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A Good Day on Capitol Hill — AICC Members Get Results

By Eric Elgin

September 13, 2018

width=300I was extremely pleased to participate with several leaders from AICC-member companies who joined other printing and packaging industry executives for the 2018 Print & Packaging Legislative Summit in Washington, D.C., June 19–20. (See July/August BoxScore, Legislative Report.)

We advocated on a broad range of pending matters before Congress: opposing tariffs on aluminum and paper; tax reform 2.0, including making expensing of capital investment permanent; legislating association health plans (AHPs—see May/June BoxScore, Legislative Report) as a stronger solution to the current executive order; and supporting the reauthorization of the Perkins Workforce Career and Technical Education (CTE) Act.

That last bit of legislation is a mouthful, but it is so vitally important to independent manufacturers like us. The aim of CTE is to keep federal money flowing into technical education programs aimed at training students and individuals from other vocations in manufacturing careers, and connecting them with employers who need qualified people in manufacturing operations. Virtually every AICC survey of membership points to the need for finding and retaining qualified labor as priority No. 1. AICC’s education programming—especially online content free to all member companies and their employees—goes a long way in this regard, but having the government money behind additional training and engagement opportunities is very powerful.

CTE was passed by the House last year, but it had been stalled in the Senate. I am pleased to report that on Monday, July 23, the Senate voted to reauthorize the Perkins Act. The House adopted the Senate version of the bill on Wednesday, July 25, and sent the bill to President Donald Trump for his signature. Coincidental so soon after we were on Capitol Hill? I think not.

I also believe that our voice as an industry was stronger because the actual business owners and leaders were in the Congressional offices speaking on these vital face-to-face with representatives, senators, and staff from their home states and districts. No third parties or industry lobbyists conveying the messaging—true advocacy by true believers who see the good and bad effects of national and local policy in their businesses each day.

The ability to speak directly with those responsible for policy and lawmaking is crucial to effect the outcomes that our industry needs. AICC President Steve Young was his usual direct self when he said of the Summit, “The business community cannot sit back on its laurels, especially now that we have made progress under this administration and Congress. Our annual Summit is a chance for our members to become activists on behalf of their businesses and their communities.”

An important takeaway message given to the participants in this year’s Summit was the encouragement that they should engage their senators and representatives back home. I am challenging you, the readers of BoxScore, to do the same, even if you were not in Washington, D.C., with us. Invite your senators and representatives to tour your plant. Share with them the fact that your business is an important employer and pillar in the community. Make them aware of how you feel on national affecting the manufacturing community, the packaging industry, and the box business, as well as the that may be unique to your location.

Your influence counts—use it!


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Eric Elgin is owner of Oklahoma Interpak and Chair of AICC’s Government Affairs Subcommittee. He can be reached at 918-687-1681 or eric@okinterpak.com.