The 2017 PHCC Legislative Conference brought contractors and association executives from across the country together to convey a unified message of the need for tax reform, workforce development (reauthorization of Carl D. Perkins Act) and Energy Policy and Conservation Act (EPCA) reform June 13-14 in Washington, DC.
“These are extraordinary times in Washington DC as well as for our entire nation," PHCC President Patrick Wallner said during the conference's opening session. "Lawmakers are faced with difficult challenges on a number of national issues impacting all of us.”
Wallner reminded attendees that while PHCC leadership can lobby Washington regarding general issues, grassroots involvement by members is essential to making a difference at home.
REGULATORY AND LEGISLATIVE PERSPECTIVES
During the opening session, Sofie Miller, senior policy analyst at George Washington’s University Regulatory Studies Center, shared statistics on how a spike in energy efficiency standards enacted over the past several years—including those affecting energy-efficient appliances and light trucks/tractors—has resulted in increased costs and little return on investment rather than benefits for consumers and businesses.
Miller said “it may be time” to reform the Energy Policy & Conservation Act of 1975. As for predictions of what’s ahead, she said she anticipates congressional action on the Regulatory Accountability Act and a re-opened review of the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards on light trucks/tractors.
Following Miller’s presentation, AB Stoddard, associate editor and columnist at RealClearPolitics, provided an insider’s view of the current political climate in D.C., particularly with regard to tax reform.
“Congressional Republicans have a challenging path to tax reform this year but feel a great sense of urgency to accomplish it as soon as possible,” she said. “Until and unless they decide to craft bipartisan tax legislation with Democrats, Republicans have a very steep path ahead.”
One of the highlights of this year’s conference was a Congressional Reception at the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill. Several members of Congress attended the reception and spoke passionately about the need for workforce education, additional funding for the Carl D. Perkins Act, and the importance of tax reform.
Congressional speakers included Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Ohio); Rep. Gary Palmer (R-Ala.); Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.); Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colo.); Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.); Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R-Ga.); Rep. Doug LaMalfa (R-Calif); Rep. Chuck Fleishmann (R-Tenn.); Rep. David Schweikert (R-Ariz.); and Rep. Thomas Suozzi (D-N.Y.).
At the Congressional Breakfast, Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.) and Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.) gave their perspectives about critical issues directly impacting PHCC’s members.
“There is a big interest right now [about career and technical education] on Capitol Hill," Schrader said. "You picked a great time to come here.”
Shimkus agreed, stating, “Workforce development is key to the future of our country.”
A TRAGIC EVENT
During the breakfast, PHCC members observed a moment of silence for the victims of the shooting at the Congressional Baseball Team practice that morning. As a result of the incident, some meetings were rescheduled to meet altered congressional schedules. In addition, a Workforce Coalition meeting, to which a PHCC representative was invited, with the Department of Labor and President Trump was cancelled.
However, PHCC delegates still had the opportunity to make their voices heard on Capitol Hill through private meetings with their respective lawmakers and staff. PHCC of Louisiana member and Past National President (2011-2012) Keith Bienvenu, scheduled to meet with shooting victim Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) that day, was interviewed by WUSA9 in Scalise’s Congressional office.
“We are so proud of how PHCC members kept focused on their advocacy roles at the conference, while also showing compassion as Americans,” Wallner said. “They truly displayed professionalism despite difficult circumstances. We look forward to continuing to work with the 115th Congress, and I am pleased that our efforts are making an impact in Washington, DC."