NUCA Political Insiders Report October 15, 2019
CWC Supports Water Legislation Prior to House Mark Up: NUCA is in the process of re-energizing the Clean Water Council (CWC), a diverse coalition of construction contractors, manufacturers, distributors, service providers, and labor unions working to increase financing for badly-needed improvements to America’s water and wastewater infrastructure. Our environmental infrastructure provides Americans with safe drinking water, protects our nation’s waterways, beaches, and other recreational opportunities, and helps provide the resources needed to keep our economy moving. Taken together, well-functioning water infrastructure is indispensable to the health of our country.
Rapidly aging wastewater systems and the lack of a sustainable revenue source, along with rising costs of compliance with environmental standards, present local communities with ever-increasing challenges in providing infrastructure improvements. At the same time, the federal government has contributed a decreasing share of the total funding provided for water and wastewater infrastructure. The CWC was established decades ago to address this growing problem.
Late last month, the House Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) Committee held a hearing entitled “The Administration’s Priorities and Policy Initiatives Under the Clean Water Act (CWA)”, where the committee discussed a range of issues related to the statute. Topics included the recent rollback by the Trump Administration of the contentious, Obama-era “Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS)” regulation, water contamination, and the need to address wastewater infrastructure needs.
In what he referred to as an “infrastructure crisis,” T&I Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) indicated that the “EPA estimates that some $270 billion in infrastructure investment is needed over the next 20 years – and that is just to get our country’s current wastewater infrastructure into good shape.” Hundreds of billions more are estimated to address the nation’s drinking water infrastructure needs.
DeFazio went on to point out that “[d]espite these demonstrated needs, the Trump administration proposed massive cuts to the primary water infrastructure investment program – the Clean Water State Revolving Fund program (CW SRF) – asking for barely $1 billion for fiscal year 2020. That is a ridiculously low amount given the need.” Soon after this hearing, NUCA visited with top staff of the House T&I Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment, who reported that legislation to authorize $15 billion for the CW SRF would soon be considered.
The CWC is reacting quickly by sending a letter of support for the measure. The CWC will soon discuss this bill and other water infrastructure issues with T&I committee staff about ways the coalition can support this bill and others that would increase public funding and other financing options for this critical infrastructure.
EEIA Supports New CWA Rules Proposed by EPA: As previously reported, NUCA is working as a member of the Energy Equipment and Infrastructure Alliance (EEIA) effort intended to clarify authority provided to states under CWA Section 401 (CWA 401), which allows states to determine whether any discharges from energy projects are in compliance with state water quality standards. Problems have surfaced in several states, where CWA 401 has become a way to delay or otherwise obstruct the development of natural gas and oil pipeline projects.
On October 8th, EEIA sent a letter (https://www.nuca.com/files/EPA-401-Sign-on-Letter-FINAL.pdf) to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) expressing support for the agency’s recent proposal to provide clarity, consistency and regulatory certainty in the process for state and tribal execution of their CWA 401 authority. The proposed rule would establish standards for timely reviews of applications, ensure the focus of their review is on areas intended by the CWA, and set clear and consistent standards for implementation. EEIA maintains this clarification would better ensure effective protection of our water resources.
“In the absence of definitive boundaries, some states have taken advantage of ambiguity in Section 401 to deny certification on grounds outside the Section’s purposes and intent,” according to the EEIA letter. “This has resulted in delay or cancellation of vitally needed energy infrastructure projects that would otherwise have provided consumers and our environment the tremendous benefits of increased access to affordable clean energy.”
Obstruction of certification of energy infrastructure projects on grounds other than intended by the CWA has resulted in “large-scale loss of work, stranded investments in equipment and materials, and inability of our businesses and workforce to plan for efficient deployment and utilization of both human and capital assets,” according to EEIA. Representing part of the “supply chain” of the energy production and transportation industry, NUCA was pleased to sign onto this letter.
NUCA 2020 Washington Summit: If you are going to our 2020 Convention & Exhibit in Tucson, Arizona in late February, please plan on attending our Advocacy educational session where the latest news from Washington affecting your business will be discussed. More details about this Convention advocacy session will be released by the end of the year.
And for those who want to actively participate in the NUCA government affairs program next year, plan on traveling to the Nation’s Capital for NUCA’s 2020 Washington Summit, now scheduled for May 19-21, 2020. Save the date, and expect more details about our annual advocacy fly-in program in the months ahead. 2020 is an election year for Congress and the Presidency, so there will be much to discuss about the future of infrastructure legislation and environmental regulations.
Remember to pass this issue of Political Insider along to others at your company who would be interested in knowing about the association’s work in Washington, D.C. to improve your business’s environment.
DC Water CEO David L. Gadis today encouraged every District resident to check if the pipe connecting their home to the city water supply is lead, and if it is made of lead to learn more about new opportunities for replacing it with safer copper pipe.
The push to replace lead service lines comes as historic legislation approved by the Mayor and D.C. Council last year goes into effect beginning today. It provides free or discounted plumbing services to District residents who replace lead pipes and should dramatically increase the pace of lead service replacements.
Every property owner regardless of income can now replace their lead pipes for free when DC Water conducts water main replacements or emergency repairs. Residents do not need to apply for this discount, and will be contacted by DC Water in advance of these projects.
Separately, generous assistance is now available for more than ten thousand customers who have lead pipes on private property, but non-lead pipes in public space. In these cases, every property owner can replace their lead pipes at a 50% discount, and some will qualify for 80% or 100% discounts depending on household size and income. Eligibility for these discounts is determined by the DC Department of Energy and Environment and residents can apply for the program at doee.dc.gov.
“No other bill in the last generation has provided such an opportunity to District residents,” said Mr. Gadis. “Everyone who owns a home in the District should know if they have lead pipes, and work with us to get the lead out.
Customers can view a list of known qualifying properties here, or reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org and 202-787-4044, then visit doee.dc.gov/service/leadlinereplacement or call 311 to apply for discounted replacements.
Under current law, DC Water is permitted to replace the portion of the lead water service line that lays buried within public space but not the portion that is on private property – the pipe that runs from the property line to the building. Water mains in DC Water’s distribution system are not made of lead. However there remain roughly 70 miles of lead service lines spread across the District, mostly in older neighborhoods. Larger apartment buildings and condo buildings typically do not have lead service lines due to the larger size of pipe required to supply water.
Gadis noted that he wants all lead service lines in the city replaced within the next 10 years: “It’s ambitious but it’s achievable if we roll up our sleeves and work together,” Mr. Gadis said.
In addition to establishing assistance programs to help residents remove lead pipes, the new law requires landlords and home sellers to disclose the existence of lead pipes on residential properties, and the results of any past lead testing.
The law originated with Ward 1 Councilmember Brianne Nadeau, who last year introduced legislation to help DC Water customers afford the cost of their lead service replacements. The Bill was then revised by Council Transportation & Environment Committee Chairperson Mary Cheh of Ward 3 and approved unanimously.
More information about the issue of lead, tips to reduce risk of lead exposure, and information about the law can be found at dcwater.com/lead.
LB Water Team a Top Fundraiser for Ta-Ta Trot
Employees from Selinsgrove-headquartered company in the top three of most money raised
SELINSGROVE, Pa. – The fundraising efforts of a group of employees from Selinsgrove-based LB Water Service Inc., an industry leader in supplying waterworks infrastructure solutions to cities, counties, municipalities and businesses throughout the mid-Atlantic region, were among the top of participating groups in the 10th Annual Ta-Ta Trot in Selinsgrove.
Through the contributions of its passionate employees, the company raised a total of $405 for this year’s event. LB Water also served as one of the event’s Silver sponsors.
The annual event, which is held in July, included an opening ceremony, a 5K trot and a prize ceremony. In total, trotters raised more than $4,500, which was donated to Evangelical Community Hospital’s Thyra M. Humphreys Center for Breast Health, Geisinger Health System’s Marie Lamey Fund, PA Breast Cancer Coalition or the Penn State Cancer Institute.
“I’m so honored to work for a company that understands the importance of breast cancer awareness,” said Jolene Dreese, an LB Water employee and one of the company’s Ta-Ta Trotters. “Breast cancer is taking our loved ones from us at an alarming rate, so to play even a small role in raising money for awareness means a lot to me.”
Dreese received a breast cancer diagnosis at the age of 44 in 2001 and was able to overcome the disease in part because of early detection. Unfortunately, not everyone is as lucky.
A close friend of Dreese’s lost her battle to breast cancer at the age of 42, leaving behind a 5-year-old child—a reminder that cancer does not discriminate by age.
Since its inaugural event in 2009, the Selinsgrove Ta-Ta Trot has raised more than $400,000 for breast cancer awareness, an amount Dreese hopes will continue to grow in the coming years.
A member of LB Water’s Finance department, Dreese said her organizational goal for the 2020 Ta-Ta Trot is to raise a total of $2,020 and to add to the number of company employees who participate.
“I thank God for getting me through my bout with breast cancer and allowing my case to be the type that can be fought and conquered,” she added. “That’s not always the case, but if we keep doing events around the country like the Ta-Ta Trot right here in Selinsgrove, I believe we will eventually find a cure.”
“Many of us have been impacted by breast cancer in some way,” said Shawn Pulford, President and CEO, LB Water. “As an organization that takes pride in calling Selinsgrove home, we think it’s important to continue being active within our community and to identify causes that our employees are passionate about. I couldn’t be prouder of our Ta-Ta Trotters.”
About LB Water
LB Water is a solutions-based provider of waterworks-infrastructure products to cities, counties, municipalities, private water and sewer authorities, and contractors throughout the Mid-Atlantic region. Its products include water-metering technologies, water infrastructure, sanitary and storm sewer systems, specialty products, and environmental solutions. It is a 100-percent, employee-owned organization. Founded in 1970 by Lehman B. Mengel, the company employs 200+ people at eight locations in Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia. Visit www.lbh2o.com to learn more.
D.C. Council hears comments on marijuana allowance for workers
Bills weigh medical pot discrimination, job seeker testing
A representative for building contractors stressed Wednesday the importance of drug testing in her industry during a D.C. Council hearing on legislation that would bar local businesses from testing job applicants who use medical marijuana.
“We absolutely cannot risk a person working who might be impaired if they are working on our natural gas lines, if they are working on clean drinking water,” Debora Harvey, executive director of the National Utility Contractors Association D.C. chapter, told the Labor and Workforce Development Committee.
The committee took comments from marijuana policy advocates, Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners and business officials in a public hearing on two pieces of legislation dealing with how employers treat workers who use medical and recreational marijuana.
“What is permissible when it comes to marijuana use in our city is not straightforward,” council member Elissa Silverman, at-large independent and committee chair, said at the start of the hearing. “It is easy to be confused by what is allowable and what isn’t. It’s especially confusing for employers and employees.”
Council member David Grosso, at-large independent, has introduced a bill that would prohibit the city government from discriminating in hiring medical marijuana users. The Medical Marijuana Program Patient Employment Protection Amendment Act of 2019 includes jobs considered safety sensitive, unlike a similar emergency bill the council voted on earlier this year.
Council member Trayon White, Ward 8 Democrat, has introduced the Prohibition of Marijuana Testing Act of 2019, which would prohibit businesses from using marijuana testing as a condition of employment. It does not include safety sensitive positions, such as police officers, persons in charge of care of children or jobs that require commercial driver’s license.
“Currently our job-seeking residents are exercising their legal rights to use marijuana, but they are punished by not being able to find employment,” Mr. White said.
D.C. measures legalizing medical marijuana went into effect in 2011 and recreational marijuana in 2015. The drug is still outlawed by the federal government.
“Our thinking on marijuana from a criminal justice perspective has evolved, but our thinking on marijuana from an employment perspective is stuck in the last century,” Mr. Grosso said, noting that employment drug policies often affect blacks and working-class people but the leaders of businesses and organizations.
Marijuana policy advocates said safety sensitive positions should be included in the prohibition against drug testing. They noted that marijuana testing does not indicate the level of cognitive impairment and that medical marijuana users often develop a tolerance to the side effects of THC, the psychoactive ingredient in pot.
“Drug testing doesn’t meet any of the goals folks are drug testing for in the first place,” said Queen Adesuyi, a policy coordinator at the Drug Policy Alliance’s Office of National Affairs.
But Jim Greer, chairman of the National Drug and Alcohol Screen Association, said that workplaces have a right to declare themselves “drug free” and that insurance companies require marijuana testing for benefits such as worker’s compensation and offer insurance benefits for the drug-free designation.
“Why must employers, after publicly advertising through signage, disclaimers on employment applications and other educational programs, be required by the government to accept conduct that violates the employers ability to manage and control their business?” Mr. Greer said.
Kings Floyd is chair of the D.C. chapter of ADAPT, a national group of disability rights activists. She said that medical marijuana has helped her with her own mental and physical disabilities.
“We are not placing the mindful consumption with people with disabilities, specifically who have managed their medication time and time again, and it prevents us from actively applying to jobs within the District of Columbia for fear of retaliation with both disability stigmas and medical marijuana stigmas,” Ms. Floyd said.
The committee is accepting comment on both bills through Oct. 9
Mark you calendars to join DDOT and OCP for a presentation and overview of the upcoming H ST Bridge NE Replacement Project.
RSVP by September 30, 2019 at https://hstreetbridgeproject.com/industry-summit
For more information about the project: hstreetbridgeproject.com
Rockville, Maryland, August 29, 2019 – Insurance Associates/MMA and the Selective Insurance Group Foundation partnered to support the efforts of Patriot Point through a $1,000 grant. Patriot Point was selected by Insurance Associates/MMA for the grant as part of the Selective ‘President’s Club Matching Gift’ initiative, which allows premier agents the opportunity to make an impact in the communities where they live and work by providing a donation with matching gift from the Foundation.
The President’s Club Matching Gift program is run by the Selective Insurance Group Foundation which is a philanthropic affiliate of Selective Insurance Group, Inc. (Nasdaq: SIGI). Together with President’s Club agencies, such as Insurance Associates/MMA, the Foundation has supported thousands of community-based and national nonprofits in regions across the country since the initiative began in 2002.
“The work that Patriot Point does to help our nation’s warriors so they can reconnect with their families, decompress after deployment, and take time to rejuvenate is vital to our community. Our service members face challenges abroad while working to maintain our safety and security so this is a way for us to give back to them” said Stephen A. Spencer, President, Insurance Associates/MMA.
The grant represents a $500 donation from Insurance Associates/MMA, matched by a $500 gift from The Selective Insurance Group Foundation. The grant will help Patriot Point’s efforts to provide a relaxing and safe environment for our nation’s wounded, ill, and injured service members to enjoy outdoor recreation activities with their families.
“Our network of President’s Club agents has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to supporting their local communities in ways that reach far beyond their insurance enterprises,” said Chuck Musilli, Executive Vice President, Chief Human Resources Officer, Distribution Strategies, Selective. “Together with Insurance Associates/MMA, we are proud to award a grant to Patriot Point to help further its mission in supporting our nation’s warriors.”
Now in its eighteenth year, the Selective President’s Club Matching Gift program has more than doubled in size and scale. It has grown from supporting organizations in 11 states in 2002 to reaching charities in 23 states and the District of Columbia in 2018. With the help of 94 of Selective’s top agencies, the program granted more than $45,000 to more than 100 charities in 2018. The initiative aims to support community-based organizations with a variety of missions such as civic organizations, conservation and environmental agencies, educational entities, food banks and shelters, hospitals and hospice centers, military support services and others.
About Insurance Associates, a Marsh & McLennan Agency LLC Company
Marsh & McLennan Agency LLC (MMA) is a subsidiary of Marsh & McLennan Company. MMA was established in 2008 to build out a national middle market platform. MMA offers surety, business insurance, personal lines, and employee benefits to businesses and individuals across North America. MMA delivers custom personalization from local consultants while providing access to the worldwide resources of Marsh. MMA is currently one of the largest insurance brokers in the United States. More information is available at MarshMMA.com.
Marsh is the world’s leading insurance broker and risk adviser. With over 35,000 colleagues operating in more than 130 countries, Marsh serves commercial and individual clients with data driven risk solutions and advisory services. Marsh is a wholly owned subsidiary of Marsh & McLennan Companies (NYSE: MMC), the leading global professional services firm in the areas of risk, strategy and people. With annual revenue over US$15 billion and 75,000 colleagues worldwide, MMC helps clients navigate an increasingly dynamic and complex environment through four market-leading firms: Marsh, Guy Carpenter, Mercer, and Oliver Wyman. Follow Marsh on Twitter @MarshGlobal; LinkedIn; Facebook; and YouTube, or subscribe to BRINK.
Selective Insurance Group, Inc. is a holding company for ten property and casualty insurance companies rated “A” (Excellent) by A.M. Best. Through independent agents, the insurance companies offer standard and specialty insurance for commercial and personal risks, and flood insurance underwritten by the National Flood Insurance Program. Selective maintains a website at www.Selective.com.
DC Water will be advertising several Small Diameter Watermain (SDWM) Projects over the coming months. These projects will be using DC Water’s recently published standard specifications (available for download at https://www.dcwater.com/design-and-construction-standards). Four projects planned for advertisement from late summer through fall will be between one and three miles each. Three projects planned for advertisement in early Spring will be between two and three miles each. The projects will include pipelines located in multiple neighborhoods around the District.
Please be on the lookout for advertisements in the Washington Post, Washington Afro American, and Washington Hispanic – as well as on the DC Water website and via emails from DC Water’s vendor portal.