By Lucie Passus
Lobby Day Fall 2014
Despite a shakeup in the U.S. Congress following the November 2014 midterm elections, GMA Lobby Day Nov. 18–19, 2014, saw its largest and most active member participation yet. More than 30 attendees from GMA member companies and geosynthetics allies convened in Washington, D.C., to participate in 28 congressional meetings, 16 directly with U.S. representatives or senators.
Spanning nearly a decade of GMA’s ongoing government relations program in Washington, we have successfully built a group of supporters on Capitol Hill who recognize that geosynthetic materials provide innovative and cost-effective solutions for civil infrastructure, transportation, and environmental challenges. With GMA’s respectful, consistent, and nonpartisan approach to educating members of Congress, we witnessed a historic first—the phrase “geosynthetic materials” appearing for the first time ever in a federal law. The U.S. Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA) was passed by both houses and was signed by President Obama in June 2014. This law encourages the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to consider the use of geosynthetics materials in future projects and will provide our members with ample opportunities to grow their markets.
Members in attendance last November were: ACF West, Agru America, Crown Resources, Engineered Polymer Technologies, GSE, Hanes Geo Components, Huesker, Nilex, Polymer Group Inc., TenCate Geosynthetics America, Tensar, Thrace-Linq, TRI/Environmental, Watershed Geosynthetics, and Willacoochee Industrial Fabrics. GMA allies from the Erosion Control Technology Council and North American Geosynthetics Society also participated, as well as members of the IFAI Board of Directors, Bob Rosania of Ehmke Manufacturing and Amy Bircher of MMI Textiles.
GMA’s key messages on Capitol Hill during these post-election visits were simple. We thanked our congressional supporters for their help in passing WRRDA and for their ongoing support of our industry. We encouraged members of Congress to pass a long-term and well-funded transportation bill when the current extension ends in May 2015. We emphasized our continued role as a resource for members of Congress and their staffs, especially in providing solutions to address tight budget constraints amid an ever-growing need to repair aging civil infrastructure.
GMA’s next lobby day event will be in spring 2015.
State and local advocacy
GMA’s effort to expand the geosynthetics market for its members by focusing on key U.S. states is gaining traction after two years of investment from GMA Executive Council members. With their additional financial investments (on top of their regular membership dues) and by actively participating in meetings GMA has held in 11 states, GMA has been able to nurture new relationships with state DOTs and environmental agencies. More importantly, GMA is changing the perception these state agencies have had about our industry. The overwhelming feedback from these agencies—particularly the DOTs—was to commend GMA for acting as a representative trade association.
Additional work and investment, both time and money, are necessary to continue on this path to expand market opportunities for GMA members. GMA is currently assessing its dues structure and all GMA members will be asked to share in the growth of the geosynthetics market via this initiative through financial contributions and active participation in our ongoing visits.
In 2014, GMA visited agencies in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Washington.
GMA has been an active member of the organizing committee for IFAI’s biennial conference, Geosynthetics 2015 in Portland, Ore. Feb. 15–18. During the conference, GMA holds its general membership business meeting on Monday, Feb. 16 at 5 p.m. All GMA members and guests are invited to attend. GMA also hosts a series of focus group meetings: geotextile, geogrid, erosion control, and distributors.
For more information, contact Lucie Passus, division supervisor, firstname.lastname@example.org, 651 225 6956.