Smart politics

18 April 2008

At a time when a spate of news concerning influence peddling has cast a shadow over lobbyists, SC&RA continues to advance our agendas through honest, logical and fair-minded government relations efforts.

We have neither hidden agendas nor a political action committee that raises money and contributes to the campaigns of political candidates. While we have some legislative interaction with congressional representatives, most of our government affairs initiatives aim to shape the rulemaking efforts of regulatory bodies such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the Department of Transportation (DOT), and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

We contribute the input these agencies need to take action in the interest of the industry, its customers and the public. By sharing our insights and expertise, we help to minimize well-intentioned, yet misguided efforts by the government.

SC&RA was actively involved in the 23-member Crane and Derrick Negotiated Rulemaking Committee (C-DAC). This group met nearly every month for a year before achieving consensus in July 2004 on the first revision of the OSHA Standard covering crane operations in the United States since 1971.

Since that action, SC&RA has supported the C-DAC recommendations by submitting letters and presenting public comment before OSHA's Advisory Committee on Construction Safety and Health. This fall, six SC&RA members participated on a Small Business Regulatory Fairness Act Panel convened by the Small Business Administration's Office of Advocacy to consider how to make the regulation less costly and burdensome to small business. SC&RA intends to remain involved until completion of the promulgation process.

On the transportation side, SC&RA has long been a leader in efforts to achieve permit uniformity as a way of enabling more efficient movement of over-dimensional cargo. Next March, we will celebrate the 20th anniversary of our Specialized Transportation Symposium, which continues its original mission of facilitating a dialog concerning permit uniformity and other important matters between our members and state, regional and federal transportation officials.

Earlier this year we helped convince California to increase weight allowances on tridem axles for routine permit issuance. This was a major victory because discrepancies in weight allowances previously forced motor carriers to change equipment at the state border, making cargo delivery more time-consuming and costly.

Often SC&RA becomes an even more powerful advocate for members by joining broad industry coalitions. These alliances often are led by highly respected and very well-funded organizations such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the American Trucking Associations and the Association of Equipment Manufacturers.

These alliances deliver results. The Americans for Transportation Mobility coalition, which included over 300 organizations across the nation, presented a strong, unified voice that Congress heard clearly when deciding to approve a $286.45 billion highway and public transportation bill. And the Mobile Machinery Coalition helped convince Congress to retain the excise tax exemption for mobile cranes and other mobile machinery.

While continuing to participate in such coalitions, SC&RA, on an ongoing basis, explores ways to let its own distinct voice be heard. Today, in addition to broad industry and coalition filings, there is a premium on filing individual and separate comments on rulemakings. We want to keep our members aware of these rulemakings so they contact SC&RA with their facts and opinions on how regulatory and legislative proposals will affect their operations.

The association's close relationship with key government contacts results in ready access to vital information. We will continue to pass along such information and explain its significance to members through our offi cial magazines, newsletters and meetings. At the same time, we will listen to our members and encourage proactive and open dialog that helps shape our regulatory direction.

We are confident these efforts give our members a competitive advantage over nonmember companies and allow SC&RA to speak with a more unified voice.

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