Contractors Learn Government Relations

August 19, 2004
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Lake Coulson
LAKE TAHOE. Nev. - Attendees of the Associated Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors of Texas (APHCC-Texas) annual convention got some inside tips on how the national PHCC organization goes to work with the government every day, thanks to Lake Coulson, PHCC Government Relations director.

"The single biggest thing you want out of the national office is representation in Congress," Coulson said. He cited four components of advocacy that are important to government relations:

1. Grassroots campaign (i.e., letter writing).

2. Political action committee (PAC).

3. GOTV (Get Out the Vote).

4. Direct lobbying.

He said he would like to develop a base of political activists and expand PHCC's advocacy program. "We want to get people out to vote," Coulson said. "It is one of our true freedoms and everyone's patriotic duty."

He added that the PACs are the funding mechanism for his group's efforts. It's how PHCC "aligns itself with winners."

Rating The Reps

Coulson said his office tries to make candidate choices based on who PHCC members should support by using a "scoring" system for members of Congress.

"We established a vote scoring system to determine where legislators stand on issues, and give each of them a rating.

"I try to get lawmakers elected, those who are sensitive to the needs of our industry."

Coulson said that a recent poll of PHCC members revealed that their number-one concern is affordable health care. He said his group will continue to find the best Affordable Health Plan (AHP) for its members, but cautioned that nothing much is happening right now for AHP or other issues in Congress.

"Nothing is getting passed this year," he said. "Bills are stalled in the Senate because both sides do not want to concede victory to their opponent."

Coulson applauded the diligence of APHCC-Texas members, saying that a recent letter-writing campaign open to all PHCC members netted 153 letters, 88 of which came from APHCC-Texas.

He suggested that any PHCC member can send a form letter to his or her Congressperson by visiting the PHCC Web site,

Publication date: 08/23/2004

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