Another successful trip to The Hill

Words: Jennifer Morrell" width="600" height="338" border="0" alt="Mackie Bounds (left) presents Congressman Buck McKeon (right) with the MCAA Freedom and Prosperity Award." />
Mackie Bounds (left) presents Congressman Buck McKeon (right) with the MCAA Freedom and Prosperity Award.
Of the many services provided to mason contractors by the Mason Contractors Association of America, our annual Legislative Conference may be one of the most important. Each year, MCAA officers and industry professionals converge on Washington, D.C., to get in front of the decision makers and game changers, bring our issues to the forefront.

This year’s conference was held May 8-10, simultaneously with the National Concrete Masonry Association’s conference (NCMA). Together, the associations had more than 50 people in attendance who visited more than 120 offices on Capitol Hill.

Attendees visited the offices of Senators and Representatives for three days, which is the best way to let those in Washington know what matters to mason contractors. Attendees enjoyed a welcome dinner, a strategy breakfast, and a South of 40-hosted reception as well. Along with gaining highly beneficial face time with politicians, the MCAA also presented its Freedom and Prosperity Award to Senator Scott Brown of Massachusetts, Senator Mike Johanns of Nebraska, Congressman Daniel Lipinski of Illinois, and Congressman Buck McKeon of California. The award recognizes their help in ensuring that the construction industry rebounds, and that the government uses life-cycle costing in its construction projects.

The following details will bring you up to speed on the issues the MCAA took to our elected officials.

The Estate Tax

The masonry industry supports full repeal of the estate tax. If the estate tax is to exist, we urge Members of Congress to support the $5.12 million exemption at a minimum and the 35 percent rate at a maximum.

Alternative Minimum Tax

The masonry industry supports repeal of the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) or appropriate indexing of the AMT to its original date of enactment or the date of enactment of a new AMT bill.

Misclassification of Employees as Independent Contractors

Federal agencies should take steps to improve enforcement of current laws at both the state and federal levels. Congress should direct the Department of Labor and the Internal Revenue Service to work together to improve enforcement mechanisms and protocols. The masonry industry urges Members of Congress to support legislation.

OSHA Rules on Workplace Crystalline Silica

The masonry industry urges Congress to ensure that OSHA’s regulatory focus is not swayed by bad science on the matter of workplace exposure to crystalline silica. A comprehensive standard is needed to provide for exposure monitoring, medical surveillance and worker training, but the standard must be fair and grounded in fact.

The masonry 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, and that they ensure that OSHA is not rushing ahead on new regulations before taking all information into consideration.

Check-Off Program for the Concrete Masonry Industry

The concrete masonry industry needs an industry-wide, coordinated, and continuous program of research, promotion and education to support specific generic products. We have the collective will and resources, but an appropriate legal means is essential to accomplish this properly. The highly successful federal check-off program provides just such an umbrella.

Multi-Employer Defined Benefit Pension Reform

The masonry industry strongly supports broad-based pension reform and is opposed to using the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. (PBGC) as a “pay-for” in any budget legislation. The masonry industry urges the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate to bring employer and employee groups to the table and pass broad-based, common-sense reform to the multi-employer pension system.
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