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Catherine Treadwell Perry, Director of Government Relations
|ASA Members Gear Up for The Hill
This week in D.C. ASA members will flood Capitol Hill to speak about issues that affect their businesses! We have over 80 ASA members and over 77 Congressional meetings. The most important part of a visiting your member of Congress is the message. ASA Advocacy has worked to ensure that your message is concise, clear, and effective. Our three big topics are workforce development, infrastructure, and the passage of the DRIVE Safe Act.
Workforce development is crucial for our industry and ASA supports more investment in applied technology training to return craft education to our schools and to encourage the next generation to join our workforce. Statistics show that for every five plumbers that retire, only one is being replaced. According to ASA’s 2015 Labor Study, the total workforce for the PHCP/PVF wholesale industry is estimated at 205,408 full time and part time employees and by 2020, 25% of the employees in the PHCP and PVF industries will have retired.
There is a critical need to hire and train qualified replacements throughout the supply chain, which begins with returning craft training to our high schools. ASA supports legislation and regulatory policies that invest in the next generation of workers needed to meet the demands in all facets of the PHCP and PVF industries.
ASA supports CTE programs and apprenticeships in any upcoming infrastructure bill! Any investment to improve our infrastructure systems could create millions of new jobs, requiring millions of skilled workers to fill them. ASA supports ensuring that there is an educated and well trained workforce to meet the demand. It is important that during this discussion what goes into buildings such as plumbing, heating, cooling, and piping, but the need for a workforce to manufacture, distribute, sale, install, and build these critical products are not left out.
ASA supports and promotes policies which conserve our nation’s natural resources, protects our environment and advances the restoration of our nation’s water infrastructure. Therefore, ASA supports legislation to adequately finance America’s drinking water and wastewater infrastructure.
Our Nation’s infrastructure is decades behind and Flint, Michigan was a prime example of why we need an infrastructure package that is designed to be an “all inclusive” of the needs we are facing today- such adequately financing America’s drinking water and wastewater infrastructure. According to the EPA, CBO, and the GAO, the projected shortfall in clean water infrastructure investment will approach $500 billion over the next two decades. We cannot afford a quick fix for these issues.
When infrastructure is mentioned it is crucial to also include building and what goes inside of buildings, such as plumbing, heating, and cooling products. When natural disasters hit, buildings must be rebuilt with current codes and standards, as opposed to the codes and standards that were in place when the building was originally built.
The DRIVE Safe Act is important because it is increasingly difficult for ASA member companies to find the drivers they need, because federal rules prohibit drivers under 21 from operating trucks interstate, even though all 48 contiguous states allow 18-year-olds to drive trucks intrastate. As a result, truck driver candidates under 21 are forced to choose different paths, or to take on tens of thousands of dollars in college debt, only to face a job market with grim prospects for workers whose skills are not in demand.
The DRIVE Safe Act would help expand apprenticeships in trucking, through a rigorous 400-hour program that requires apprentices to demonstrate competency in at least 10 safety performance benchmarks under the tutelage of an experienced driver—all on state-of-the-art Commercial Motor Vehicles (CMVs) equipped with industry-leading safety technologies endorsed by the NTSB. In this way, the bill would incentivize the increased adoption of such technologies in fleets, by offering carriers access to a broader pool of labor in exchange for these additional investments in safety.
These three messages are crucial for our industry! ASA Advocacy is excited that ASA members will have the opportunity to meet with their members of Congress and let them know exactly what these issues mean to the industry!
- House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Congress should pass a law to make it clear that a sitting president can be indicted. In an interview, she also said she has not changed her mind on pursuing impeachment.
- In a 301-123 vote, the House passed a continuing resolution
that would avert a government shutdown at the end of the month by funding the government through Nov. 21.
- Senior Senate Democrats are moving to stop demands from the left and some 2020 presidential contenders to impeach Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, with Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) telling them to "get real." Still, Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) filed an impeachment resolution calling on the House Judiciary Committee to investigate whether Kavanaugh should be impeached following new reporting about allegations that he exposed himself to a female classmate at a college party at Yale University in the 1980s.
- Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) continued her steady rise in the Democratic primary following the third round of presidential debates, rising to within 2 points of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) for the No. 2 slot, according to the first post-debate poll. Former Vice President Joe Biden still leads the race, with 32 percent of the first-choice vote share, followed by Sanders with 20 percent and Warren with 18 percent.
- During an interview on MSNBC, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio ended his four-month campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination. De Blasio, who was at 1 percent or less in national polls, failed to qualify for the third Democratic debate and was unlikely to qualify for the next debate in October.
- Rep. Paul Cook (R-Calif.) said he will retire from Congress at the end of his term, joining more than a dozen Republican lawmakers who have announced that they will not return after the 2020 elections. It is expected that California Assemblyman Jay Obernolte will seek the seat in Cook's district, which has historically favored Republicans.
- Rep. Joe Kennedy (D-Mass.) launched his primary challenge against Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.). Despite Kennedy's famous lineage, leading progressives such as Warren and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York have endorsed Markey for re-election.
- Bill To Help Communities Get Lead Out of Drinking Water Passes House Unanimously. The House passed unanimously the Water Infrastructure Funding Transfer Act that will help communities across New Jersey and the country remove lead from drinking water. The Senate passed the bill unanimously last week. The Water Infrastructure Funding Transfer Act gives states facing public health crises from lead in drinking water the flexibility to make a one-time transfer, up to $100 million, of the federal funds in their Clean Water State Revolving Fund to their Drinking Water State Revolving Fund for projects that will remove lead from drinking water. New Jersey would be able to utilize this change by transferring federal funds from the Clean Water State Revolving Fund to the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund to offset some of the $120 million bonding project to replace lead service lines in Newark. This flexibility would also allow the State to provide assistance to other municipalities in New Jersey to address the threat of lead in drinking water. After elevated lead levels were found in two homes in Newark last month, Sens. Menendez and Cory Booker and Congressmen Albio Sires (N.J.-08) and Donald Payne, Jr. (N.J.-10) previously sent a letter calling on the EPA to assist state and local efforts in delivering safe drinking water to residents. The NJ delegation also called for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to provide critical resources to expand and administer lead blood screenings in Newark and other affected communities. They also separately urged the USDA to offer additional assistance to serve residents' immediate needs by making temporary changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women Infants and Children (WIC). (The IAPMO Washington Update)
- Tap Water Contaminants Linked to Cancer Cases. Contaminated tap water causes 100,000 cancer cases in the US over a lifetime, according to a new study from scientists with the Environmental Working Group. Most of the cancer risk is from naturally occurring arsenic, the byproducts of chemicals used to disinfect water and radioactive contaminants, according to the analysis, which was published in the peer-reviewed journal Heylion. “We want people to realize that water that meets legal specifications may still cause health risks based on the latest science,” said Sydney Evans, lead author of the study. “This is a concern nationwide, whether urban or rural, with a small or large [water system].” The number of cancer cases from water contamination is small compared with the total number of cancer cases in the US. In 2018 alone, the American Cancer Society reported an estimated 1.7m new cancer cases. Assuming a lifetime of 70 years, that adds up to many millions of instances of cancer. But Olga Naidenko, vice-president of science investigations at the Environmental Working Group, stressed that water contamination is responsible for a high percentage of the cancer cases that have environmental causes. The US is ranked well for water quality because it has largely eliminated biological contaminants, such as the bacterium E coli, which are more common in developing nations. Other dangerous contaminants remain problematic, however. Issues in small, rural communities have been well documented, but the study notes contaminants in the water in large communities also “contribute a significant share of overall cancer risk associated with drinking water." The researchers studied water quality profiles from more than 48,000 systems. Evans recommends people check their own local water reports and select a suitable filter, if necessary. (The IAPMO Washington Update)
- President Donald Trump expressed support for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's (D-Calif.) newly introduced proposal to curb drug prices by authorizing the government to negotiate prices for at least 25 of the 250 costliest drugs under Medicare, and make those lower prices available to all consumers. The reaction from Trump stands in contrast to criticism from congressional Republicans such as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who said the bill is dead on arrival in the Senate as the president encourages a bipartisan approach. (Reuters)
- Tennessee is on track to become the first state in the nation to convert its state Medicaid program to a block grant, allowing Tennessee to accept fixed annual payments from the government. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is reviewing the plan, which would affect more than 1 million of the 1.4 million TennCare beneficiaires and insulate some aspects of Medicaid, such as prescription drugs and reimbursements for hospitals that serve large low-income populations, from the change. (The Washington Post)
- The House Education and Labor Committee tasked with voting on legislation to curb surprise medical bills is delaying a markup that was planned for this week, as mounting pressure from industry groups has driven a rift between lawmakers serving on the committee, according to House aides and lobbyists. The House Energy and Commerce Committee has already passed a bill that would dictate the rates paid to doctors by insurers, but some lawmakers on Education and Labor believe that fix is not fair to providers. (The Hill)
- The Environmental Protection Agency and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced it will officially revoke California's January 2013 waiver to set its own vehicle emission standards and zero emission vehicle rules, a move will take effect 60 days after the revocation is soon formally published.
- Trump tentatively greenlighted an increase to the amount of biofuels that must be blended into gas supply annually by a three-year rolling average of the gallons exempted through blending waivers, according to two sources familiar with the matter. The move, which a media outlet estimated would add 1.35 billion gallons to the 2020 blending quota, would be in addition to another plan in the works to increase 2020 biofuel volumes by 1 billion gallons.
- The United States and China restarted trade talks in Washington, with Chinese Vice Minister for Finance Liao Min and Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Jeffrey Gerrish participating, and U.S. Agriculture Department Secretary Sonny Perdue said a trade delegation from China will visit American farms next week in an effort to "build goodwill." The negotiations precede top-level talks in October between U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He. (Bloomberg)
- The Fed is considering adding to its balance sheet due to a sudden uptick in overnight lending rates this week, Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said, adding that the central bank may "need to resume the organic growth of the balance sheet earlier than we thought." Any action would be approved at the Fed's Oct. 29-30 meeting. (The Wall Street Journal)
- A bipartisan congressional report found that the past three government shutdowns cost taxpayers about $4 billion, based on a survey of 26 federal agencies that excluded the departments of Defense, Agriculture, Justice and Commerce, and the Environmental Protection Agency. The government spent at least $3.7 billion in back pay to furloughed federal workers and incurred at least $338 million in other costs, according to the report. (The Washington Post)
- ASA’s NETWORK '19 is in Washington, D.C.
- ASA members head to the Hill on Wednesday.
| || NEWS FROM STATE AND LOCAL |
Update on State Bills Being Tracked
New State Activity
- Florida (HB 139) - provides requirements for school districts relating to prevention of lead in drinking water at public schools
- Illinois – on September 18, 2019 the Illinois Department of Veterans' Affairs (IDVA) today announced negative test results for Legionella bacteria at the Illinois Veterans Home at Manteno (IVHM), where it responded to a single case of Legionnaires' disease on August 30. Read more…
- New Jersey (S4115) - Requires DOE to post link to school district drinking water lead level test results on homepage of its website.
- Wisconsin (SB424) - Testing for lead in drinking water in facilities used for recreational and educational camps and child care.
- Wisconsin (SB423) - Lead testing of potable water sources in certain schools; providing loans for lead remediation in certain schools; and providing an exception to referendum restrictions for lead remediation.
- Wisconsin (AB399) - Bonding for lead service line replacement and granting bonding authority.
President Trump on Sunday suggested that he discussed Joe Biden during a call with his Ukrainian counterpart and went on the offensive against the Democratic presidential candidate and the whistleblower who reportedly raised concerns about the president's interaction with the foreign leader. Speaking to reporters outside the White House, Trump again defended his conduct during the call with Ukraine.
New Hampshire is feeling underappreciated in the 2020 presidential cycle, partly because many of the biggest names are coming to the Granite State less frequently. Former Vice President Joe Biden made just 13 campaign appearances in the state between January and July 2019, while President Trump held no campaign events in New Hampshire in that time frame — even though it is one of a handful of states he lost in 2016 where he might have a path to victory in 2020.
Recently, Chinese officials abruptly canceled plans to tour farms harmed by Beijing’s tariffs on American agricultural goods, dampening hopes of successful trade talks between the U.S. and China. After meeting with Trump administration officials in Washington recently, trade negotiators from China cut short a trip intended to foster goodwill between the countries as they seek a deal to end their trade war.
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