The legislature is in recess through the end of September, which provides time for the government affairs team to prepare for the fall session and map out future strategies. In October, we are planning the first in-person advocacy event since the COVID-19 shutdown. ABC members will have an opportunity to meet directly with key legislators in Harrisburg to advocate for policy priorities that impact the construction industry.
In addition to communicating directly with legislators, it is important that ABC financially support free enterprise candidates. There are important seats up for election in the 2022 cycle, and there is no doubt Pennsylvania will be a key state in determining the majorities in the U.S. House and U.S. Senate.
It is hard to believe that we are already halfway through 2021, and we are beginning to think about 2022. During the last 16 months, things felt like they would never get back to normal, yet the time flew by quite quickly. So, how have the first six months of 2021 turned out, and what is in store moving forward for ABC Keystone?
Are you along for the ride, just going with the flow, or are you directing the course and determining the outcome? As businesspersons, leaders, and managers, are we spending our talents and treasure on those activities that bring the best results, or, are we allowing time and events to slowly divert control of our companies away from our choices and decision-making and instead towards mandates made by government? Are we voluntarily giving up control?
It was a busy and impactful June for ABC public policy priorities. The House Commerce Committee advanced House Bill 424, which would prohibit indemnity clauses in construction contracts, by a vote of 23-1. We anticipate the bill will advance to the full House in the fall session. We provided comments on various pieces of legislation that would impact our members. We also supported legislation that would waive federal environmental permits on construction sites of less than five acres. Most significantly, we saw action on legislation (House Bill 536) that would reform the state’s mandated journeyworker-to-apprentice ratio rules, which have discriminated against the merit shop for 60 years.
A new session is well underway, and ABC is making a difference. Along with COVID-19 issues, the top priority of elected leaders in Harrisburg is preparing a 2021-22 state budget and passing legislation that gets Pennsylvanians back to work. Despite the ongoing pandemic, ABC of Pennsylvania’s government affairs program has been highly active. Though we are only six months into the new session, we have made progress on the following issues:
We are now in the month of June. It is our mid-way point for 2021, and I want to begin by recognizing and congratulating our dedicated Apprenticeship leaders and training staff for a championship year! Cindy DeWire (Director of Apprenticeship), her assistant Erin Hiles, and our instructors have done a great job making this an incredibly successful year – we thank you all for your hard work and dedication! Your outstanding efforts have allowed ABC Keystone to graduate the largest class in over 15 years! 108 apprentices from seven trades walked the stage on May 20, at the Clipper Magazine Stadium (home of the Lancaster Barnstormers)!
When you invest in membership with ABC Keystone, your ROI directly correlates to your company’s level of engagement. You gain dividends far beyond your investment by taking advantage of your benefits. These include member-exclusive discounts on training, education, and affinity programs; numerous business development events and committee meetings throughout the year providing you the opportunity to build relationships with ABC members looking for your products and services; and dedicated advocacy efforts taking place at the state and federal level on behalf of your business.
Another primary election has come and gone. Turnout this year was typical of most odd-numbered year elections, with between 20-25% of eligible voters casting ballots. Generally, there were more challenges on the Democratic ticket, and the trend continues where incumbent Democrats lost to candidates farther to the Left. Regarding special elections for open state House and Senate seats, the results went as expected with no flips. The results are in:
Prevailing wage work has been around since the Sixties. In Pennsylvania, a majority of the work on PA prevailing wage jobs is constructed by Merit Shop Contractors. As with any government funded project, contractors need to be aware of the risks, the rules and all the requirements placed on the job by the contracting agency.
In “normal” times, ABC of Pennsylvania holds a ‘Free Enterprise Day’ in April to advocate for policy issues important to the commercial construction industry. As we are all aware, COVID-19 continues to impact our business practices. While the Capitol Building in Harrisburg re-opened to the public in time for the spring session, gatherings are still restricted. Therefore, ABC conducted our first-ever “Virtual Free Enterprise Week,” where ABC members participated in Zoom calls with legislators serving on the House Labor & Industry Committee to educate them on House Bill 536, which would reform the journeyperson-to-apprentice mandate.
In mid-March, the legislature returned from the budget hearing recess to begin the spring session. The government affairs team has been working with the legislature and promoting our public policy agenda, as approved by the ABC of Pennsylvania board of directors. The following updates are a few areas of focus on which the government affairs team is working:
On March 15, the legislature returned from the “budget break” that allowed the House and Senate Appropriations Committees to hold public hearings on the governor’s proposed budget. In the months ahead, the state budget will be negotiated, along with many other priority bills. ABC of Pennsylvania will be pushing to get our priorities added to that list.is proposing to tax the Marcellus Shale, which ABC of Pennsylvania is on record as opposing. Other highlights include: