Since 1978, many politicians have won seats in Congress with a little help from NECA. That was when our association launched our political action committee (PAC) to support policy-makers who care about such things as a strong economy that grows jobs, about ensuring rules and regulations don’t go overboard, and about giving everyone a fair chance to succeed.

The committee continues to do a remarkable job. Now it has an even better name. Renaming the former Electrical Construction Political Action Committee (ECPAC) involved more than picking a moniker that identifies the source of the political largesse. We also wanted it to be something well-known and respected. The committee should be associated with the highest ethical standards and with consistently making the right choices. The term itself should convey a sense of strength and staying power.

Naturally, we called it NECAPAC.

You see, NECA already has a good name on Capitol Hill. We have earned it through hard work—applied persistently and at every opportunity—and through our track record of results.

As I write this column, NECA is getting ready for the biggest annual event on our government affairs calendar. Running May 13–14, the 2015 NECA Legislative Conference will bring 150 member-contractors to Washington, D.C., to convey the concerns of thousands of their counterparts to our nation’s lawmakers. Conference participants know that, though any one of them can make a critical difference, unified action increases the odds of success.

Our legislative goals may not all be accomplished through a single conference, but this is a special opportunity to advocate for our priority issues in the ongoing quest for good government and equitable laws promoting a healthful business climate. A strong, continuous grassroots effort that touches the legislators in their home districts, as well as on Capitol Hill, is also important. NECA chapters build relationships with their national representatives and with their state legislators. Our politically astute members ensure lawmakers know where electrical contractors stand on the issues and what the legislators must do to maintain the support of their constituents in the electrical contracting industry. Being active in Washington, D.C., and all 50 states enables NECA to speak with a loud, influential voice.

We have a lot to talk about with Congress this year. Some of it is in response to President Barack Obama’s disappointing 2015 State of the Union Address, in which he identified passage of a long-term infrastructure bill as a priority but failed to elaborate on any specifics. Also disappointing is his outright opposition of the job-creating Keystone XL pipeline as well as his support of tax reform that misses the mark. Despite those challenges, there are some key legislative issues that we have been addressing on behalf of our contractors. Listed in the broadest terms, they include the following:

• Investing in our nation’s economic future: A robust investment in our nation’s infrastructure is essential to ensuring electrical contractors stay in business, their employees keep working, and the economy remains strong. This includes our transportation, energy, clean water and waterways infrastructure.

• Investing in our workforce: Electrical contractors know their employees are crucial to their success, which is why NECA contractors invest in the nation’s most comprehensive training and apprenticeship programs, compensate our skilled workforce accordingly, and provide quality healthcare and retirement benefits. The result is the most-skilled and most-productive electricians in the nation.

• Enacting comprehensive tax reform: Comprehensive tax reform that includes significant changes to the individual and corporate tax rates must be tackled as soon as possible to propel economic growth and make America more competitive.

• Reforming procurement policy to improve delivery of construction services: Electrical contractors believe the federal government should afford any qualified contractor the opportunity to serve the government through free and open competition.

I encourage all NECA contractors to participate in this year’s legislative conference. I urge ECs everywhere to keep up with legislative issues important to our industry—whether national, regional or local—and to reach out to the lawmakers. Let them know what you need and what you want them to do about it. Hold them accountable.

Furthermore, I encourage you to take up this task and pursue it diligently, as if your livelihood depends on it. When you consider the importance of the legislation and regulations that govern your work, it really does.