As my first out-of-state conference, I must say this will be a trip to remember. The 2014 PHCC Legislative Conference began with a briefing and orientation. Being new to the industry, I found this to be the most informative event on the program.
Mark Riso, PHCC director of government relations, spoke about the roles that PHCC members have as educators and the regulations that will affect the PHCC industry. In meeting with their respective representatives, each association was to express their support for the Carl D. Perkins Act and the current regulatory climate.
The Perkins Act, which is due for reauthorization, is dedicated to career and technical education. Not only are people looking for jobs, but jobs are looking for people. The labor market needs this act to not only be reauthorized, but also receive higher grant funding than the year before.
The three regulatory issues that were brought up were: the lead paint rule; the final furnace, air conditioning and heat pump rule; and the water heater regulation. All of these regulations are moving forward without the input of contractors. The lead paint rule is being expanded to include commercial and public buildings — without an accurate testing kit. The water heater regulation intends to increase water heater efficiency, making them larger, more expensive and practically impossible to install without major reconstruction to a building.
After orientation, busses departed for Capitol Hill for a congressional reception. There contactors were able to network with one another. During the reception many congressmen stopped in and said a few words of encouragement. Some memorable comments were: “If you are not at the table, you are probably on the menu,” “You guys are resources to us. Keep coming and keep educating us — this should be a partnership,” and “Fact is there is a skills gap. We need training and education to be able to fill the great jobs you have.”
The next day began at 7 a.m. with the Congressional Breakfast at Charlie Palmer’s restaurant on Capitol Hill. There U.S. Congressman Steve Chabot (R-Ohio) told PHCC members, “Small businesses are the backbone of this country.” And U.S. Congressman John Shimkus (R-Ill.) asked PHCC members to “Tell us when we are helping and when we are in the way.”
PHCC members then gathered on the steps of Capitol Hill for a group photo and promptly dispersed for their congressional meetings. I shadowed the Massachusetts delegation, whose members met with Rep. William Keating, Rep. Jim McGovern, Senator Edward Markey and the office of Rep. John Tierney. All listened to what the PHCC members had to say and promised they would try and keep them in the loop.
That evening, members gathered back at the Marriott for an awards reception. Here many members shared their stories of what happened on Capitol Hill and thanked the organizers of the event. All in all, most enjoyed their time on the Hill and are looking forward to seeing how these new connections with their representatives will progress.
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