“This was my fifth ABC Legislative Day, and each year the importance of speaking to our legislators is ever prominent, but one of the most important things about this event is to gather members of the various ABC chapters to build and instill a sense of purpose as a united front,” said Jon Fisher, President, ABC of Texas.
Bi-annually, all eight ABC Texas chapters join as one powerful voice to inform legislators about the issues affecting the construction industry and to showcase the opportunities and diversity ABC members contribute to our industry and the economy. During this event, seasoned Legislative Day veterans and new members share their testimonies and stories to their respective legislator.
“Being a relatively new Chapter President, this was my first ABC Texas Legislative Day. It was most impressive to see so many ABC members from all over the state come together to support and argue against common issues that affect our industry. Legislators can hear from association staff all day long, but they listen to the members when they talk of the potential impact a bill could have on their businesses, employees, and communities,” said Tracey Evers, President of Associated Builders and Contractors Central Texas Chapter.
Industrial and commercial contractors, suppliers, and the members visited more than 100 local and regional legislators to promote ABC’s core value of free enterprise philosophy and to testify and educate legislators about construction business issues, the importance of having certain bills passed, and more.
For the 85th Texas Legislative Session, ABC members were lobbying for high priority issues impacting not only the businesses of the members but the overall function of the industry. Conversations with legislators involved members sharing personal testimonies and thoughts about ways to improve the skilled labor workforce shortage through creating a new licensing category, a third party NCCER Industrial Electrician certification, as the basis for industrial Journeyman Electricians that would allow them to be recognized for this license.
Conversations also centered on modernizing Texas lien laws. ABC is recommending that the industry continue to move forward into the digital age and host an online platform to help alleviate the need to file liens by ensuring that contractors and suppliers are paid in a timely fashion. Members also rallied behind topics such as public employees’ dues deduction and neutrality in state government contracting— to ensure that all contractors are able to fairly compete for jobs based on merit.
“As the state continues to attract newcomers from all over the country who may not share the pro-business attitude that has brought our state to where it is today, it is important for us to keep a strong presence at the Capitol,” said Meloni McDaniel, President and CEO of TEXO. “
Other issues that members lobbied for consisted of the use of safe harbor language within the E-Verify Bill, sole remedy within worker’s compensation, employee misclassification, retainage/trust funds, and state breach of contract cleanup.
“As one of the largest industries in Texas, we have to stay involved in our state politics, I would encourage anyone who has never attended the Legislative Day before to get involved and visit your representative,” said McDaniel. “Plato said it best, ‘One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.”
ABC serves as the lynchpin by keeping members informed of current issues, being their political voice, and connecting them to elected officials. Later in the year, members will have the opportunity to educate Congress about the issues that affect their businesses and spread the word about the contributions ABC members make to the construction industry in Washington during ABC National’s Legislative Week.
“It doesn’t matter how long you have been an ABC member, if your business is feeling the impact from an issue that your local legislators can help change, you should be present on Legislative Day,” said Russell Hamley, ABC Greater Houston Chapter President.
ABC will continue to work with the Texas Legislature to improve and promote merit shop principles within the industry and looks forward to March when bills begin hitting the floor!