Midyear Meeting Rundown
What a set of meetings and briefings we had in Orlando at our 2013 MCAA Midyear Meeting at Walt Disney World Resort. It was great to see so many faces during this important time for our industry. As was recently written about by my colleague, Stephen Borg, in this same space not long ago, and as we discussed extensively in Orlando, one of the biggest issues currently facing our industry is the recently proposed silica exposure rule put forth by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. It was a great and lively discussion.
If you were unable to participate in the Midyear Meeting, please check out the MCAA website at www.masoncontractors.org, and research what the proposed rule says, how you can submit public comments for the record, and how you can partner with MCAA to respond to this rule. I know that we have the active membership needed to combat this rule, and I saw great grassroots efforts on another issue we spoke about in Orlando as well. That issue was the legislation we are trying to pass in the U.S. Congress to allow for the establishment of a concrete masonry check-off program.
As of Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2013, we have 79 bipartisan sponsors and cosponsors on H.R. 1563 and 16 bipartisan sponsors and cosponsors to S. 429, the Concrete Masonry Products Research, Education, and Promotion Act. We continue to work this issue hard in Washington, D.C., educating members of Congress on the background of what a check-off program is, and the need for this program in the concrete masonry industry.
We have had great success in partnering the D.C. outreach with grassroots efforts back home. I was extremely encouraged by the response we had during our Midyear Meeting and by the amount of follow up questions and planning we have had since to encourage members of Congress to sign onto these pieces of legislation. MCAA members throughout the country are setting up meetings with their members of Congress to urge their support of this legislation, and I would ask that if you have not already done so, that you join in on these efforts as well.
I also wanted to provide you all with an update on where we stand with the government shutdown and debt limit ceiling as our country was right in the middle of these two issues while in Orlando. As you know, since Oct. 1, 2013, the federal government had been partially shut down, due to Congress failing to pass an appropriations package before the package that funded the government expired at midnight on Sept. 30, 2013.
After weeks of back and forth debate between Republican and Democrats, the House and the Senate, on Oct. 16, 2013 (the day before the debt limit would supposedly be breached), the House and Senate both passed a package that would fund the federal government through Jan. 15, 2014, extend the debt limit through Feb. 7, 2014, and set up a deadline of Dec. 15, 2013, for the House and Senate to reconcile their two differing versions of their federal budgets. Hopefully, this will smooth the way for a long-term appropriations package to be acted upon before Jan. 15, 2014. While this package is a short-term solution, it will hopefully allow time for members of Congress to get together and forge longer term solutions to provide our businesses and economy with greater certainty and stability.
Let’s take the momentum we have built during the MCAA Midyear Meeting and use it to encourage Congress to act on the federal budget, block and rein in egregious agency rules that will have deep impacts on our economy, and sign onto the all-important Concrete Masonry Products Research, Education, and Promotion Act.
Matt Keelen is founder and president of the government affairs firm the Keelen Group. He is a widely known and highly regarded lobbyist and political strategist with more than 20 years of experience building relationships with key figures and a reputation for consistently delivering hard-earned victories. www.keelengroup.com