Summer’s here, and if my recent schedule is any indication, I’d expect many of you are quite busy. While this is certainly a better problem to have than the alternative, it can be difficult to find the time to look up from the task at hand and focus on the big picture. We have slightly less than half of the year ahead of us, but that means there are months left to push both locally and in Washington for the legislation and government funding which our industry relies upon.
Last issue, I wrote at length about our lawmakers and laid out the proposed legislation that could affect our industry. I also touched on the positive takeaways we experienced during the 2019 Washington Summit. The good news is that we are seeing a return on our investment of time and effort in D.C. On June 25, the House passed a “minibus” appropriations bill that included over $3 billion for the Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Funds – a $300+ million increase over the previous year – and around $50 billion in additional infrastructure funding in both rural and urban areas. Is it enough? No, but it’s a start.
While I’m not exactly confident that the Senate will match these numbers, I do know that if we fail to tell Senators precisely why this funding is important, the outcome won’t be ideal. As you read this, the Senate’s August recess is either right around the corner or fully underway. Take advantage of this time when your lawmakers are home, get together with your chapter and local construction professionals, and hammer home the message to your two U.S. Senators that utility infrastructure is vitally needed and necessary for the economic health of our nation. What we do significantly improves our communities, creates jobs, and generates tax revenue at the local, state, and national levels. Our voices matter. Use yours.
Recently, NUCA kicked off its new Trenchless Contractors Division in a big way during HUD’s Innovative Housing Showcase here in D.C. on the National Mall. Information about trenchless technology made its way to HUD Secretary Ben Carson and he even spoke about its potential benefits to affordable housing during the event’s panel sessions. I’d like to thank Jeff Rumer for taking a week out of his busy schedule to ensure the event went off without a hitch. Additionally, thank you to NUCA Bronze National Partners Ditch Witch, and Sustaining Partners Akkerman, Barbco, and Hammerhead Trenchless for helping make this launch so successful. In related news, watch for the 5th edition of NUCA’s Trenchless Installation and Methods Manual. If you’d like to provide input, Anne Luzier is still looking to hear from you.
NUCA just recently wrapped up the 2019 Trench Safety Stand Down Week and our initial results look good: Over 16,000 workers participated and the forms are still coming in. I’d like to thank Gold Partner National Trench Safety and Silver Partner and 2018 Associate Member of the Year United Rentals Trench Safety for offering educational sessions across the country. Additionally, thank you to NAHB, NAXSA, and TSSA for co-sponsoring and to OSHA putting its full support behind this important event. As a result of the huge impact we have made, multiple states and the District of Columbia have declared the third week in June TSSD Week. Keeping people safe in the trenches is one of the most important things we do. I’m encouraged that so many of you made a commitment to safety.
On the horizon we have the Safety Directors Forum, November 6-7 in Nashville, TN, and our first Utility Construction Career Fair at the Dulles Expo Center in Chantilly, VA, on November 15. We also have the 2020 Annual Convention and Exhibit locked down for February 27-29, at the Loews Ventana Canyon Resort in Tuscan, Arizona. Add this to your calendars now – you won’t want to miss it.
Finally, I’d like to ask you all to join me in welcoming Robert Baylor to NUCA as our new Director of Communications. Bob has an extensive background in association media communications and publication management, including work for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Rifle Association (NRA-ILA), the National Propane Gas Association, the American Hotel & Lodging Association, and most recently, the HR and compensation policy association WorldatWork. He’s written extensively about legislation on Capitol Hill, and spent a few years at the beginning of his career as a U.S. House committee staffer. I look forward to his contribution to the organization in the years ahead.