Due to the pandemic emergency afflicting the nation, the National Utility Contractors Association (NUCA) will hold this week for the first time its annual legislative day for Congress online using the Webex meetings platform.
During the virtual NUCA 2020 Washington Summit, scheduled for September 23, attendees are planning to meet with Members of Congress online and discuss several critical pieces of legislation of interest to the utility construction industry. These topics will include supporting the one-year extension of the FAST Act, due to expire at the end of September if not acted upon by legislators.
“Congress may be closed to public visits, but their virtual offices are open to our members. The American utility contractor has one urgent message for Congress during our virtual 2020 Washington Summit: Congress needs to pass its infrastructure legislation!” exclaimed Doug Carlson, NUCA CEO. “Both the House and Senate have in their hands several bills that can both provide relief to our industry’s struggling businesses and the nation’s fragile economy, and build their community’s much-needed water, wastewater, energy, and broadband infrastructure. Our members will let their lawmakers know that they have the power to revive America’s infrastructure-based economy, if Congress would just provide the resources.”
NUCA’s industry members will also discuss with lawmakers and their staffs the need to use infrastructure programs as an economic stimulus for the nation. Several bills pending in Congress, including the Senate’s S. 3591 bill, “America’s Water Infrastructure Act,” and the House’s H.R. 2, the “Moving Forward Act,” are providing opportunities for billions in spending on projects to upgrade or replace aging pipes and water/wastewater systems in hundreds of American communities.
Pipeline safety and its companion topic, damage prevention, will also be a key discussion point for attendees. Finally, the nation’s dramatically increased emphasis on conducting business and education online this year is highlighting the need for new broadband infrastructure projects to upgrade the speed and reach of our nation’s fiber-optic cable systems. NUCA’s members are the ones building these projects, but it is Congress’s turn to provide many of the resources needed to make these projects become reality and expand the many economic and employment benefits derived from these systems.
Despite the virtual setting of the 2020 Summit, planned attendance is exceeding last year’s on-site Capitol Hill attendees. Over 120 NUCA members are registered this year to participate in their Chapter’s virtual meetings to be held online with their lawmakers’ offices using Webex, Zoom, MS Teams, Google Meet, and other virtual meeting platforms.
The day will begin online at 9:00am with an hour-long opening session, introduced by NUCA Chairman Fred Chesney, and conclude with a comprehensive legislative briefing conducted by NUCA’s government affairs staff on the association’s top three topics pending in Congress.
The meetings themselves have been arranged by NUCA’s 30 Chapters with their state’s Federal lawmaker offices. Capitol Hill offices have been closed to the public since late March 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Many organizations have reached Capitol Hill this year via virtual visits, and our modern construction industry is no different. Technological advances in excavation and trenchless machines today accompany our workforce on their projects, as our members have told their lawmakers over the last few NUCA Summits. We continue to have a need for employees who are comfortable with cutting-edge tech as they improve their own communities with our industry’s projects,” said Carlson.
The association has held since 1976 an annual legislative day for its members to travel to Washington and personally discuss the concerns of the industry to their Congressional delegations. The NUCA 2020 Washington Summit “fly-in” legislative day was originally scheduled to be held in Washington on May 20, 2020 but was postponed in early April once the severity of the coronavirus pandemic was evident.