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January 2016 GMA News

News | February 1, 2016 | By:

Ed Silva, left (Engineered Polymer Technologies), and Melissa Hurley, right (ACF West), enjoyed a positive and productive visit with U.S. Sen.  Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) during GMA’s Fall Lobby Day last Oct. 29.
Ed Silva, left (Engineered Polymer Technologies), and Melissa Hurley, right (ACF West), enjoyed a positive and productive visit with U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) during GMA’s Fall Lobby Day last Oct. 29.

Fall 2015 Lobby Day

GMA hosted its 2015 fall lobby day in Washington, D.C., Oct. 29. This was an exciting time to be in our nation’s capitol as Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) was elected Speaker of the House and U.S. lawmakers were finally putting the finishing touches on a long-term transportation funding bill.

The evening of Oct. 28, GMA hosted a meeting and dinner that was highlighted by a presentation from Joung Lee, policy director at the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO).

On Oct. 29, 30 GMA members and geosynthetics advocates attended 24 meetings on Capitol Hill. The transition to Speaker Ryan and the time-sensitive nature of the highway funding bill gave GMA perfect opportunities to push for the inclusion of geosynthetics language in the highway bill. GMA seized this opportunity and was able to successfully convince key members of Congress to support our member’s innovative products.

The FAST Act is a big win for geosynthetics industry

To the extent practicable, the Secretary [of Transportation] shall encourage the use of durable, resilient, and sustainable materials and practices, including the use of geosynthetic materials and other innovative technologies, in carrying out the activities of the Federal Highway Administration.” (SEC. 1428, FAST ACT)

On Dec. 4, Congress and President Obama stopped “kicking the can” down the road and took a major step toward funding our country’s transportation infrastructure with the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act. Ryan, Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.), and bipartisan support passed a five-year transportation bill that allocated $305 billion to support federal highways and bridges.

The bill included an amendment introduced by Rep. Chuck Fleischmann (R-Tenn.) that encouraged the use of geosynthetic materials, and the amendment passed with a unanimous voice vote and was included in the final law signed by the president. With the will of Congress and the stroke of a pen, the use of geosynthetic materials was singled out as a leading innovative material that the Federal Highway Administration “shall” consider. The inclusion of this language was no small feat and it demonstrated GMA’s commitment to educating government officials about the long-lasting, environmentally friendly, and structural attributes of our industry’s products, applications, and services.

We now have a law on the books that encourages the use of geosynthetics. This is a big win for GMA and its supporters, and a key indicator that the geosynthetics industry has never been stronger.

GMA Executive Council meets in Atlanta

On Dec. 17, GMA’s governing body—its 13-member Executive Council—conducted an all-day meeting in Atlanta to reaffirm its priorities and direction heading into 2016. This meeting was attended by 22 representatives of EC member companies. The meeting was an opportunity for GMA leaders to celebrate successes, debate industry issues, and set the direction of our government relations work. Among the key points of discussion were: GMA’s ongoing government relations programs, AASHTO/NTPEP specifications, geosynthetics education, and interlayer connections with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and state departments of transportation from North Carolina and Florida.

Agru America joins GMA’s Executive Council

Georgetown, S.C.-based Agru America Inc. became the 13th member of GMA’s Executive Council in November 2015. Chris Eichelberger, who was named Agru’s vice president–technical marketing in 2015, will be the company’s primary liaison with the EC.

Thank you Rudy Barry!

Rudy Barry has been a part of GMA’s government relations team from Whitmer & Worrall in Washington, D.C., for almost a decade and has helped GMA become one of the most respected trade associations with representation on Capitol Hill. In December, Rudy informed EC Chairman Keith Gardner and me that he would be leaving the firm to pursue a new career in the private sector. GMA would like to thank Rudy for his dedication to the geosynthetics industry and his commitment to our members. Rudy’s role as an advocate for the goals of GMA resulted in hundreds of high level meetings for our members and the passage of major legislation such as the Water Resources Reform & Development Act (WRRDA 2014) and the FAST Act 2015, both of which included “geosynthetics language” that will help grow our industry for years to come.

Many thanks Rudy!

GeoAmericas meetings

GMA will be hosting focus group and general membership meetings at the GeoAmericas conference in Miami in April. The meetings will be an opportunity for our members, and prospective members, to learn about GMA activities and how they can get involved.

Please plan to attend:

  • Geogrid Focus Group—
    7:15–8:15 a.m., Monday, April 11
  • Geotextile Focus Group—
    90-minute lunch, Monday April 11
  • Erosion Control/Distributor Group—7:15–8:15 a.m., Tuesday, April 12
  • GMA General Membership—
    90-minute lunch, Tuesday, April 12

Spring Lobby Day

GMA’s 2016 Spring Lobby Day will be held April 26–27 in Washington, D.C. This will include our next round of congressional visits on Capitol Hill and will be a great time for GMA members to thank U.S. senators, representatives, and their staff members for work and support on the FAST Act and also to discuss the 2016 Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) and FAA funding bills. As usual, a dinner and EC meeting will be held the evening of the 26th, with Capitol Hill visits on the 27th.

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