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TRSAPAC Fly-In: Tax Reform, Environmental Issues on the Agenda

Posted December 8, 2017 at 5:41 pm

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TRSA held a series of high-impact meetings with members of Congress and White House staff on Dec. 7 in Washington, DC. The meetings were the culmination of the association’s exclusive Winter TRSAPAC Fly-In event, featuring two days of meetings on Capitol Hill with legislators and high-ranking officials in President Donald J. Trump’s administration.

After a reception and dinner meeting with members of the U.S. House of Representatives the previous evening, the second day of the TRSAPAC Fly-In kicked off with a wide-ranging morning session with Rep. Tim Walberg (R-MI) at the Capitol Hill Club. A few of the topics the linen, uniform and facility services industry executives discussed with Rep. Walberg included:

  • The tax reform bill currently in conference, and particularly estate tax issues and its effect on small, family-owned businesses.
  • The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), unions and other labor issues.
  • The differences in style between past Republican presidential candidates like Mitt Romney and President Trump, including messaging and connecting with the American voters.
  • Legal marijuana use and its effect on job performance, as well as the American opioid crisis and its effect on finding qualified employees to staff laundry facilities nationwide.
  • How to bring back bipartisanship and cooperation to the U.S. political landscape, and passing bills in Congress rather than relying heavily on Executive Orders, as widely used by both President Barack Obama and President Trump.

Rep. Walberg concluded the morning meeting with his thoughts on the GOP Tax Reform legislation, and the importance of getting the message of its benefits out to American citizens. “Getting the message right is critical,” Rep. Walberg said. “When the American people start getting more money back in their paychecks and the economy keeps improving, we have to let them know it’s because of what we (GOP leadership) did.”

After the meeting with Rep. Walberg, the Fly-In continued with a discussion with Aaron Szabo, senior counsel at the White House Council on Environmental Quality. This gave the executives in attendance a great opportunity to discuss the burdensome overregulation that took place throughout the eight-year term of President Obama, and a chance to talk about ways that the regulatory environment could improve under the Trump administration. Szabo talked in great detail about air and water quality measures, and how the Council on Environmental Quality could take steps to improve its regulatory process for the betterment of the linen, uniform and facility services industry. A lengthy discussion about the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s VOC standard, and particularly its potential to emit standard in Region 1 (Northeast Region), took place at the hour-long meeting. TRSA Vice President of Government Relations Kevin Schwalb finished the meeting with an interest in continuing the discussion at a later date with Szabo and other staff members at the Council on Environmental Quality to improve the regulation for linen, uniform and facility services companies.

The meetings concluded with a pair of White House staff members – Mercedes Schlapp, the special assistant to the president on strategic initiatives; and John DeStefano, assistant to the president and director of presidential personnel. Schlapp and DeStefano gave attendees a rundown of important initiatives the administration is working on to improve the climate for businesses as well as job creation. “The president is focused on helping the American worker,” Schlapp said. “He is a fighter that wants to get the best possible deal for the American workers. Tax cuts are critical, there will be tax relief for middle-class, hardworking Americans; and corporate tax cuts will result in job creation and an optimism not seen in the American economy in years.”

Schlapp noted a number of initiatives, in addition to the tax bill, that the GOP plans to work on moving forward, including trade policy, welfare reform, infrastructure investment, and possibly a revisit to the party’s unsuccessful previous efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

A diverse group of TRSA operator and associate member executives attended the meetings, from large national companies to regional and independent operators. The following TRSAPAC members attended the Dec. 6-7 meetings:

  • Jim Buik, Roscoe Co.
  • Michael Croatti, UniFirst Corp.
  • Kristin Dempsey, Dempsey Uniform & Linen Supply
  • Ashlee Foltz, Cintas Corp.
  • David Stern, Paris Cos.
  • David Tingue, Tingue
  • Doug Waldman, Superior Linen Service

The event was well received by those in attendance. “I thought the Winter Fly-In could not have been better,” Stern said. “The meetings were well coordinated with members of Congress that have limited time. The venues were great and getting access to high-level presidential advisers should bear fruit to the industry and gave me a better understanding of the administration’s priorities. Glad to have been part of the TRSA delegation!”

Tingue added that, “I found the people who worked for the executive office to be surprisingly open-minded and excellent listeners. Past administrations that I have called on as a TRSA rep (Obama and Bush alike) were more interested in being heard than in listening. We experienced a refreshing change from both the president’s environmental team and his communications team.

“We learned before CNN and FOX reported it Wednesday night that the Republicans focus post-tax reform would be entitlement/welfare reform and then an infrastructure bill. We were able to address our industry’s concerns regarding entitlement/welfare programs while the fire was just getting started. Our congressional member audiences were supportive and encouraged by our participation.”