March 2015: Government Affairs

Words: Dan Kamys

MCAA Annual Convention Recap

borg_1114By Stephen A. borg We had yet another productive and successful time in early-February at the 2015 MCAA Annual Convention held during the World of Concrete/World of Masonry in Las Vegas, Nev. Many MCAA members were present, and we had an extremely active session discussing the upcoming year in Washington, D.C. I want to recap my presentation for those who were not able to attend and give an outlook for another successful year in 2015. We laid the foundation to win some major legislative victories in the 113th Congress (2013-2014) with the help of many MCAA member companies, but our work is not over. We need your continued engagement and input as we continue to take the voice of the masonry industry to Washington, D.C., and push to enact our legislative priorities. As I have stated many times, MCAA will be most effective when its members are fully engaged and talking to their Members of Congress regularly. While numerous major issues will likely be debated early in 2015 – in which MCAA will be fully engaged, such as immigration reform, tax reform and healthcare reform – two major issues will remain at the top of our legislative agenda. These are the passing of the concrete masonry check-off program authorizing bill, and the blocking of OSHA from finalizing its rule regarding the silica exposure limits. I have written about these issues on numerous occasions, but will briefly let you know where we stand and what we can expect. Tax reform and immigration reform remain two major issues that Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle and President Obama say they want to address in the next two years. While both sides remain extremely far apart on their goals, I fully expect a hearty debate on corporate tax reform and, more than likely, the estate tax and capital gains tax. This is because once again, President Obama took a swing at raising the estate tax rate, lowering the estate tax exemption level, removing “stepped-up” basis for capital gains computations and other anti-small business tax changes. As you are all well aware, these policies would have a drastic, if not outright death knell, to your ability to pass your businesses on to your children when you choose to retire or when you pass away. In addition to Congress debating tax reform, I also fully expect a debate on legislation in response to President Obama’s executive order regarding the illegal immigration issue. While it remains to be seen exactly what this legislation will encompass, it will surely impact you and the masonry industry as it deals with employment verification and guest worker programs, among other important issues. MCAA will play an active role as this debate unfolds and asks for your participation throughout the process. By far, I received the most questions from MCAA members in Las Vegas surrounding the issues of the check-off program and the OSHA silica rule. Your commitment, participation and strong voice on these two issues have laid the groundwork for hopeful action on both of these fronts. I look forward to writing an article detailing our victories. While the check-off did not pass at the end of the last Congress as we had hoped, we ended 2014 with 268 bipartisan cosponsors (62% of the House of Representatives) in the House and the bill having been passed out of the Senate Committee. We fully expect that, by the time you are reading this, our bill will be introduced and quickly moving through the legislative process as was the intent and promise of House leadership. We also fully expect to be able to gain traction in our fight against OSHA and its devastating proposed silica rule, especially now that both Houses of Congress are controlled by Republicans. While our coalition strategy is still under discussion, we fully expect to use every legislative tool we have to ensure that this rule does not become final, and our industry is able to continue to thrive and grow. I hope to see many of you at the MCAA Legislative Fly-in happening in May. We look forward to another successful year of working with the MCAA and its members to ensure that MCAA is a major player in continuing to lay the foundation for a strong construction industry and American economy.
Stephen Borg is VP of The Keelen Group, Return to Table of Contents
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