MCAA On the Hill
A recap of the MCAA 2009 Fly-in
(L to R): Matt Keelen (MCAA Lobbyist), Eric Dell (Congressman Wilson’s COS), Mike Sutter (MCAA), Jeff Buczkiewicz (MCAA), Congressman Wilson of South Carolina second district, Frank Campitelli (MCAA), Roy Swnidal (MCAA), Tom Daniel (MCAA) and Damian Lang (MCAA)
From Monday, April 20, through Wednesday, April 22, a group comprised of 20 MCAA members and some of our NCMA and BSI colleagues joined our federal government affairs team at The Keelen Group to descend on Capitol Hill. We presented our legislative agenda to members of Congress. During Hill Day, April 21, and on the morning of April 22, the MCAA visited with more than 40 congressmen, senators, and their staff members.
Our official program launched Tuesday morning with a presentation on immigration and I-9 compliance, led by Eliot Norman, Esq., an attorney at Williams Mullen.
The Keelen Group then provided a legislative analysis of our Hill Day topics, ranging from immigration and tax reform, military construction issues, and energy policy to the 3-percent withholding tax, health care reform, and workplace and OSHA issues. The legislative climate will continue to be politically charged, but there are a number of items that Congress either must pass, such as annual appropriations bills, or issues that Congress wants to address, such as health care and immigration reform, and climate change policy.
(L to R): Jeff Buczkiewicz (MCAA), Congressman Roskam of Illinois sixth district, John Smith Jr. (MCAA), Roy Swindal (MCAA).
After the briefing, our group took to The Hill, where most attendees met with representatives from the states and regions where they operate. During the meetings, the MCAA attendees had the opportunity to present their specific stories to their members, talking about the state of their businesses, the histories of their companies, and other personal issues they faced, as well as to discuss the MCAA’s federal issues.
Our group received quite a bit of feedback from members and their staffs about the likely legislative calendar, as well as key policy proposals and what those proposals may look like. With a budget framework in place, Congress is prepared to begin the annual appropriations process, where federal spending directives will be set. The budget also calls for Congress to draft a health care reform bill, which is sure to be contentious. There seems to be a growing interest in addressing immigration reform, although the major hurdle of a “path to citizenship” still has yet to be resolved.
During our visit with Congressman Wally Herger (CA), we learned that the 3-percent withholding bill has been re-introduced with Congressman Kendrick Meek (FL). The MCAA and The Keelen Group will work with both of these offices to enlist more cosponsors of the legislation and seek tax reform and other legislative vehicles to move this critical legislation forward.
(L to R): MCAA Lobbyist Matt Keelen, MCAA member Roy Swindal, Jeff Buczkiewicz (MCAA), Congressman Herger of California second district, MCAA President Tom Daniel and MCAA Secretary John Smith, Jr.
The MCAA and The Keelen Group also will work with a consortium of senators to address masonry sustainability and life-cycle costing provisions in the upcoming Military Construction appropriations bill.
Finally, staff members informed us that the climate-change debate will begin to move forward in the upcoming months. The proposed cap-and-trade provisions could have severe consequences on energy prices and impact any industry that relies on fossil fuels as a source of energy.
Perhaps the most important feedback from our visits was from both members and staff, who commented that our presence on The Hill and in their offices was very important, and the MCAA must stay engaged on the issues important to them. They also said that the offices needed to hear their input and suggestions on upcoming legislation. The MCAA must continue to have its voice heard on Capitol Hill to impact future legislative issues.
The MCAA would like to thank the following individuals for spending their time and resources to represent our industry during our conference:
Frank Campitelli – Baltimore Masonry, Bill Holden – Block USA, Major Ogilvie – Block USA, Lee McClinton – Block USA, Rich O’Connor – Block USA, Mackie Bounds – Brazos Masonry, Thomas Cummer – Cummer Masonry, Inc., Brendan Quinn – Ernest Maier, Don and Beverley McCauley, Jr. – Falls Church Construction, Tom and Debby Daniel – GBC Concrete and Masonry, Damian Lang – Lang Masonry Contractors, Benard Buster – Lyons Sandstone, Roy Swindal – Masonry Arts, Inc., Mike Finch – RCP Block and Brick, John J. Smith, Jr. – Smith Masonry, Inc., Mark Kemp – Superior Masonry Builders, Mike and Colleen Sutter – Sutter Masonry, Inc.
Mike Falencki is COO and VP of policy for the Keelen Group.