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NLBMDA holds annual Spring Meeting and Legislative Conference

By / May 31, 2018

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NLBMDA held its annual Spring Meeting and Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C., from March 19 to March 21. NLBMDA members attended association committee meetings, listened to public policy experts, and caught up with other lumber and building material industry professionals on the first day of the meeting. On the second day, attendees heard from elected officials, met with their lawmakers on issues of importance to the LBM industry, and attended a congressional reception.

After a morning of NLBMDA committee meetings on March 19, a lunch was held with featured speaker Chris Stirewalt, Political Editor for Fox News Channel. In this role, he helps coordinate political coverage across the network, provides political analysis for Fox News shows, and is part of the Fox News Decision Desk team on election nights. Stirewalt provided insight on the current political climate and what that could mean for the midterm congressional elections this November.

Following the lunch, attendees heard from two well-respected public policy experts. Chad Moutray, Chief Economist at the National Association of Manufacturers, provided an economic outlook and discussed the ongoing challenges employers face in finding workers with the right skills. Then attendees heard from Dr. Joseph Johnson, Executive Director of Federal Regulatory Process Review & Analysis Environment, Technology & Regulatory Affairs Division for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Dr. Johnson focused on regulatory reform, identified changes that lawmakers are considering, and explored the possible impact on the industry.

Monday afternoon concluded with the NLBMDA Board of Directors meeting. Then, an early-evening reception, which included a silent auction, was held. Proceeds from the silent auction support the political activities of the association.

Early the next morning on March 20, at the Washington Briefing Breakfast, Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) and Rep. David Young (R-Iowa) addressed attendees. Sen. Ernst spoke first on a range of issues including the tax cuts passed last year. “The passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was a monumental moment for our nation,” Ernst said, noting that nearly 4 million Americans received some form of bonus from their employers.

Rep. David Young (R-Iowa) addresses Legislative Conference attendees at the Briefing Breakfast.

Victor Fresca, President of the West Coast Lumber & Building Material Association, and Area Vice President of Southern California & Arizona at Dixieline Lumber Company, meets with Legislative Director Art Motta, of the office of Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA).

Iowa members of NLBMDA met with Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa).

Rep. Young followed Sen. Ernst and focused on the need for regulatory reform. “We think the federal government is regulating us to death,” Young said. “The government likes to do one size fits all. But New York is not like Iowa and not like Idaho.”

Following the breakfast, NLBMDA members were briefed on four issues they planned to discuss with lawmakers: renewal of the U.S.-Canada Softwood Lumber Agreement, Innocent Sellers Fairness Act (H.R. 1118), reform of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Lead: Renovation, Repair, and Painting (RRP) rule, and workforce development.

Dealers met with their lawmakers regarding the need for a new Softwood Lumber Agreement (SLA) between the U.S. and Canada. Duties ranging between 10% and 24% have been placed on Canadian imports. NLBMDA opposes the duties and supports both sides coming together to reach a new agreement that brings stability to prices and product supply.

NLBMDA continues to fight for legal reform with the Innocent Sellers Fairness Act, which would reduce the instances in which retailers would be subject to product liability lawsuits. EPA is in the process of reviewing the RRP rule. NLBMDA has met with EPA staff regarding the need for reform and is working with Congress to introduce legislation updating the rule.

Workforce development has grown in importance for dealers. Programs are needed to give individuals the skills required to access employment and advancement opportunities. Moreover, NLBMDA supports a robust temporary guest worker program to recruit legal foreign-born workers when there is a shortage of domestic workers.

After meeting with lawmakers, an evening reception was held in the Foyer of the Rayburn House Office Building. Several lawmakers stopped by the reception including Rep. Ted Yoho (R-Florida).

NLBMDA thanks all its members who helped make the event a success and advance issues of importance to the LBM industry.

Ben Gann

Ben Gann is Vice President of Legislative and Political Affairs for NLBMDA in Washington, D.C. For more information, visit www.Dealer.org.