WASHINGTON - "You represent the industry" was the message members of the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors - National Association heard during PHCC's 10th annual Legislative Day.

Before heading to Capitol Hill appointments, the 100 PHCC members attending Legislative Day were told they had the distinction that day of being the only group that would be speaking on behalf of the entire industry. The members were challenged to make the most of their day and not be timid in voicing concerns.

"Our members essentially were representing the 80,000-plus plumbing, heating, and cooling contractors in the United States, and they took this role very seriously," said Jim Stack, PHCC president. "I think it was very rewarding for them to know they were part of a very important process in American government."

During a March 16 breakfast, two keynote speakers discussed issues like the Small Business Health Plan (SBHP) legislation, tort reform, the estate tax, tax relief, Medicaid/Medicare, and Social Security reform. The speakers were Rep. Sue Kelly, R-NY, and Sen. Richard Burr, R-NC.

Kelly said she was optimistic that if the SBHP legislation is passed by the Senate, it will be passed by Congress because it is a passion of Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert, R-IL. She said a great appeal of SBHPs is that they will allow industries like construction to develop a plan that is specific to its needs.

On tort reform, she encouraged PHCC contractors to ask for health studies by the Centers for Disease Control related to mold exposure so that more scientific information is available to fight frivolous lawsuits. Kelly also talked about the need for tax relief for small businesses, like permanent repeal of the estate tax, and also discussed her efforts to reduce federal red tape.

Burr described the current political atmosphere in Washington as "divisive," which has caused an inability to consider big issues. He said the two areas of necessity in today's global economy are energy and health. Small business health plans will help ease health issues, although passage of the legislation could be a long process. According to Burr, reforms in Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security also are needed, and all Americans need to engage in these debates.

Publication date: 04/03/2006