Having a voice in Washington is just one part of the equation. Equally as important is the true stakeholders, specifically members of trade associations, using their voices and speaking up when necessary. 

It’s been said “bad science makes for bad policy.” As suppliers specializing in plumbing products are learning as they grapple with the looming “lead in plumbing” deadline, only when all stakeholders’ views are taken into account will good public policy be possible. That was the unfortunate reality as the Reduction of Lead in Plumbing Act quickly was passing both chambers of Congress.

With the majority Democrats losing control of the House, they sought to ram through as much as they could prior to adjourning in 2010. And as we’ve learned by meeting with committee staffers this spring, they were looking for voices of opposition. By not having a full-time voice in Washington at that time, we’re now living under bad policy passed because of bad science.

Fast forward to today. ASA is an active participant in the tax reform discussions taking place right now.  Working alongside other employer-based associations in the S Corp Association, we regularly meet with staffers handling tax issues and remind them of the dangers of corporate-only tax reform. With the retirement of one Senate chairman and the term-limiting of the chairman in the House, many are growing confident of forthcoming tax reform. We are repeatedly being told staff has only been hearing from Fortune 500 employers that would stand to benefit from a reduction of the corporate tax rate.  Time and again, they are telling us they have not heard from those organized as S corps or pass-through entities, which is why we need to redouble our efforts to ensure tax reform doesn’t leave small business behind.

Having a voice in Washington is just one part of the equation. Equally as important is the true stakeholders, specifically members of trade associations, using their voices and speaking up when necessary. The successful advance of the Marketplace Fairness Act can be attributed to our peer groups such as the National Retail Federation representing the local, main street retailers and the Retail Industry Leaders Association, representing many nationally known stores across the country.

While their outsized Washington presence aided in this process, it also was the thousands of retailers and millions of employees at the grassroots level across America that spoke out and let their elected officials know how this impacted their businesses. With the support of our own members, ASA also has joined this effort, speaking up for the many members who are at risk of losing a customer to the Internet. Once again, this is another Washington example of politics making strange bedfellows.  Smaller, independent suppliers might compete against larger retailers, but there is little sunlight between wholesalers and retailers when the Internet rears its ugly head.

This fall at NetworkASA 2013, our members will have the opportunity to visit with their elected officials and their staffs to share the challenges and opportunities their companies face. If your business is repeatedly being robbed or shortchanged of your copper, then you need to educate your legislators on the Metal Theft Reduction Act. If you are a PVF supply house reliant on energy exploration, how the Keystone XL issue plays out would surely interest your elected officials. Finally, members of Congress must hear from you on how your business is managing the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

The constitutions of third-world countries and dictatorships limit the power of the people; Americans are blessed with a constitution that limits the power of the government. Each day, we wake up in a nation that allows us to freely dissent and speak up when we believe our government is wrong.

At NetworkASA 2013, our members will have the opportunity to be part of this process firsthand.  Partnering with competitors and regional peers alike, members will spend the afternoon sharing their experiences with their elected officials and reminding them of a simple fact: when including the mechanical segment, plumbing, heating, cooling and piping makes up nearly 60% of what goes into that member of Congress’ home.

Speaking with ONE voice, ASA’s members will achieve tangible results, network with peers, connect with their lawmakers and take part in our governing process.

For full NetworkASA 2013 details, including online registration, visit www.asa.net and click on the ONE INDUSTRY, ONE VOICE, ONE FUTURE button in the upper right-hand corner of the homepage.