Hundreds of Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) members met in Washington, D.C. for the 2016 Legislative Week which began on Monday, June 20th. The week was filled with legislative updates, Representative visits, association meetings, and –of course – a little fun sprinkled in between. The ABC Greater Houston chapter was well represented with 19 individuals making their way from Houston to the U.S. Capitol.
The Houston contingency was fortunate to have a balance of seasoned participants and new comers to the Legislative Week event, resulting in new experiences and great relationship building opportunities. The first half of the week started off with a legal conference, ABC meetings and receptions which led to the ‘main event’ on Thursday – the Legislative visits. In preparation for Thursday’s visits, the Houston group met for dinner the night before. During the dinner, hosted by ABC Greater Houston Chairman Mike Holland of Marek Brothers Systems, the group reviewed the busy visit schedule for the day ahead and discussed the issues and topics that would be shared with our legislators.
Thursday morning began with the Legislative Day breakfast meeting where attendees were provided with further briefings and printed material that would serve as a leave-behind for the slate of Elected Officials to be visited that day. After breakfast, the Houston contingency hurried off to the first visit of the day with an Aide from Congressman McCaul’s office, followed by a meeting with Congressman Ted Poe, Congressman Brian Babin, an Aide from Congressman Brady’s office, and capped off the visit to the South Side of the Capitol with a visit to Congressman Culberson. Following meetings with the Congressmen, the group was off to the Northside of the Capitol for visits with Senator John Cornyn, and Aides from Senator Cruz’s office, but not before a special trip on the Capitol Building subway system – a rare treat for visitors!
During the fast-paced visits, Greater Houston Chapter members shared their personal views and experiences related to several pieces of legislation. The Persuader Final Rule was a hot topic which greatly limits the ability of employers, particularly small businesses, to obtain advice from labor relations experts, and in turn deprive employees of their right to obtain balanced information about union representation. Another topic discussed with Elected Officials was the final Crystalline Silica Rule which drastically lowered the permissible exposure limit from 250 to 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air, averaged over an eight hour day. To demonstrate the unrealistic expectations of this new requirement, one ABC member summed it up as, “if this ruling goes into effect, you and everyone in this building would be required to wear a respirator onsite because of the ongoing renovation and the age the Capitol building.”
Discussion was also held over Comprehensive Tax Reform. Several members stated that their tax rate as a small S Corporation was higher than that of General Electric. The need for a fair and balanced taxation system was voiced by many in the group. The timing was ideal, as Chairman Kevin Brady was getting set to unveil his Tax Reform White Paper. ABC was asked by the Chairman’s office to provide input, due to the needs of many ABC members. Lastly, members made a point to request that Elected Officials work to cosponsor the Government Neutrality in Contracting Act which would prevent the government from mandating a Project Labor Agreement (PLA) as a condition of winning a federal construction contract. Other conversational points included the Overtime Final Rule, Blacklisting Proposal, and Joint Employer Decision.
A lengthy day of visits concluded with a cocktail reception at ABC National’s office, and then it was off to see the Democrats square off against the Republicans in America’s favorite pastime – baseball. The game was neck and neck – but the Republicans came out as victors as they scored two runs in the bottom of the seventh, breaking their seven year losing streak!
Attendees had positive feedback about their trip to D.C. for Legislative Week. As one of our more seasoned Legislative Week attendees Mike Holland, COO of Marek Brothers Systems stated, “I always enjoy the trip to Washington, D.C. for ABC LegCon, and this year was no exception. Our visits to our representatives were especially productive this year, and the supporting issue materials from ABC national was outstanding. Every year I am amazed at how little I know about how our government operates, and how many complex issues we face. Thank goodness we have ABC (that’s code for US) to highlight and inform about these important topics.”
A special thank you goes to all the members, family and staff who attended the 2016 Legislative Week event. Attendees included Warren Adamson, S&B Engineers and Constructors; Letitia Barker, Haley-Greer, Inc.; Neekeita Burns, Prosperity Professional Staffing Agency; Taneisha Clebourn, Prosperity Professional Staffing Agency; Joe Craig, Craig & Heidt, Inc.; Sam Craig, Craig & Heidt, Inc.; Darlene East, Holes Incorporated; Regina Gray, Prosperity Professional Staffing Agency; Russell Hamley, ABC Greater Houston; Vickie Hamley, ABC Greater Houston; Mike Holland, Marek Brothers Systems, Inc., Susan Hollingsworth, Holes Incorporated; Brandon Mabile, Performance Contractors; Trent McKenna, Comfort Systems USA, Inc.; Rhonda Mitchell, Aggregate Technologies, Inc.; Christina Stone, Stone & Stone LLC; Chandra Stroop, Haley-Greer, Inc.; Ross Winkler, Winkler Public Relations; and Jennifer Woodruff, ABC Greater Houston.