Washington—With more than more than 100 PHCC contractors, state and local chapter executives, and p-h-c industry partners descending on Capitol Hill last month for the Plumbing Heating Cooling Contractors (PHCC) Legislative Conference, the message is quite clear: the future starts now.
PHCC National President Laurie Crigler set the tone for the event prior to meetings on Capitol Hill, as p-h-c industry partners delivered a unified message to members of Congress about ongoing challenges that will have a long-term impact on the p-h-c industry and the country. “Politics is NOT a spectator sport and your involvement is key to successful advocacy at all levels—local, state and national. None of this works without you,” she said.
Moreover, PHCC continues to educate members of congress of the tremendous opportunities within the plumbing and HVAC trades, “Part of the answer to job growth in this country has to be the continued development of the skilled trades. It’s not just talk anymore,” says Mark Riso, Vice President of Legislative Affairs, PHCC.
PHCC members expressed key support for workforce development through the Promoting Real Opportunity Success and Prosperity through Education Reform (PROSPER). Riso added that he is happy with the “positive knowledge on Capitol Hill, as lawmakers continue to look at apprenticeship programs.”
Zach Boren, Director of Policy and Standards for the Office of Apprenticeship for the Department of Labor, shared the latest from the Department’s Task Force on Apprenticeship expansion. While citing statistics, Boren noted that more than six million jobs are unfilled and more than eight million workers lack the necessary credentials. “Apprenticeships are the key to closing the nation’s skills gap as they are a customizable, flexible and proven business-driven model for developing workers,” Boren said.
In the coming months, the department will support innovative, work-based learning approaches, technology modernization, and state initiatives to expand apprenticeship programs. By modernizing the government’s role in apprenticeships while developing new programs, they expect to achieve President Trump’s goal of attracting one million new apprentices over the next five years. This fall, the Department of Labor will again host National Apprenticeship Week (NAW) to highlight the benefits of apprenticeship.
In addition to workplace development in the trades, during several events and meetings with Congressional members and their staff, PHCC members advocated for increased water system infrastructure spending, and career and technical education, while thanking congressional members for recently passed tax reform.
PHCC also expressed support for workforce development though reauthorization of the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA). Members of Congress are aware of the country’s infrastructure problems, and Riso reiterates that they are not taking for granted the shape of the water systems in this country. “Flint was a wake-up call; we are impressed with members of the Hill’s knowledge of the degradation of the country’s water systems, and the steps needed to resolve the overall problem,” says Riso.
At the Congressional Breakfast, guest speaker Rep. Jim Costa (D-CA) gave his insights into the president’s infrastructure initiative, stating, “We’ve been living off the infrastructure investments of our parents and grandparents, and haven’t been making the same investments (as they have).” Costa added that Congress will need to figure out how federal components can help fund infrastructure improvements, “and this can only happen in a bi-partisan fashion.”
One of the highlights of this year’s conference was the annual Congressional Reception at Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill. Several members of Congress including Rep. Steve Chabot, Rep. Tom O’Halleran and Rep. David Schweikert attended the reception and spoke in favor of PHCC’s support of WIFIA and the PROSPER Act.
Rep. David Schweikert (R-AZ), who serves on the House Ways and Means Tax Reform Subcommittee, gave a behind-the-scenes look at the complexities involved with passing the massive tax reform bill. “The first step was to pass tax reform,” he said. “The calculator won. Now we can start seeing some great things in our society.”
PHCC’s next legislative event in 2018 will be an education session at CONNECT 2018, “Decoded: Legislative and Regulatory Rules and Regulations Solved!” during which Riso and vice president of Regulatory Affairs Chuck White will explain the complex rules and regulations that keep contractors up at night. The next PHCC Legislative Conference is scheduled May 7-8, 2019, on Capitol Hill.
“PHCC is a conduit to help its members partner with lawmakers; to partner with the process to be able to design laws and rules to improve the quality of life for everybody,” says Riso.