SOURCE: Pit and Quarry | October 17, 2023
The National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association’s (NSSGA) annual Legislative & Policy Forum drew a record number of attendees to Washington, with 330 aggregate industry leaders teaming with representatives from the National Asphalt Pavement Association (NAPA) and the National Ready Mixed Concrete Association (NRMCA) for two days of advocacy on Capitol Hill.
The joint Hill Day was a first for NSSGA, NAPA and NRMCA. According to NSSGA, members from the three associations conducted more than 300 meetings with congressional representatives’ offices. More than 100 members of Congress were expected to meet with industry leaders, including Sens. Shelley Moore Capito (R-West Virginia), Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Jon Tester (D-Montana).
Several House members were also slated to meet with members of the associations, including Reps. James Clyburn (D-South Carolina), Rosa DeLauro (D-Connecticut), Mario Diaz Balart (R-Florida), Tom Emmer (R-Minnesota), Sam Graves (R-Missouri), Rick Larsen (D-Washington) and Scott Peters (D-California).
“Our industry partnerships are crucial here in Washington,” says Michael Johnson, president and CEO of NSSGA. “Collaboration with strategic partners and coalitions helps us all amplify our message. There’s strength in numbers.”
Those who “stormed the Hill” as part of the Legislative & Policy Forum brought several messages to lawmakers.
One message delivered was that the Mine Safety & Health Administration should align its proposed silica rule with the Occupational Safety & Health Administration’s. The industry contingent from Ohio, for example, led with this message during its meetings, detailing how silicosis is not an issue for aggregates like it is for coal.
Recent developments with the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule also precipitated conversations on the Hill, as a revised Army Corps of Engineers/Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rule does not fully adhere to the Supreme Court’s decision earlier this year in Sackett v EPA.
As NSSGA describes, the latest WOTUS rule provides new ambiguities that will allow regulators to expand WOTUS beyond congressional intent. The association argues that more clarity is needed to give aggregate producers the certainty they need to effectively run their businesses.
Yet another talking point industry leaders took to the Hill was the state of rail transportation. Rail service delays are still creating bottlenecks for materials delivery, the association says.
As one solution, NSSGA members asked their congresspeople to support the Surface Transportation Board in moving ahead with a proposed reciprocal switching rule that promotes competition and improves service.
Other messages NSSGA members took to the Hill: pass key transportation legislation; keep infrastructure funding flowing; remove “red tape” impeding material suppliers; and support the future of construction and mining professionals while reforming the nation’s immigration system.
“Through successful events such as this one, we continue to advance public policy that helps our members, and we push back against the regulations that don’t,” says Seth Hankowski, senior vice president at All States Materials Group who currently serves NSSGA as board chair. “This week allows us to build relationships with our elected officials, and our fantastic government and regulatory affairs team is able to further strengthen those relationships through ROCKPAC.”
Other meeting components
In addition to visiting with members of Congress on Capitol Hill, NSSGA brought several lawmakers to the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill – the host venue for the Legislative & Policy Forum – for updates and awards.
Rep. John Joyce (R-Pennsylvania) served as one speaker at the event. The U.S. workforce was a theme of his remarks, with Joyce noting that two generations will pass before the workforce is restored.
“All work is honorable,” Joyce says, referencing words his father told him.
Reps. Troy Balderson (R-Ohio) and Greg Stanton (D-Arizona) also paid NSSGA members a visit at the Hyatt Regency, accepting NSSGA Rock Star Awards for their support of the industry.
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