Pro dealers take on Washington

Curtis Lumber’s team on the Hill (left to right): Chris Curtis, Lisa Yorks and Jon Hallgren

Arlington, Va. -- In a hotel conference room here filled with pro dealers about to make their lobbying rounds on Capitol Hill, the National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association's Jonathan Paine and Ben Gann rallied the troops.

Up on the screen was a list of 24 names, all Republicans. It was a lobbying hit list of congressmen from Rob Bishop of Utah to Don Young of Arkansas. These legislators had supported previous versions of the Innocent Sellers Fairness Act, but who have not signed on for the current version -- HR 2746. 

A clear opportunity, according to Paine. "Remind them that they have supported this legislation in the past," he said. "There's no reason these folks should not support this bill again." 

One of the key points to bring to these legislators, and anyone else for that matter, is that retailers should not be held liable for merely selling a product. "That's the message that has to get across," Gann offered.

A dealer asked about the bill's impact on consumer protection (separate issue). Another asked about a senate version (The act needs support in the house first). And through the room, dealers took notes and prepared talking points for a day of lobbying. 

The scene above played out during the 2014 NLBMDA Spring Meeting & Legislative Conference, which brought together dealers and building material suppliers from around the country to push the lumberyard industry's national agenda. (Click here for more information.)

In addition to the Innocent Sellers Fairness Act, the NLBMDA's talking points included three other priority issues. Collected here are excerpts from the talking points:

Reform EPA Lead: Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule

Key point: The rule that requires certain renovation work to be supervised and performed by EPA-certified firms is an example of excessive regulation. The removal of an opt-out clause for homes without children or pregnant adds $336 million to compliance costs.

The ask: Cosponsor the Lead Exposure Reduction Amendments Act and support reforms to the program.


Online Sales Tax Fairness

Key point: The same rules that apply to community-based retailers should apply to online retailers.

The ask: Encourage members of the house to pass the Marketplace Fairness Act.


Improving Energy Efficiency

Key point: Green building rating systems should be product neutral.

The ask: Pass the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act, ensuring that federal agencies do not unfairly exclude certain building materials, such as wood.


The NLBMDA Legislative Conference runs through Wednesday.

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