During PHCC’s Legislative Conference, May 22-23, Washington, D.C., more than 100 PHCC contractors; state and local chapter executives; and PHC industry partners delivered a unified message to members of Congress about ongoing challenges that will have a long-term impact on the PHC industry and the country.
During several events on Capitol Hill and meetings with Congressional members and their staff, PHCC members advocated for increased water system infrastructure spending, workforce development, and career and technical education, while thanking congressional members for recently passed tax reform. PHCC members expressed key support for workforce development through the Promoting Real Opportunity Success and Prosperity through Education Reform (PROSPER) Act and the reauthorization of the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA).
PHCC National President Laurie Crigler set the tone for the event prior to meetings on Capitol Hill: “Politics is not a spectator sport and your involvement is key to successful advocacy at all the levels ... local, state and national. None of this works without you.”
Crigler acknowledged several of PHCC’s next generation in attendance, commending them for their interest and engagement during the event.
Zach Boren, director of policy and atandards for the Office of Apprenticeship for the Department of Labor, shared the latest from the DOL’s Task Force on Apprenticeship Expansion. While citing statistics, Boren noted that more than 6 million jobs are unfilled and more than eight million workers lack the necessary credentials.
“Apprenticeships are the key to closing the nation’s skills gap as they are a customizable, flexible and proven business-driven model for developing workers,” Boren said.
In the coming months, the department will support innovative, work-based learning approaches, technology modernization, and state initiatives to expand apprenticeship programs. By modernizing the government’s role in apprenticeships while developing new programs, they expect to achieve President Trump’s goal of attracting 1 million new apprentices over the next five years. This fall, the Department of Labor will again host National Apprenticeship Week to highlight the benefits of apprenticeship.
Reid Wilson, national correspondent for The Hill, shared his insight into the 2018 midterm elections, the current political climate, and political trends. Reid pointed out that Americans have moved beyond dividing themselves along the typical ideological lines.
“Now, we’re dividing ourselves culturally, generationally and geographically, too,” Wilson said. “It’s a worrying trend that future politicians are going to have to contend with for years to come…[and] repairing this rift is going to take work.”
Reid predicted that Democrats are going to have a good year in the midterm elections this year.
“The question is how high the political tsunami facing Republicans grows,” he said. “If Republicans can psych up their voters and drive them to the polls, they will mitigate their losses.”
On the other hand, Reid noted, President Trump’s approval rating will impact the election results.
As usual, a highlight of this year’s conference was the annual Congressional Reception at Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill. Several members of Congress including Rep. Steve Chabot, Rep. Tom O'Halleran and Rep David Schweikert, attended the reception and spoke in favor of PHCC’s support of WIFIA and the PROSPER Act.
At Wednesday morning’s Congressional Breakfast, guest speaker Rep. Jim Costa (D-CA) gave his insights into the president’s infrastructure initiative, stating that “We’ve been living off the infrastructure investments of our parents and grandparents, and haven’t been making the same investments (as they have).”
Costa added that Congress will need to figure out how federal components can help fund infrastructure improvements, “and this can only happen in a bi-partisan fashion.”
Rep. David Schweikert (R-AZ), who serves on the House Ways and Means Tax Reform Subcommittee, gave a behind-the-scenes look at the complexities involved with passing the massive tax reform bill.
“The first step was to pass tax reform,” he said. “The calculator won. Now we can start seeing some great things in our society.”
PHCC’s next legislative event in 2018 will be an education session at CONNECT 2018,“Decoded: Legislative and Regulatory Rules and Regulations Solved!” during which PHCC Vice President of Legislative Affairs Mark Riso and Vice President of Regulatory Affairs Chuck White will explain the complex rules and regulations that keep contractors up at night. The next PHCC Legislative Conference is scheduled May 7-8, 2019, on Capitol Hill.