By Mark McCallum
As NASBP celebrates its 75th Anniversary, its Government Relations team remains focused on effecting positive change for the NASBP membership. Adapting to a changing political environment has always required a strategic government relations agenda—and NASBP continues to rise to the call.
“There is a great deal of energy on Capitol Hill right now in terms of infrastructure development,” said Lawrence LeClair, Director of Government Relations at NASBP, who frequents congressional offices and U.S. House and Senate committee hearings.
Legislation enabling investments in U.S. infrastructure has gained bipartisan support; the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works and the U.S. House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure are exploring solutions to rebuild the nation’s roads, bridges, and waterways. As the U.S. Congress introduces multiple infrastructure bills, NASBP staff and the NASBP membership have engaged policymakers in an effort to communicate the value of surety bonding requirements.
Through more than a dozen meetings with members of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, “NASBP is working to ensure that, once an infrastructure bill is introduced, members serving on the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure are reminded of the importance of bonds and the protection that bonds offer suppliers, laborers, and federal taxpayers,” LeClair said.
The Construction Industry Procurement Coalition
NASBP also is part of the Construction Industry Procurement Coalition, which includes 15 construction-related trade groups tasked with visiting the House Small Business Committee and other relevant congressional committees and working on procurement reforms.
Since early this year, the Coalition has been engaging both Replications and Democrats on Capitol Hill to establish minimum standards for the issuance of written change orders—a topic that LeClair recently discussed with these U.S House of Representatives: Steve King (R-IA 4th), Yvette D. Clarke (D-NY 9th), and Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO 3rd).
The Coalition also is working to exempt the federal Miller Act from bonding threshold increases every five years based on indexing for inflation. Possible adjustments slated for 2020 may lead to a higher number of contracts in which surety bond protection is not provided to small businesses and U.S. taxpayers.
“We’re engaging in conversations, talking about the consequences of leaving small businesses unprotected with no payment bonds in place,” LeClair said.
NASBP also has met with freshman class members of Congress—including U.S. Representatives Drew Ferguson (R-GA 3rd) and Frances Rooney (R-FL 19th, who has a background in construction)—to educate them about NASBP and the value of surety bonding.
Similar topics will be addressed during the June 6-7 NASBP Legislative Fly-in. On June 7, NASBP will host a round-table infrastructure discussion on Capitol Hill that will include four members of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. The Fly-in is open to all of the NASBP membership. To register and for more information about the legislators participating in NASBP Fly-in, visit nasbp.org.
“This infrastructure roundtable is something we’ve never done before,” LeClair said, “It’s important to hear directly from House Transportation Committee members to find out what they expect to happen,” LeClair said.
The NASBP SuretyPAC
Also advancing the surety industry is NASBP’s federally registered, nonpartisan SuretyPAC—the only political action committee devoted to surety interests. Since 1995, SuretyPAC has enabled NASBP to meet with and support federal candidates who value surety bonding.
“SuretyPAC gives us access to the people who really need to know what we do and why it is so important,” said Chris Leach, Chair of the NASBP SuretyPAC. “We have been effective in pushing legislative support for bills that make a real difference to our industry.”
In the event that private funding will contribute to infrastructure development in the U.S., as in the case of public-private partnerships (P3s), SuretyPAC will facilitate opportunities to educate those on the Hill about the importance of securing taxpayer money through surety bonding, Leach said.
“SuretyPAC is the tool that allows NASBP to access those in leadership positions and keep construction and surety issues at the forefront,” Leach said.
For more information about NASBP SuretyPAC, visit nasbp.org. The Federal Election Commission regulations require that NASBP must receive written authorization from member firms before soliciting contributions, so please fill out the NASBP SuretyPAC Prior Approval Form and mail it to NASBP SuretyPAC at 1140 19th Street, NW, Suite 800, Washington, DC 20036.