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2013 MCAA Legislative Conference
Perhaps the most invigorating time we spend together as members of the Mason Contractors Association of America is during the MCAA Legislative Conference, held annually in May in Washington, D.C.
Mason contractors and masonry industry leaders participated in a fly-in to the nation’s capital, in conjunction with the National Concrete Masonry Association (NCMA), to assure that members of Congress know where we stand on certain issues. With the invaluable help and guidance of The Keelen Group, we were able to make visits to The Hill and make our voices heard.
The conference was strong this year, with both veteran industry members and younger, new faces in attendance. The first MCAA South of 40 Conference was held Monday, May 6 (see sidebar). A Congressional Reception sponsored by the MCAA was hosted by The Keelen Group, and a MCAA Freedom and Prosperity Award was presented to Rep. Reid Ribble (R-WI).
Tuesday, May 7, the MCAA Legislative Conference kicked off with a strategy breakfast and briefing about the day’s appointments and issues to be discussed with members of Congress. Special guests Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) and Rep. Scott Rigell (R-VA) spoke to the group during the breakfast.
Freedom and Prosperity Awards
Along with gaining highly beneficial face time with politicians, the MCAA also presented its 2013 MCAA Freedom and Prosperity Award to Rep. Reid Ribble (R-WI); Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI); Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO); and Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM). These four Members of Congress have played a vital role in ensuring that small businesses and the construction industry are able to get our economy back humming again.
Issues at hand
Check-Off Program. Congressional authorization is being solicited to permit the extension of the commodity check-off program to apply to the commodity-based concrete block industry to support research, education, and promotion intended to benefit all within the industry. It is important to note that this bill would not cost federal taxpayers any money. MCAA supports S.429/H.R.1563 and urges Congress to pass the legislation to help this industry by enabling it to effectively invest in itself (without government financial assistance), reinvigorate the economy, jump-start the tax base, and expand American jobs.
Immigration. MCAA supports a broad-based, comprehensive immigration reform approach that includes provisions to secure our nation’s borders, creates a temporary guest worker program that meets the demand for labor, and creates a process for addressing the undocumented currently employed in the U.S. The construction industry faces a growing problem of a shortage of skilled labor; some of this insufficiency is being addressed by the immigrant workforce and Congress is encouraged to include much-needed reforms to guest-worker and visa programs as a part of any package that is enacted. Any policy must include efforts to increase border security efforts, enforcement partnerships between federal and state/local law enforcement entities, and a robust program to cut down on identity theft and the use of fraudulent or stolen social security numbers.
MCAA Misclassification of Employees. Some contractors in the construction industry are deliberately misclassifying workers as independent contractors rather than employees to avoid payroll taxes, insurance premiums and other employment expenses in order to boost company profits. This practice grossly undercuts honest, law abiding contractors and, in addition, deprives the federal, state, and local governments of millions of dollars in revenue. Congress should direct the Department of Labor and the Internal Revenue Service to work together to improve enforcement mechanisms and protocols. The current tax gap has reached epic proportions; addressing misclassification will help to address billions in lost revenue to the federal government. The masonry industry urges members of Congress to support legislation that addresses this problem.
Multi-Employer Retirement Plan Reform. To protect multiemployer retirement security and prevent taxpayer bailouts, the MCAA participated in a national committee of more than 40 represented organizations to address long-term challenges facing pension plans. The Retirement Security Review Commission (RSRC) of the National Coordinating Committee for Multiemployer Plans (NCCMP) released this year their recommendations under a report entitled, “Solutions, Not Bailouts,” which identified 3 basic solutions: preservation, remediation and innovation. These steps will help to de-risk the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. The full report can be accessed at www.solutionsnotbailouts.com.
Workplace Crystalline Silica. OSHA continues to designate issuing a workplace crystalline silica regulation as a top agency priority at a time when silica Personal Exposure Limits (PELs) are already in place. Crystalline silica is commonly present in masonry industry workplaces. Long periods of exposure can cause chronic silicosis, which can be fatal. The pressure from outside organizations on OSHA to issue a comprehensive regulation and significantly lower the PELs is intense. The 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.
You can learn more about the MCAA’s positions on various legislative issues at www.masoncontractors.org/positions.
Coming together for masonry
MCAA and NCMA members came together Tuesday night at Tuscana West to break bread and celebrate a day well spent on The Hill. The room was packed. Smiles and great food were all around.
The conference concluded with more meetings on The Hill Wednesday. The MCAA Legislative Conference was, once again, a success.
|Last Updated on Thursday, 13 June 2013 16:34|