The beginning of every year brings a range of challenging opportunities for the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) and the industry we do our best to represent. A new occupant in the White House coupled with changes to the makeup of Congress puts Republicans in control of the executive and legislative branches of the federal government. I believe these changes offer a variety of opportunities for NECA to improve the economic picture of electrical contractors for many years to come.
Earlier this year, NECA sent a letter to all 535 members of Congress detailing several of our priority issues for the 115th Congress. In the letter, Marco Giamberardino, NECA’s executive director of government affairs, wrote that we look forward to working with Congress on creating constructive and necessary solutions that will benefit the electrical construction industry, help create jobs and grow the nation’s economy. NECA urged members of Congress to address the following issues that are critical to the continuing recovery of the construction industry during this important first legislative session:
- Authorize innovative composite plans to reform the multi-employer pension system. Congress should allow for the use of a voluntary and flexible pension plan option that would provide a reliable retirement income to employees while ensuring that sponsoring employers are not exposed to uncontrollable financial risks.
- Repeal the Cadillac tax. Any reforms to our healthcare system must include elimination of the Cadillac tax, and the tax exclusion for employer-sponsored health insurance should not be capped in any way. Employers that provide quality health insurance to their employees should not be penalized for doing the right thing.
- Invest in the nation’s infrastructure. A robust investment in our nation’s infrastructure is essential to keeping ECs in business, their employees working, our nation rebuilding and our economy sound.
- Enact comprehensive tax reform. High tax rates and a complex tax code hamper our nation’s competitive standing and hinder economic growth.
- Pass a comprehensive energy bill. Congress should take long-awaited final action on a comprehensive energy policy bill that would promote development of all available energy resources, including upgrading and modernizing transmission lines, streamlining the approval process for pipeline infrastructure, incentivizing the use of energy storage technologies, and investing in clean and renewable energy sources.
- Protect America’s workforce. 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.
I also want to highlight our upcoming National Legislative Conference, the premier opportunity for NECA members to hear about issues affecting the industry and meet the leaders who are working to provide real solutions. Our conference is about policy, not partisanship. NECA ensures leading members of Congress from both sides of the political aisle are on hand to brief participants on the latest happenings on Capitol Hill, and attendees will have ample opportunity to meet with their senators and representatives to discuss the many different issues affecting our industry.
The conference is scheduled for Apr. 25–28 in Washington, D.C. Registration opens this month, and I encourage you to attend if you’re a NECA member interested in effecting positive change for the electrical construction industry. I look forward to seeing you in D.C.!
About The Author
David A. Hardt is the current president of the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) and contributes the President's Desk column monthly. He took office in January 2015 and will serve a three-year term.