Summit Review: Day 1
ACA’s Coatings Industry Policy Summit brought together members of industry, Congress, and the Administration to discuss policy matters and issues important to the paint and coatings industry. The summit gave members of industry a chance to visit Capitol Hill and meet with members of Congress to educate them on the practical experience of manufacturing coatings products, and the real value it brings to the American and global economies.
The summit opened with a lunch, during which Steve Bell, senior advisor at the Bipartisan Policy Center, addressed the prospects and process for tax reform. Bell — who has more than 30 years’ experience in economic policy, including several years as staff director for the Senate Budget Committee — set out the obstacles. Bell underscored that today’s level of political rancor hampers the process for tax reform; but explained that one of the biggest hurdles for passing tax reform this year is the short time left for consideration of a FY 2018 budget. House and Senate versions of the budget include reconciliation instructions that would pave the way for the Senate to consider a tax overhaul with a simple majority vote — the linchpin for advancing a Republican plan to cut taxes $1.5 trillion over 10 years without Democratic votes. Looming large over this is the fast-approaching Dec. 8 deadline, when the U.S. government debt limit expires; that is also the last day the government is funded, and a hard deadline for passing either another Continuing Resolution (CR) or an Omnibus Appropriations package to avoid a government shutdown.
As for tax reform, Bell’s perspective is that reform must include a rate of 20 percent for businesses, and cannot be anything but a cut for the “middle income” bracket. He also noted the difficulty presented by the House mandate that a tax plan be “deficit neutral,” while the Senate plans could add $1.5 trillion to the deficit. Wall Street, he said “is pretty skeptical” there will be a tax bill in 2017; but expect one in Q1 2018.
The Role of Media in Government
This session featured Carl Cannon, Washington bureau chief of RealClearPolitics and executive editor of RealClear Media Group. Cannon drew on anecdotal stories from his 30+ year career in journalism to illustrate how technology has changed the media landscape. In a short-course on the history of U.S. journalism, Cannon told attendees that the United States was founded on partisan reporting; but that shifted with the modern newspapers in the Jacksonian Era of the 1830s, when the notion of ‘objectivity’ took hold. Cannon attributes changes in technology — from the telegraph back then — to radio and television in modern times — to making news more immediate. He noted that reporting became more opinionated as “we got more monolithic in our attitudes.”
Reinforcing those staunch liberal and conservative viewpoints in media is what he called “disruptive technology.” The Internet and cell phones create powerful networks for information sharing that connect all human intelligence. These social media platforms and mainstream news outlets also allow people to communicate directly with others who already agree with them.
Cannon cited polls that show trust in Congress, the Administration, and the press is at historic lows; but urged a return to those old journalistic pillars of fact-based reporting, and trying to be objective. “Being objective is hard,” Cannon admitted. “But what other human quality do we not try at because it’s hard?”
Panel on Budget, Appropriations, and Tax Reform
Steve Bell moderated the day’s closing panel on budget and appropriations, featuring Bruce Evans, staff director for the Senate Committee on Appropriations and Rick May, staff director for the House Committee on Budget. This discussion focused on the challenges to passing the FY 2018 budget and appropriations bills, and offered perspective on how the process to deal with these issues could play out on Capitol Hill. The attendees asked questions of the panelists on specific points of interest.
Summit Review: Day 2
Day two of the summit began with a group photo of attendees and ACA staff on the steps of the Capitol, followed by a Congressional breakfast featuring Rep. Mike Doyle (D-PA-14).
Energy and Commerce in the Coatings Industry
Andy Doyle, ACA president and CEO, introduced Rep. Doyle, who is serving his 12th term in the U.S. House of Representatives and is a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. In his remarks, Rep. Doyle, stressed the need for a bipartisan approach to address legislative efforts. Illustrating that this approach is possible, Rep. Doyle related that he and Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX-6) sponsored a bipartisan bill, the Wounded Officers Recovery Act (H.R. 3298), that was passed in just three days. The bill, which came about after the two U.S. Capitol Police were injured in the gun attack at the Republican Baseball team practice where Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA-1) was also injured, amended the U.S. Capitol Police Memorial Fund so that any U.S. Capitol Police employee who is seriously injured in the line of duty will be eligible for assistance from the fund. Previously, the federal law only allowed the fund to disburse money to families of officers killed in the line of duty. Rep. Doyle also credited bipartisanship as the reason for success in passing TSCA reform, the 21st Century Cures Act, and Pipeline Reauthorization.
Rep. Doyle then gave an overview of his work on the Energy and Commerce (E&C) Committee and addressed the outlook for reauthorizing the Department of Energy (DOE). He also spoke specifically about E&C’s EPA oversight jurisdiction and his predictions regarding the proposed cuts to the EPA’s budget
Congressional Office Visits
Following the breakfast, ACA members and staff divided into teams to visit key congressional offices and discuss topics of concern with legislative staff. “We took this opportunity to bring the coatings industry directly to the Capitol Hill offices where their facilities are located so that our members could discuss the issues that impact their daily operations with members of Congress and their staff,” stated Heidi McAuliffe,” ACA, vice president, Government Affairs. The teams met with member offices from Ohio, Pennsylvania, California, Oregon, Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan, Connecticut and North Carolina.
In all the meetings, the teams highlighted the list of ACA legislative priorities. Several meetings also highlighted issues of importance to a particular office. For example, in one Senate office, “ACA staff and members talked about the need for a federal product labeling standard, providing clear guidance based on scientific principles for ingredient disclosure and a statement of risk on labels,” said Riaz Zaman, ACA, counsel. “The federal law would pre-empt the patchwork of state regulation that’s developing.” This dialogue piggybacked on ACA’s work with the Coalition on Product Labeling Integrity. “The coalition drafted proposed amendments to the Fair Packaging and Labelling Act and submitted letters to several senators, advocating for amendments to the act,” Zaman added.
EPA regulations were also among topics of discussion. A member company commented that “EPA must evaluate regulations and reduce administrative burdens where possible, without sacrificing environmental protection.” Another company stated that it has “always been environmentally conscious; however, increased regulations has only increased costs without enhancing their already high-level of environmental stewardship.”
Trade was also a hot topic given the Administration’s current efforts. Tim Wieroniey, ACA specialist, Health, Safety, and Environmental Affairs reported that ACA members urged Congressional staffers to keep the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in its current form and that “members highlighted the need for the Research & Development tax credit and how that would positively impact their constituents.”
“We also discussed our support for TSCA, the need for meaningful tax reform, and industry’s hope for infrastructure bills,” added Rhett Cash, ACA counsel, Government Affairs.
Lunch and Award Presentation
During the Congressional briefing lunch, which was held in the historic Kennedy Caucus Room, Andy Doyle presented the Coatings Industry Leadership Award to Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL) for his leadership and commitment to shepherding TSCA reform. Doyle noted Rep. Shimkus’s efforts to garner bipartisan support for TSCA modernization, “working with his colleagues on both sides of the aisle to advance policies that enhance our nation’s energy security and public safety.” In accepting the award, Rep. Shimkus spoke about the process for getting TSCA passed and indicated that he is now focused on the Reauthorization of the Safe Drinking Water Act and the Nuclear Waste Fund.
Innovations in the Coatings Industry
The day concluded with a panel discussion focused on highlighting innovations in the industry for Congressional members and their staff. Remi Briand, vice president, Research & Development, Tnemec Company, Inc.; Robert K. Roop, vice president, Global Refinish Technology, Axalta Coating Systems LLC; and Dr. Phillip Yu, director, Corporate Science & Technology, PPG, discussed their respective companies’ approach to new ideas and innovation in the industry.
Briand highlighted that Tnemec places emphasis on fireproofing materials and liquid insulation that is especially helpful when fires, flooding, and other emergencies and natural disasters occur. “We work with engineers and look at an infrastructure and determine how we can restructure it,” he stated. Briand believes energy conservation will be “the next big breakthrough” in coatings.
Roop proffered examples of Axalta’s latest innovations in coatings, including Flex coating for helmets that provide functionality and visual aesthetics; coatings with faster cure time, resulting in lower costs for ambulances and utility vehicles; and providing corrosion protection to extend the life and functionality of roads and buildings.
Yu stressed the importance of innovation to PPG, stating that “3 percent of the company’s revenue is invested back into Science & Technology.” Using an open innovation model, PPG’s innovation is coupled with commercialization to “augment and speed up development of new products to enter the market.”
These innovations were met with interest and succeeded in demonstrating the enumerable contributions of the coatings industry to the nation.
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