While I’m optimistic about the remainder of 2021 and in-person events happening again, I have been frustrated and upset that we’ve gone more than a year without having NALP’s Legislative Days in-person and in Washington D.C. Unfortunately, bringing all of our tireless advocates onto Capitol Hill this summer will not be possible.
But we won’t let that deter our efforts in 2021. With that being, said I’m happy to announce that NALP Legislative Days will be going virtual this year and will begin on June 14 and then span over the course of two weeks until June 25 to maximize our ability to have as many meetings as possible.
As an industry, we cannot miss the opportunity to introduce the landscape industry to a new Congress. In January, nine new senators and 62 representatives took office and many of them are in pivotal Congressional districts and have been appointed to key Committee assignments that are pertinent to the landscape industry.
In addition to the new members, we have an entirely different dynamic in Congress with Democrats gaining a narrow majority in the Senate, maintaining a narrow majority in the House and the Biden Administration aggressively pursuing a bold policy agenda in his first 100 days in office. The issues being debated on Capitol Hill are significant to the landscape industry and we need to weigh in on these important issues including immigration reform, climate change, H-2B cap relief, infrastructure and tax reform.
The program and format for the virtual event will be abbreviated and much more convenient for you to participate from your office or in the comfort of your home. On Monday, June 14, there will be three sessions. The first being an introductory session to review logistics of how NALP’s virtual legislative days will function, including a briefing on how to properly message and interact with Capitol Hill offices for the most effective lobbying in a virtual setting.
There will then be two break-out sessions to review core messaging and talking points on H-2B cap relief and climate change (more in detail below). NALP staff will plan all your Capitol Hill meetings for you and provide you a schedule, calendar Zoom invites and NALP staff will participate in each meeting to assist you in your efforts.
As noted above, I’m disappointed that we cannot do these meetings in person; but over the past year, we’ve come to realize some tremendous benefits in conducting Capitol Hill meetings virtually.
Convenience – Not traveling to Washington D.C. in the humid summer months is a plus! Additionally, since we will spread meetings out over two weeks so participants will have more flexibility to attend a few 30-minute meetings rather than spending several days in D.C.
Accessibility – Meeting virtually has opened Congressional offices up more and we have seen increased access to the elected officials themselves or at least higher-level Congressional staffers. The offices can manage the schedules and timing much more efficiently and are therefore taking more appointments.
Impact – While I still value the in-person physical connection, meeting virtually has other benefits. Attention in a virtual setting is very focused. There are not the distractions of meeting in a Capitol Hill hallway or the bustle of a busy Congressional office. Also, being on a computer allows you to have talking points readily available, take more efficient notes, and immediately follow up with thank you notes and supporting materials.
During the virtual meetings, landscape professionals will be prepared to address two critical issues that will be very pertinent in June.
Immigration Reform and H-2B Cap Relief
The immigration debate will be ongoing in Congress, whether it is the larger immigration reform bill, the U.S. Citizenship Act, or smaller pieces associated with Dreamers and Temporary Protected Status, this will be the time that immigration reform will be up for debate and an ideal time to push for including H-2B reform.
The landscape industry has long advocated for and supported the passage of legislation to reform the H-2B program to address the outdated cap and other overly bureaucratic requirements of the program. Stalled comprehensive immigration reform efforts have held back any substantive changes to the H-2B program for the last several Congresses. We are energized and encouraged that there may be a place for cap relief, and we need you to carry the message to Congress and amplify our message.
In addition to lobbying for comprehensive reforms, we will continue to advocate for annual fixes in appropriations, without securing this annual language we will have no chance at supplemental visas in 2022 if the broader reforms don’t materialize.
President Biden is proposing large-scale infrastructure packages that will have many elements involving climate change. Additionally, other smaller bills are being introduced that will both positively or negatively impact the landscape industry’s ability to use specific products and equipment. This will be our opportunity to change the narrative on the landscape industry and how healthy landscapes assist in mitigating the negative impacts of climate change.
The lawn and landscape industry is committed to responsibly using our expertise and experience to maintain healthy green spaces. Healthy green spaces through our communities can actually play a pivotal role in combating climate change including sequestering carbon, cooling the planet, filtering water and cleaning the air.
We will be providing very specific talking points and leave-behinds for both H-2B reform and climate change and we will be prepared to equip you with the best tools to articulate the NALP advocacy objectives. Quite frankly, the best tools in advocacy are you and your story as the constituent. I am excited for this new opportunity to host virtual legislative days and hopefully we will bring more NALP members to the event than any previous year.
Please join us for NALP’s Virtual Legislative Days 2021 from June 14 – 25 sponsored by FMC and Vermeer. The event is free and a unique opportunity for you to easily advocate for the industry during an incredibly important time. Be sure to register by May 28, so we can schedule meetings with your Congressional representatives.