NLBMDA fights the good fight

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NLBMDA fights the good fight

By HBSDealer Staff - 04/24/2020
In a Chairman’s message that combined words of lumberyard encouragement with reports of legislative progress, the National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association Chair Robert Sanford recounted a busy few weeks for the association.

Sanford, the president of Connecticut-based Sanford & Hawley, said the NLBMDA’s Covid-19 efforts have brought significant results in a short timeframe.

Here is chair's message:

Bob Sanford

Without a doubt, in just a few weeks, the global pandemic has significantly disrupted the lumber and building material (LBM) industry and has resulted in our members facing a variety of hardships that were unimaginable at the beginning of the year. Amidst the crisis, I am humbled by the stories of resiliency that I am hearing from our members. As you all know too well, in difficult times, the LBM industry bands together like no other. Stories of lumber dealers increasing wages in support of their employees, helping competitors, and supporting local communities are common.

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused major shifts in how business is conducted. LBM dealers around the U.S. have dealt with issues ranging from essential business designations, to small business loan programs, to new employee leave policies, to ensuring the safety of employees and customers. The federal government has taken several steps at the legislative and agency levels, and NLBMDA has been leading the way on behalf of the industry and has taken several critical actions over the past several weeks. I would like to take this opportunity to highlight some of these actions and remind you why it is so important to have representation in Washington D.C. and for us to be an active and engaged member of the NLBMDA. 

When the pandemic was first spreading, states began to take action limiting commerce to “essential” business. Many states followed guidance issued by the federal government that recognized LBM dealers as essential, but the other issue was residential construction. NLBMDA lobbied the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), who originally issued the federal guidance, to include construction and I am pleased to report that effort was successful.

The issue of states taking their own actions on essential business, with some even at the local level, proved to be a significant challenge, and in some states, it still is. While NLBMDA was working federally, the association wanted to make sure it was providing as much support as possible to its federated association partners. To do so, NLBMDA contacted all 50 governors, in partnership with the federated associations, to urge them to recognize both LBM dealers and construction as essential business.

 Legislatively, Congress began passing bills to provide a series of relief measures as the pandemic impacted business and commerce. The first significant one was on the paid leave requirements for employees who meet certain criteria for being affected by COVID-19. After that, known as “Phase 2”, Congress started working on another bill that would deal specifically with tangible relief through cash and loan programs. NLBMDA lobbied Congress in advance for several important priorities for the industry through both direct lobbying and grassroots. NLBMDA was successful in getting two important provisions included in the “Phase 3” bill. The first was the $350 billion to fund small business loan programs like the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and the second was the QIP fix. The QIP fix undoes a drafting error in the 2017 Tax Cut and Jobs Act so now qualified interior improvements in commercial properties are eligible for bonus depreciation. These were significant wins for the industry and this success was no doubt due to the grassroots efforts taken by NLBMDA members.

The next challenge was trying to sort through all of the implementing guidance for this legislation. It’s rare that a piece of legislation requiring significant action by a federal agency can be implemented in under a few months, let alone a few days. The Small Business Administration (SBA) and the Department of the Treasury began issuing guidance after a few days and NLBMDA made sure to communicate this information to members, through both a webinar and through its comprehensive COVID-19 Action Resource Center. After just a short time, it became clear that PPP and the Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) would be depleted. NLBMDA immediately began lobbying Congress for additional funding to boost these programs to ensure that dealers have access and recently, Congress appropriated more funds, which illustrated the influence of NLBMDA once again.

One of the considerations for NLBMDA as the pandemic has been spreading is that most of the federal relief is targeted at small businesses. NLBMDA wholly supports small business relief and one of the strategies for a “Phase 4” bill is lobbying in support of dealers with over the 500 employee threshold getting access to relief. NLBMDA was pleased to see that the Federal Reserve did take action to, among other things, create the Main Street Lending Program, which will encourage banks to make loans for companies with less than 10,000 employees, and NLBMDA submitted written comments to the Fed on the need for dealers of all sizes to have access to funding in this time of need.Our association will to continue to represent LBM dealers in Washington D.C. at the federal level and support its Federated association partners however possible. NLBMDA is already advocating behind the scenes for key provisions in the “Phase 4” stimulus package.

NLBMDA is at the forefront of protecting the federal interests of the entire lumber and building material industry and we should be immensely proud of the work they are doing on our behalf.