October 2, 2009
Nearly 50 of the National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association’s (NSSGA) members took to the halls of Capitol Hill, holding hundreds of meetings on Sept. 23 as part of the “Aggregates In Action” Fall Fly-In. According to the NSSGA, these grassroots leaders from the aggregates industry delivered strong and clear messages to legislators and their staffs on the need to pass a multi-year highway authorization, overly aggressive U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) enforcement, and opposition to the Clean Water Restoration Act and card check. The fly-in was especially timely, coming on the same day that a House vote to extend SAFETEA-LU was being passed. Attendees, in conjunction with NSSGA’s many coalition partners, were able to help persuade a majority of Republicans to vote for the extension over the objections of their leadership.
Dr. Gregory Wagner, deputy assistant secretary for policy at MSHA, addressed fly-in participants on Sept. 22. NSSGA members and state association partners voiced their concerns regarding overly aggressive enforcement actions by MSHA inspectors and suggested constructive ways that industry and regulators can work together to continue improving safety for aggregate workers. That evening, Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) spoke at the welcoming reception and discussed his work with NSSGA on the minerals definition issue.
Later in the week, NSSGA President and CEO Joy Wilson met with Senators Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Bob Casey (D-Pa.) and Ted Kaufman (D-Del.), pressing them to reauthorize the highway program sooner than the 18-month extension favored by the Senate. The Democratic senators assured NSSGA of their support for reauthorization, but stated that the main dilemma they faced was the timing on finding the necessary funding. They predicted that Congress would not likely enact either a user fee increase or increases in alternate financing mechanisms before the 2010 midterm elections.