ABC members voice concerns on the Hill
Each year, ABC members across the nation trek to Washington D.C. to make their voices heard about issues concerning the construction industry.
The event is the Legislative Conference, commonly referred to as LegCon. ABC National is calling 2014 a “critical year for the construction industry, your business and the country.” LegCon provides a great opportunity for networking with a new customer base and learning about new trends in the industry. But, most importantly, the conference is a prime platform for members to sit down with representatives to discuss pressing issues directly affecting their business. Darlene East, ABC member and President and COO of Holes Incorperated, has traveled to D.C. for LegCon for more than 10 years.
“The best way to be informed about our government is to go to the Hill and speak with them,” East said.
Even after her LegCon trip, East left wanting to know more about the issues. Key moments, like discussing estate taxes with Tom Delay to getting Kay Bailey Hutchinson to sign book copies for her daughters, East said, were reasons to return to the Hill year after year.
Dwayne Boudreax, 20-year ABC member and Vice President of S&B Plant Services, chose to venture to D.C. for a different reason. He took his first trip to expand his customer base by networking with senior contractors. The first year meant just listening and watching the process, Boudreaux said.
“Walking through the halls of Congress changes your whole understanding of what ABC does in the Texas capital and in Washington D.C. You are able to get a complete understanding of the political process,” Boudreaux said. “I was in the process of influencing change.”
The observance and participation of the political process kept Boudreaux returning for more than 3 years. He described the trip with words like ‘comraderie,’ and spoke highly of everyone’s discussions. When asked if he thought they were successful in years past, Boudreaux answered with ‘every year’.
“If you don’t attend, its void,” Boudreaux explained. “If you don’t attend, they’ll never hear…the plight of the contractor.”
Austin Tomlinson, ABC’s Government Affairs Coordinator, said ABC members made an impact at LegCon in several ways. One of which was during the House of Representatives vote on the America’s Small Business Tax Relief Act of 2014.
“This legislation was a key vote for ABC members and Houston Representatives were pressed by ABC members to support this bill,” Tomlinson said. “Every Houston Representative that ABC Houston members lobbied with voted in favor of passing this bill.”
Standing with an organization in front of congress, Tomlinson said, can create a more profound impression than standing on one’s own. But to answer the question of why members should attend this event, Tomlinson said one of the main concerns of elected officials is the employment of their constituents.
“The construction industry provides thousands of jobs in their district, so Congress is always willing to listen to ABC members on how to grow the construction industry. ABC members’ working knowledge of the industry should not go to waste and allow bureaucrats and law makers to make uninformed workforce legislation.”
“Put it in the budget,” Boudreaux said. “It’s one of the best experiences of my 20-plus years with ABC.”