AFSA Members Descend on Capitol Hill for Legislative Day in DC
Over 50 fire protection executives from across the nation attended the American Fire Sprinkler Association’s (AFSA) inaugural Capitol Hill Day to advocate for fire sprinklers and other pro-merit shop legislation on Capitol Hill. On October 3, participants attended a two-hour Capitol Hill preparation training featuring Ben Brubeck, vice president of regulatory, labor and state affairs of Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) of Metro Washington, who educated members on the legislative issues. Participants received a briefing package with individual schedules, maps, talking points, and other materials to assist with their respective pre-arranged meetings with House and Senate offices. The next day, members took the Hill en masse to meet with elected officials and policy experts about 2018 AFSA policy agendas.
The AFSA delegation met with over 20 Congressional representatives and staffers including:
• Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA): Senate Committee on Appropriations,
• Rep. Jim Langevin (D-RI): Responsible for inserting the provision for sprinklers in the tax bill in the House,
• Rep. Dennis Ross (R-Fl): House Committee on Financial Services & House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and
• Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY): House Committee on Education and the Workforce, Subcommittees on Higher Education and Workforce Development and Workforce Protections.
These meetings focused on pro-merit shop policies such as advocating for increased funding for workforce development and apprenticeship, fair and open competition on jobsites, providing thanks for the inclusion of fire sprinklers in the recent H.R. 1 Tax Reform Bill, and cautioning about the increase in states prohibiting statewide and new, local adoptions of fire sprinkler requirements in new, one- and two-family homes.
“This Legislative Fly-In inaugural event was a powerful teambuilder for the Upstate NY AFSA Chapter,” says Stacey J. Fantauzzi of North East Fire Protection Systems, Inc., Burnt Hills, New York. “As we shared our request for continued support of merit shop apprenticeship training, the Fair & Open Competition Act, and expressed our appreciation for their support of the Tax reform bill especially Section 179 to each legislator’s representative, we learned that we have much more in common than we realized.”
Often, when legislation, regulations, and policies are debated and enacted, fire sprinkler contractors are rarely given an opportunity to provide feedback. It’s beneficial for AFSA members to provide more input in shaping these laws. As such, AFSA will continue to increase the voice and influence of fire sprinkler contractors on the Hill and at state legislations.
“I have always utilized the benefits of being an AFSA member, so when the opportunity arose to be a part of Capitol Hill Day, I jumped at the chance,” recalls Jeff Bridges, JB Fire Protection Inc of Lake Forest, California. “Being able to meet with Representatives from California and plant the seeds of change on issues that affect apprenticeship and small businesses was a priceless experience. I look forward to future opportunities at the state and/or national level.”
While there were some attendees who had lobbied before, for many it was their first time to meet with their federal representatives. Walking the halls of Congress and having the opportunity to make their own voices heard was an experience like no other.
“We look forward to further developing and advocating the AFSA’s policy agenda and remain encouraged by the conversations on Capitol Hill about issues critical to fire sprinkler contractors,” states Kevin Korenthal, AFSA manager of chapter relations. “The pro-merit shop voice that AFSA provides is critical to the continued success and stability of our nation’s commerce and fire safety.”
AFSA hopes to hold another fly-in, so watch for upcoming announcements. Your participation in lobbying for the fire sprinkler industry can make an incredible difference. To learn more visit firesprinkler.org.