With 444 landscaping professionals in Washington this week for their trade association’s annual Renewal and Remembrance event, it was a sure bet members of Congress would be shaking a lot of calloused hands by week’s end.
And while a lot more members of the National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP) turn out for the day of service at Arlington National Cemetery than stick around to visit Capitol Hill the following day, the green industry’s presence undoubtedly was felt in the halls of Congress earlier this week. NALP members were joined for “Legislative Day” by partners from the National Hispanic Landscape Alliance and the Accredited Snow Contractors Association.
Landscapers know all too well that the wheels turn slowly in Washington, so many of the topics they discussed with senators, representatives or members of their staffs this week – the H-2B visa program, Waters of the United States rule and other regulatory matters – were the same issues they brought to the Hill last year.
“That just shows that it takes time to change the status quo,” said NALP’s director of government affairs, Tom Delaney, adding: “Well, except the pollinator issue – that’s new.”
In meetings before the organization’s members headed to the Hill, Delaney and other NALP staff members stressed the importance of supporting the association’s political action committee (PAC). Like it or not, they said, exercising any substantial influence in Washington – indeed, even the ability to get a hearing for one’s concerns – requires raising money for political contributions.
Those pre-Legislative Day meetings also included a roundtable discussion among representatives of state landscaping associations from across the country, as well as NALP’s education foundation, among other committees. There, too, the principal topics echoed last year’s meetings. Members’ chief concerns continue to be the long-term challenges to the industry – the ability to attract and retain a sufficient number of workers, for example.
In the meeting of state associations’ executives, Delaney asked, “Is there any state represented here that is not having trouble finding enough workers?” Among the dozens of people attending, not a single hand went up.
Caterpillar and New Holland Construction were the primary sponsors of NALP’s 2015 Renewal and Remembrance and Legislative Day activities, along with the conference held in conjunction with the two events.