Washington D.C. in the SpringBy Walter Berry
Article Date: 06-01-2005
Copyright(C) 2008 Associated Equipment Distributors. All Rights Reserved.
You'll come away with a new perspective on how our government works.
Each spring, AED has a Government Affairs Conference in Washington D.C. This year it took place April 13 and 14. The purpose of the conference is to educate our members on the legislative issues that affect our industry and to update us on the current status of those issues. If you are like me and don't spend much time in Washington, or perhaps have never been there, going to the Nation's Capitol can be intimidating. The power represented in that city is impressive and daunting.
This year 28 AED members attended. Christian Klein, along with Christopher Durocher and Crystal Thayer of AED's Washington office, organized the event. They scheduled approximately 15 presenters half of whom were Members of Congress. We got to hear directly from the leaders of our country who are making decisions that affect the direction of our nation and our lives.
This year's schedule also included a reception and dinner where we met jointly with members of the Association of Equipment Manufacturers and the North American Equipment Dealers Association. After dinner, Charlie Cook spoke to the group. Cook, a political analyst, gave us fascinating insights into the current Washington scene.
The legislative priorities for this year include re-authorizing the federal highway program, increasing the funding for water infrastructure, repealing the Death Tax permanently, protecting equipment sellers and renters from meritless lawsuits, permanently increasing small business expensing levels, and allowing trade associations to offer health insurance to their members.
There are, of course, many others issues that affect us, but these are the top six that we focused on this year. If you have not already received one and want more information on these and other issues, request a copy of AED's 2005 Legislative Issues. You can download a copy by going to the web site, aednet.org. Follow the links to Government Affairs and then to AED's Legislative Priorities. You can also sign up to get periodic updates through an email newsletter called Washington Insights.
Every Congress is a little different due to changes in the balance of power and differing rules between the House and the Senate. This year the House has made significant progress on our legislative priorities. The Highway Bill has passed the House, and while we were in Washington, the House passed the permanent repeal of the Death Tax. The Senate, on the other hand, has not made much progress. Although the Republicans control 55 seats out of 100 in the Senate, it takes 60 votes to gain closure on any issue and with the current state of partisan politics, not much is getting approved.
One of the most valuable aspects of the Government Affairs Conference is the afternoon we meet with our respective Members of Congress to share our positions on these issues. As I said earlier, the first time you do this, you might feel somewhat anxious, but you find out quickly that our elected officials are just like you and me. And as my father reminds me, "They really work for us and not the other way around."
This year's Conference wrapped up with a tour and reception in the Capitol. The history represented there is impressive.
This entire event is really undervalued by our members. Although we had record numbers in attendance this year, it is still only a fraction of our membership. Even if you have little interest in politics, think about joining us next April in Washington. You won't be disappointed.
You'll come away with a new perspective on how our government works. I hope to see you next year.
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