Joel Long (right) of Gastonia Sheet Metal was one of four North Carolina business owners chosen to meet with President Bush.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Joel Long, vice president of the commercial division of Gastonia Sheet Metal and a member of the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors - National Association (PHCC), was one of four North Carolina business owners chosen to talk with President Bush for about 20 minutes during the president's April 5 visit to Charlotte.

"I was a lot more humbled with it than I thought I would be," Long said. "It was pretty amazing."

Long noted that he made the most of the opportunity to lobby for three key issues supported by PHCC: repeal of the estate tax, tort reform, and association health plans.

"Health insurance is one of our company's big issues," Long said. "There's a bill being considered by Congress that would allow associations such as PHCC to offer members health benefits at costs significantly lower than members can currently obtain in the marketplace on their own, and we let the president know how important that would be for us."

The president expressed support for the issues discussed, according to Long, but cautioned that it can take a while for measures to come through the ranks because of red tape in Washington.

Publication date: 04/26/2004