Why Member Involvement Is Critical to Effective Advocacy
NUCA’s Government Relations (GR) team works to deliver results that will benefit your bottom line. Whether it is securing funding for infrastructure programs that are critical to our industry, or working to roll back burdensome regulations, we are tuned in to federal issues that impact your day-to-day operations. After working for several years for former Congressman Charlie Dent, I am excited to be leading NUCA’s GR program. I believe that my experience working on Capitol Hill and contacts with key Members of Congress will be an asset to NUCA’s advocacy program. With this Inside Washington, I’d like to review how we are working to serve you and how you can get involved.
Our advocacy efforts cover the broad array of issues affecting NUCA members, including infrastructure investment, workforce development, healthcare, environmental and safety regulations, and tax policy. While we consistently lobby for NUCA’s long-term priorities, we welcome hearing from members about new or different issues they would like us to tackle.
NUCA constantly monitors and tracks legislative and regulatory activity moving in Washington. When opportunities are identified, we move into action to advance your interests. To that end, our team engages lawmakers through meetings and other communication.
Our Presence Is Critical to Our Mission
By maintaining a constant presence on Capitol Hill and meeting regularly with lawmakers, committees, and their staff, our GR team is growing NUCA’s name recognition and ensuring lawmakers understand our issues and the positive impact our work has in their communities. We also regularly send letters to Members of Congress regarding our positions on issues to ensure that we reach every member on the Hill. By educating and building relationships with Members of Congress, they will be more likely to seek us out as a trusted resource when our issues are under consideration.
To maximize our impact, we also work as part of advocacy coalitions for specific issues. NUCA leads the Clean Water Council, which includes organizations representing contractors, manufacturers, suppliers, and other industry leaders committed to ensuring a high quality of life through sound environmental infrastructure. We also work with a number of coalitions to advance our priorities. These coalitions work to establish a long-term funding solution for the Highway Trust Fund, streamline the permitting process for pipeline construction, watch and respond to proposed EPA, DOL, and OSHA regulations, and ensure our industry is fairly represented under the Gold Shovel Standard.
Communication from You is Critical
While NUCA’s advocacy on the Hill is primarily how we advance our issues, we can’t achieve our goals without members also communicating with their lawmakers. Contractors and suppliers (and often their employees) are their constituents, and constituents are always much more persuasive than a national lobbyist. When important issues are before Congress, we will ask for your assistance. We will explain the issues, tell you how to contact your lawmakers, and brief you on what information to communicate. Having worked for a U.S. Congressman for several years, I know that direct communication from constituents can help sway a lawmaker’s vote in our favor. If you are a constituent engaged enough to contact the lawmaker directly, then he or she will also assume you are engaged enough to vote. Never underestimate the power of a personal phone call or email when critical issues are before Congress.
NUCA member feedback and expertise is also critical in guiding the priorities and efforts of our advocacy program. This information is necessary to determine exactly how proposed legislation or regulation would affect our industry. When necessary, we will ask for your feedback through surveys or other direct outreach. If we are to benefit our industry, our GR team must first clearly understand if and how a particular issue will impact our core membership.
If GR emails you a brief survey, please take a minute to provide the information we request. Your feedback will ensure that we are lobbying the most important issues and have strong arguments to make our case with Members of Congress. For that reason, it is just as helpful to know if an issue is not important to your company as it is to know why it is important.
To take a recent example, the responses we received from our survey concerning the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Hours of Service and Electronic Logging Device regulations assisted us in two ways. Members who had concerns about the regulations shared their expertise, which allowed us to make the best possible argument for our position in written comments submitted to the agency. Those of you who indicated it was not a big deal to helped us prioritize it against the other important advocacy issues. Many thanks to those of you who took time to return the survey and who shared your specific concerns.
As our advocacy team continues to delve into the issues important to members, please email or call me with any legislative or regulatory issue impacting your business you think needs to be on our radar.
Attend the Summit and Participate in Democracy
At NUCA’s Washington Summit you will meet with your congressional lawmakers or their legislative staff and share the reality of running (or helping to run) a business. Most lawmakers have never owned a business, so these meetings offer the opportunity to explain the difficulties of running a business in a highly regulated industry. These meetings provide the unique chance to give real-life examples of the issues you confront every day. These scenarios will help elected officials understand the importance of supporting our issues and how doing so will directly serve their communities. All that you need to bring is your stories; NUCA will brief you on the specific issues and provide you detailed information and the other tools needed for a congressional meeting. The Summit also includes half-day Legislative Conference where Members of Congress and other Washington experts share their perspectives on the lay of the land in Washington and an insider view of the Hill.
How Else Can We Help?
NUCA’s Government Relations Committee, with staff input, sets the priorities for NUCA’s advocacy efforts. By participating in the GR Committee, you are actively working to influence public policy so it benefits your company, the industry, and the business community as a whole. Committee members stay informed on NUCA’s priority issues and developments in Washington as they happen. Most importantly, committee members, as contractors with experience, help provide the reasoning behind our positions — the ammunition to effectively lobby our positions when talking to legislators on the Hill. The committee meets via conference call once a month and holds face-to-face meetings at NUCA’s Washington Summit and Convention
NUCA members have considerable access to information about NUCA’s advocacy efforts on the Hill and in the regulatory agencies. Political Insiders e-news, offers the most up-to-date information on legislative and regulatory developments. You must subscribe to receive this newsletter. Please email Bryce@nuca.com to subscribe. NUCA@Work, published bi-weekly for NUCA members, also includes advocacy news. You must be a member to get our bi-weekly NUCA@Work. Of course, our regular column in Utility Contractor also provides up-to-date information. Watch for our feature story in the next issue for a wrap-up of the midterm elections, a review of 2018 congressional actions, and a look forward to next year’s anticipated congressional and regulatory activity in Washington, D.C.
The purpose of NUCA’s advocacy efforts is to serve the needs of our members. We hope that this Inside Washington column gives you a better understanding of the work that we do and the ways you can get involved and influence policy. If you ever have questions about NUCA’s advocacy, priorities, and activities please reach out to me directly at Bryce@nuca.com.
Bryce Mongeon is Director of Government Relations for the National Utility Contractors Association (NUCA).