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August 13, 2009 7:57 AM CDT

Legislative Update

Lobbying efforts affecting the masonry industry

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MCAA Executive Director Jeff Buczkiewicz recently met with Congressmen trying to secure sponsors to rescind the 3% withholding issue on government contracts.
MCAA Executive Director Jeff Buczkiewicz recently met with Congressmen trying to secure sponsors to rescind the 3% withholding issue on government contracts.
I am currently sitting in my hotel room in Washington DC preparing for my trip to the Hill and Department of Labor this afternoon. I was with our lobbyist yesterday meeting with Congressmen trying to secure sponsors of the 3% withholding issue on government contracts. The good news is that it should sail through the house later this fall on another fiscal bill. The challenge will be when it reaches the Senate. Last year a similar bill was stopped in the Senate due to no Democrat support at all for the bill. There was support by about 10 Republicans, but it never garnered support of Democrats.

We will be targeting several Democratic Senators to try to get their support of the bill, in particular, Senators Baucus (Montana) and Grassley (Iowa) since they sit on the ways and means committee and tend to sway other committee members. While I was in the office of the Keelen Group (our lobbyists), the house health care bill came through (this was on a Tuesday). The bill was 1080 pages long and was being voted on Thursday of that week. Our lobbyist were rolling their eyes knowing they had several days to try to read and digest what was in the bill and what it would mean for their clients. At this point you have probably already received an e-alert from us regarding this issue and the implications it has for your business.

This is not the first mega bill that has been pushed out and then pushed for a vote with very little time allowing for no time for debate and discussion on the pros and cons of the bill. The question I ask and encourage everyone reading this to ask their representatives is how can the people we send to represent us and vote on issues in DC have any real knowledge of the bills they are voting on when they have little to no time to read and digest the bill? Our representative democracy is being turned completely on end and only a few people in the house (those who have written the bill) know what’s in it.

Oddly enough, we were in Congressman Meeks office (D-Florida, key sponsor of rescinding the 3% withholding bill in the house) discussing how we could work together to get the bill passed and the question of how this issue was ever passed came up. No one could remember for sure although there were several stories presented as to how it happened. The reality is it was buried in a bill (probably one similar to the current health care bill) and no one really caught the language and realized the ramifications of its implementation.

The 3% withholding mess is a direct result of trying to shove through legislation that no one has read and digested completely. Let’s learn from this lesson and work to stop mega bills from being submitted and passed with little to no time for evaluation. We are all left trying to pick up the pieces of irresponsible legislation.


About the Author

Jeff Buczkiewicz is the President and CEO of the Mason Contractors Association of America. Jeff has worked in the masonry industry for several years as the Executive Vice President of the Building Stone Institute and the Director of Marketing and Membership for the Mason Contractors Association of America. Jeff has also served as Secretary on the Board of the Natural Stone Council and is a former Board Member of the StonExpo Federation.

 

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