Print and Packaging Advocates Lobby Congress, Meet with Pence’s Staff
Despite continuing partisan turmoil in Washington, 64 representatives from the printing and paper packaging industries stated a unified case for the importance of a healthy printing and packaging manufacturing sector during the 2017 Print & Packaging Legislative Summit, June 20-21, in Washington. The event was held in conjunction with the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) 2017 Manufacturing Summit, which this year saw keynote presentations by Vice President Mike Pence and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wis).
“We had a tremendous turnout for this year’s event, and the scope of our visits and congressional involvement was greater than I have ever seen,” said John Forrey, President of Specialty Industries in Red Lion, Penn., Chairman of AICC’s Government Affairs Committee. “There certainly was a ‘buzz’ about this year’s event with a more pro-manufacturing Administration in place,” he said. The Print & Packaging Legislative Summit, re-branded from the former “Corrugated Industry Legislative Fly-In,” featured industry leaders and key members of Congress on a host of issues, but none resonated more clearly with attendees than health care and tax reform.
Pence and Ryan Promote Agenda at NAM Luncheon
Some members participating in the Summit first attended a June 20th luncheon hosted by the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) where Vice President Mike Pence and House Speaker Paul Ryan spoke about the need for congressional action on health care, tax reform and workforce initiatives designed to help manufacturers recruit and retain qualified workers. Vice President Pence, noting the complexity of the current US Tax Code, vowed to follow through on President Trump’s calls for a 15% corporate tax rate, 100% first-year expensing of capital projects and the elimination of the estate tax for family businesses. Ryan, for his part, echoed the Vice President, saying the number one priorities in the House were bolstering the economy through passing of a new health care law and reforming the tax code.
Speaking at a congressional welcome reception on Capitol Hill later that day, three Republican members of Congress, whose districts are home to a sizable number of print, packaging and paper-related facilities, addressed the group about the importance of manufacturing and how attendees can help their legislators carry the message forward. Representative Virginia Foxx of North Carolina’s 5th congressional district, spoke of initiatives for workforce development. Foxx, chairman of the House Education and Workforce Committee, cited the lack of technical educational resources as one of the reasons the manufacturing sector is scrambling now to find workers in a time of expansion. “We need you to tell your representatives to support the upcoming Perkins Reauthorization Act,” she said, referring to H.R. 2353, the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act, which reauthorizes the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act through Fiscal Year 2023 and was scheduled for a House floor vote on Thursday, June 22. This issue was one of the principal talking points of this year’s Summit. [Note: the bill was passed by voice vote in the House of Representatives on Thursday, June 22; 2353; it has now moved to the Senate where it awaits action in the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.]
Congressman Sean Duffy (R-Wis.), representing the 7th district of Wisconsin and a member of the House Financial Services Committee, spoke to the group about the tax code and the burdens its complexity places on small businesses. Congressman Bruce Poliquin (R-Me.) of the 2nd district of Maine, co-chair of the House Paper & Packaging Caucus, talked about the importance of the paper and printing industries to his district which covers a large swath of territory in Northern Maine. He told the group of his efforts in working with the paper industry’s Coalition for Paper Options, a group that promotes and preserves the option for printed paper investment statements, pharmaceutical information and other federally required reports. At a dinner presentation later that evening, Republican Senator Todd Young of Indiana told the group to keep up their efforts to promote a strong manufacturing sector by their annual visits and inviting their elected representatives to their plants. He encouraged members to educate their employees about the issues as well.
Members talk issues with their Congressmen and Senators
On the morning of Wednesday, June 21, members gathered on Capitol Hill to hear briefing presentations from industry leaders. Key issues being discussed by attendees at this year’s Print & Packaging Legislative Summit included: healthcare reform; tax reform, smarter regulation; workforce development and paper advocacy. Donna Harman, President and CEO of the American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA), discussed the results of her group’s Washington Fly-in held the previous week. Noting the parallel issues like tax reform, smarter regulation and workforce development, she urged members to amplify the messages which paper industry advocates had conveyed in the previous week. “There is power in repetition,” she said, “and you on the converting side of our business are the best messengers.” She also noted that it is important to maintain an ongoing relationship with elected representatives, especially once members return home. “It’s important to invite your representatives and senators to visit your plant sites so they can see our industry in action and understand its importance to the economy,” she said. “And do not forget to thank them when they support a position that is important to us.”
Dennis Colley, President and CEO of the Fibre Box Association (FBA), gave an overview of the corrugated industry’s operating statistics for the previous year, noting especially the productivity gains made in the past several years. “We are producing more corrugated board now with 400 few plants than we were in the year 2000,” he said. He reminded members to talk about the sustainability of corrugated packaging and the forest products industry in general, saying that we work with a renewable resource that is recovered at a rate of 92% and is completely recyclable.
Senator Ron Johnson sees Rough Road on Health Care, Taxes
Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin addressed the group about the health care and tax reform issues, saying both faced a “rough road” for passage in the Senate. Senator Johnson expressed concern that all issues will depend on the passage of the health care reform bill. “Nothing can happen on tax reform until health care gets solved,” he said, predicting that if it’s passed by September, then tax reform can proceed this year without becoming a major issue in the 2018 mid-term election cycle. Johnson, who was introduced by Jim Servi, CFO of Automatan, received a plaque recognizing him for his work in the Senate Paper & Packaging Caucus.
Meeting with Vice President Pence’s Domestic Policy Staff
In addition to meetings on Capitol Hill, members participated in a private meeting with the Domestic Policy staff of Vice President Mike Pence. Arranged by Lisbeth Lyons, Vice President of Government Affairs for Printing Industries of America (PIA), the hour-long meeting focused on health care and tax reform. Rebehah Armstrong, health care advisor to Vice President Pence, stated her view that conflicting issues within the Republican ranks can be resolved and that Senate leadership will amass the minimum 50 votes needed to pass, with the 51st vote being cast by Vice President Pence. Once health care is resolved, then congress can move ahead on tax reform, said Stephen M Pinkos, the Vice President’s tax advisor. Attending the meeting on behalf of AICC were Doug Rawson, President of Superior Graphic Packaging and Regional Director for AICC Region One; Tony Schleich, President of Lawrence Paper Company American Packaging Division and Chairman of AICC; and John Forrey, President of Specialty Industries and Chairman of AICC’s Government Affairs Committee.
A Unified, Expanded Industry Voice
For the second year in a row the Print & Packaging Legislative Summit was a joint effort among AICC, the Fibre Box Association and Printing Industries of America (PIA). “Our partnership with AICC and FBA was once again a wonderful experience,” said Michael Makin, President and CEO of PIA. Also joining the printing and converting side of the business in 2017 were the International Association of Diemaking and Diecutting (IADD), and the National Association of Printing Ink Manufacturers (NAPIM). Jeremy Guest, president of Diansupply, St. Louis, and President of IADD, said of his experience at the 2017 Summit, “It is great to know that small businesses like mine and other IADD members do have a voice and that our voice is being heard.”
For more information about the 2017 Print & Packaging Legislative Summit, contact Laura Mihalick at firstname.lastname@example.org, or Steve Young at email@example.com.
Doug Rawson, Superior Graphic Packaging; and Tony Schleich, Lawrence Paper Company American Packaging Div., wait for Vice President’s speech at NAM luncheon.
AICC Chairman Tony Schleich (center) with Congressman Neal Dunn of Florida (left); and Congressman Bruce Poliquin of Maine. Both Congressmen are members of the House Paper & Packaging Caucus.
Senator Todd Young of Indiana makes a point at the Print & Packaging Legislative Summit’s opening dinner.
In the Vice President’s Office: John Forrey, left, President of Specialty Industries and Chairman of AICC’s Government Affairs Committee; AICC Chairman Tony Schleich; and Doug Rawson of Superior Graphic Packaging.
At closing reception, from left: Mike D’Angelo, AICC Vice President; Lisbeth Lyons, Vice President of Government Affairs for PIA; and John Forrey, Specialty Industries.
Chuck Fienning of Sumter Packaging in Sumter, SC, makes a point with Sen. Lindsay Graham.
Comparing notes after the Summit, from left: Michael Makin, President of PIA; Jeremy Guest, President of Diansupply representing IADD; AICC President Steve Young and AICC Chairman Tony Schleich.
Vice President Mike Pence addressed the National Association of Manufacturers during the Summit.
House Speaker Paul Ryan reinforced Congressional support for manufacturing in the US.