By Lucie Passus
A major win for the geosynthetics industry, GMA
It is official: For the first time in U.S. history, the phrase ‘geosynthetic materials’ appears in federal law in the newly enacted Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA) signed by President Obama on June 10, 2014.
This is exciting and important for the geosynthetics community as this new law creates an estimated $29 billion in projects funded by WRRDA and requires the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to evaluate geosynthetic materials as a component of their projects and activities. Though the exact benefits and trickle-down effect of this new legal requirement are yet to be defined, it is certain that there will be long-term impacts that will positively benefit the geosynthetics industry.
The importance of government relations
Passing into law a piece of federal legislation of this magnitude is not an easy feat. It involved many individuals, GMA-member companies, and other geosynthetics industry allies. GMA members (in particular the Executive Council members), GMA staff, Whitmer & Worrall (GMA’s lobbying firm), and members of Congress and their staffers were all important influencers who helped propel WRRDA to the finish line.
Furthermore, it required long-range visioning and careful planning on the part of GMA’s Executive Council and general membership to strongly position the geosynthetics industry in the halls of Congress alongside other major industry players such as asphalt and concrete. With financial investment, education efforts, and biannual lobby days in Washington, D.C., GMA’s course to change how geosynthetics is perceived and understood by public officials has been successful.
Eight years ago in 2006, and as per its strategic plan developed in 2005, GMA set off on a path to expand and grow the geosynthetic market by making its presence known in Washington, D.C. After acknowledging that there was a lack of basic understanding of geosynthetic materials, their applications and benefits, GMA hired a lobbying firm in D.C. and hosted its first lobby day event. This initial foray marked the first of several respectful and intentional informational sessions to educate members of Congress and their staffers about geosynthetic materials and their benefits. Over time, the education-focused lobby day events evolved to making specific requests from Congress and offering to be an industry resource. Though GMA requests were not always successful on the first attempt, either due to more important legislative issues or simply an impasse in Congress, GMA never veered away from its mission to expand and grow the market for its members and the geosynthetics industry at-large.
What is now clear from a GMA management perspective is that the successful passage of WRDDA into law is a direct result of GMA’s dedication to its government relations program.
Supporting the geosynthetics industry
Government relations is an ongoing effort that requires time, dedication, education, and active participation. Most of all, it requires funding to retain an excellent lobbying firm in D.C. to help promote geosynthetics and influence pertinent legislation impacting the geosynthetics industry. WRRDA is a success, but there is additional work ahead for GMA and its allies. Already, work has started on the 2015 Transportation–Housing & Urban Development (HUD) Appropriations bill so that similar geosynthetics language is incorporated into it.
Supporting GMA’s government relations program means supporting the geosynthetics industry, so consider contributing financially to this valuable program. Act today and contact Lucie Passus at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 651 225 6956.
GMA Fall Lobby Day
GMA will host its fall biannual lobby day event in Washington, D.C. on Nov. 18–19, 2014. Part of GMA’s legislative agenda this fall will be to extend GMA’s appreciation to its Congressional supporters for the passage of WRRDA and to request for the inclusion of geosynthetics language in the 2015 Transportation–HUD Appropriations bill. GMA members and allies are encouraged to attend the 2014 fall lobby day event. Registration is available at www.gmanow.com.
New GMA logo
Through a strategic branding effort to align GMA more closely to its parent company, the Industrial Fabrics Association International (IFAI), its official magazine, Geosynthetics, and its biennial conference, the GMA logo now features a new design. Requests for the new GMA logo can be made directly to Wendy Kaarto: email@example.com, 651 225 6954.