June 2016: Government Affairs

Words: Dan KamysJune 2016

2016 MCAA Legislative Conference Recap

borg_1114By Stephen Borg

In the midst of crazy political times, the Mason Contractors Association of America (MCAA) had another great week in Washington, D.C., during our annual Legislative Conference. We had MCAA members from 11 states who took the time to meet with Representatives and Senators from their home states, providing them with an update on the masonry industry and the issues affecting their businesses. I wanted to take this time to recap the event for those of you who could not make it. MCAA had five main issues to discuss this year during every visit. We tried to hit home the numerous ways that federal laws and regulations impact the mason contracting industry. Our top legislative effort this year was highlighting our need for robust workforce development programs, and our timing couldn’t have been better. Congress is beginning the process of reauthorizing the Carl D. Perkins Act (the federal law that created career and technical education programs), and we took the time to ask for more opportunities for business engagement within the program and more opportunities to remove the stigma related to CTE programs on the part of governments, administrators and parents. We continued to show members of Congress the true impact that OSHA’s new rule on workplace exposure to crystalline silica would have on the mason contracting industry and the construction industry as a whole. We reminded everyone we met that workplace safety and health remain our top priority, and we are fully committed to meeting the current standards set forth by OSHA. However, we believe that OSHA has not made a case for the need for the new rules, has not accurately taken into account the actual feasibility of complying with the new standards, and has drastically underestimated the true compliance costs to the construction industry. Our major request was that members of Congress push to include language in the annual appropriations bills to block implementation of this rule until OSHA holds a new SBRFA panel and provides Congress with answers to pertinent questions. Continuing our partnership with the National Concrete Masonry Association, we once again asked Representatives and Senators to cosponsor the Concrete Masonry Products, Research, Education, and Promotion Act, which, as you know, would provide the legal authority for the concrete block industry to hold a referendum vote on setting up a “check-off” program for the industry. Members of Congress were very supportive of these requests, and many vowed to keep these issues — along with the misclassification of employees as independent contractors, and opposition to S. 2892, the Timber Innovation Act — on their radar screens as the legislative process rolls forward. While we were on Capitol Hill, Executive Director Jeff Buczkiewicz and various members of MCAA took the time to present our annual MCAA Freedom and Prosperity Award to two members of Congress who have been adamant supporters of small businesses and our industry as a whole. This year’s award recipients were:
  • Representative Bill Huizenga (R-MI).
  • Senator John Hoeven (R-ND).
While the two days of hitting Capitol Hill were sometimes long, we had opportunities to participate in some rather fun events as well. On May 17, members of MCAA were able to take two amazing tours of Washington, D.C., landmarks. First was a behind-the-scenes masonry tour of George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate. The second tour was just as cool and historic, as our members explored the masonry of the Lincoln Cottage, President Abraham Lincoln’s D.C. hideaway. These two tours were extremely informative and served as a great way for our members to network and continue to share masonry stories from their home states. We appreciate all the MCAA members who took time out of their busy schedules to join us in Washington to advocate for our industry. We cannot overstate the importance of this week and the impact it has on our industry as whole. Keep an eye out for information regarding our 2017 Legislative Conference. We hope to see you there!
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