By Laurie Crigler, PHCC-National Association President (2017-2018)
The week before Memorial Day weekend, PHCC members descended upon Washington, D.C. to plead their case regarding several very important industry issues. It was appropriate that we were there that week because, not only did it gives us a chance to see our legislators and tell our story, but it gave us time to reflect about the importance of this holiday.
Seeing D.C. all decked out in red, white and blue and setting up for concerts, speeches and Rolling Thunder gave us pause to think about the true meaning of Memorial Day – to honor those who have fought for us to keep our freedoms so that we can, in fact, come to tell our legislators what is important in our industry and how what they do affects our daily lives. Washington, D.C. is beautiful in any season but somehow was even more beautiful with the flags waving and wreaths being laid at Arlington National Cemetery.
It was a traditional legislative event for PHCC. We arrived from all over the country, made appointments with our legislators and their staffs, told our stories and returned triumphantly (sometimes) to feel rejuvenated that those who create the laws by which we live heard us loud and clear.
Where Do We Go From Here?
We discussed the workforce shortage and the necessary funding to help with that effort. We discussed the Water Infrastructure Funding Initiative Act (WIFIA) and how important this act will be to help fund the needed water infrastructure repairs across the country and provide jobs. We discussed putting the trades back in the high schools to help the skills gap that exists. Most legislators, across the board, could hardly argue with these efforts.
To that point, I have declared the conference a success … but our job is not done. We now must connect with those same legislators back home, get to be their friends, and constantly remind them of how important these issues are to the health of our country.
The Next Generation Speaks Up
One of the most satisfying things that happened during that week was that several of our members thought it important enough to bring their children and grandchildren to this event. I was thrilled that we had as many as six young teens (ages 11-15) with us, traipsing all over on Capitol Hill and sharing with key decision-makers how those issues will affect them in the future … a very powerful message to our legislators. And those teens became part of our PHCC family … I hope for a very long time.
It was great to hear them relate their experiences up on Capitol Hill and gave even this old, jaded PHCC-er a new lease on life. It was exciting to hear them talk freely (as if they had been part of us for a very long time), and it was even more exciting to hear that at least one wanted to apply to be an intern in a congressional office and one wanted to apply to be a congressional page. How refreshing!
There is hope, folks … and these young people gave me back mine. It is comforting to know that there is another generation behind us that understands what our issues are and how to begin moving the log-jam that we have felt for so many years.
If you did not come to the 2018 PHCC Legislative Conference, please make an effort to come next year. We grow in numbers every year, and thus in strength … and now we have our youth on our side as well. Maybe one year, we will be pleading our case to one of those young persons, who grows up to be the legislator we go to visit. One can only hope!