Legislative Update: What a Year It Has Been

Words: Dan KamysBy Stephen A. Borg What a year 2015 has been in Washington, D.C., and the world of politics! We have seen the resignation and retirement of the sitting Speaker of the House of Representatives. We have seen the incredible rise of “outsider” candidates in the Republican Presidential primary field. We have seen foreign affairs and homeland security issues take over the economy as major issues in politics and government. However, let me take this opportunity to drill down a little bit and recap what I have seen as a major happening within the Mason Contractors Association of America during 2015. This has been, by far, the most productive and impressive year for MCAA’s government relations program, and I hope this is just the beginning of something big.  The year 2015 saw a record in terms of donations to MAC PAC – the MCAA Political Action Committee. This allowed our members and me to continue to build relationships with elected officials on both sides of the aisle and ensure that we are able to support elected officials who understand and are friends to the construction industry and small businesses. As any member of the MCAA Board will tell you, MAC PAC is an important tool in our government relations’ toolbox, and I hope that you will take the time to educate yourself on the PAC and contribute to it to ensure that we continue to build upon our 2015 successes.  If you want a firsthand look at how our MAC PAC funds are used, take the time to make it out to Washington, D.C., during our annual “fly-in,” and be a part of MCAA’s relationship-building efforts. With that said, however, the year 2015 – more importantly – saw MCAA “play with the big boys” and take the lead in fighting the proposed new rule on silica coming out of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). As I have written before, MCAA was a part of the Construction Industry Safety Coalition, which included major trade associations such as the National Association of Home Builders, The Associated General Contractors, and the Associated Builders and Contractors, to name a few. Add to this fact that major associations such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers were also fighting hard against this rule, and we can arguably state that we were in the ring with some of the biggest and most respected associations in Washington, D.C. What I witnessed in 2015 were you, the members of MCAA, getting involved, fighting for your industry and businesses, and putting your voice to work in Washington, D.C. I have never seen our members this fired up, this active, and this committed. And it has paid off! Ask your Member of Congress who the MCAA is, and not only will they tell you all about us, they will likely tell you the name of our local MCAA member. Ask any Member of Congress who the most influential associations on the silica fight were, and MCAA will be one of the first names on their lips. Your commitment and efforts have been seen and heard. And. while we unfortunately fell short in our fight to block the silica rule in the 2015 year end appropriations package, we have built a committed, powerful, bipartisan force on Capitol Hill that is ready to fight for the construction industry and mason contractors throughout the country. But 2015 cannot be our standard. The year 2015 cannot be our legacy; it must be our starting point. We must remain engaged. We must continue to break MAC PAC funding records. We must continue to ensure that Members of Congress know who the mason contractors are in their districts and how the actions in they take in Congress affect them. We must continue to get new participants at the annual MCAA Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C., in May 2016. Our voice has never been stronger, but let’s make sure Congress hears our roar in 2016!   Stephen A. Borg is VP of The Keelen Group, www.keelengroup.com.
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