you plan your summer projects and ready your jobsites, take the time to pick up the phone and call your elected officials to invite them to join you. You will be surprised what kind of impact 30 minutes of your day can have on your business and the masonry industry as a whole. Bring the understanding of our industry to a whole new level without having to lift a finger other than to make a call.
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