The day's meetings had gone well and excitement filled the Reagan Rotunda with a palpable air only passion for a common cause can arouse. One of the highlights of any National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association (NLBMDA) Legislative Conference for me is the LuDPAC dinner, and this year's was a gem.
This was no ordinary day at a Leg Con; this was the first day of what special guest Senator Richard Burr (R-N.C.) warned would be a long, tough battle. He congratulated all of us for not lying in the weeds and whining about our plight. Instead, we had come to Washington to promote a bill that NLBMDA initially proposed, the Innocent Sellers Fairness Act (ISFA), that maintains the innocent should no longer be punished to the fullest extent of our law. Washington is filled with statues to those who decided to take the same stand. Though no one will erect statues if we win our battle, we will need no less passion to make it happen, and I felt that energy in the room that night.
We started on a high note Tuesday morning, April 4, as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Alphonso Jackson thanked us for being a huge cog in the housing engine that has been driving our economy for the past five years. He also thanked us for our efforts to rebuild communities of the Gulf Coast and our ongoing fight to keep housing affordable for all American families. After we were briefed on the issues, especially our primary one, ISFA, we witnessed NLBMDA chairman Kevin Hancock's fine job of simulating a meeting with his senator. First-timers had a chance to go to a Lobbying 101 workshop and learn the basics. My dozen or so visits to Washington have taught me to be natural, make my case personal to my business, and speak from the heart.
Tuesday afternoon and all day Wednesday, we went on our congressional visits, usually by state or federated association. The representatives our Ohio delegation saw were gracious as always. Representative Ted Strickland (D-Ohio) climbed on a table to set up a photo. Representative Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) told his aide, “These are our friends, and we take care of our friends.” Representative Mike Oxley (R-Ohio) lit up with a 1,000-watt smile as he recalled meeting Super Bowl champion Ben Roethlisberger. Congressmen and women may be among the most powerful people on Earth, but they are people first. The impact of a personal visit from those they represent is far greater than any phone, fax, or e-mail can ever be. Every rep or staffer we visited thanked us for taking our time to visit them.
I urge you to feel for yourself the energy that these events generate by attending next year's Legislative Conference, April 16–18, 2007, as well as by getting involved with legislative issues throughout the year. I guarantee you will learn much, dine well, make new friends, and laugh often. Come and speak from the heart about the challenges government presents to your business, and you will find a rapt audience in your congressional offices. You won't have a statue erected in your name, but the passion that you bring may just help change justice in this country forever. —Royal Morse is president of Dealers Lumber Co. in Columbus, Ohio, and is treasurer of NLBMDA.
NLBMDA The National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association represents more than 8,000 lumber and building material companies with more than 400,000 employees, 20 state and regional associations, and the industry's leading manufacturers and service providers. NLBMDA's member companies are the suppliers of builders in every state across the U.S. www.dealer.org.
The opinions expressed in NLBMDA Briefings are that of NLBMDA and may not represent that of PROSALES.