Public Policy Advocacy Highlighted At NSPE Annual Meeting

August/September 2014

NSPE TODAY: POLICY PERSPECTIVES
Public Policy Advocacy Highlighted At NSPE Annual Meeting

BY ARIELLE EISER

At NSPE’s 2014 Annual Meeting, members from across the country gathered in the nation’s capital to discuss the issues of greatest importance to the professional engineering community. Reflecting a sustained and growing interest among NSPE’s members in public policy advocacy, several sessions and committee meetings focused on promoting the Society’s legislative and regulatory initiatives. These events informed members about the latest policies and developments, as well as provided a forum for members to meaningfully engage and contribute to the development of NSPE’s public policy agenda for the upcoming year.

To foster a creative and innovative approach to discuss the breadth of advocacy issues, two sessions were held. One provided detailed information on the policy issues of greatest interest to PEs, and another explained the strategies and tools available to NSPE members to promote these legislative and regulatory issues to their lawmakers.

The first session, “Key Legislative and Regulatory Issues Affecting the Practice of Engineering,” addressed vital licensure and legislative initiatives, ranging from the enactment of significant national infrastructure legislation to comity issues pertaining to continuing education requirements. An expert panel of NSPE leaders, as well as staff, engaged in a dialogue with a packed audience on topics that have dominated the engineering landscape over the past year and will continue to do so in the coming year. Panelists and members discussed the industrial exemption; the threat it poses to the public health, safety, and welfare; and the challenges faced in attempting to repeal it in states across the country. STEM education and, in particular, the need to emphasize the “E” in STEM was another interesting topic of conversation. Panelists and members emphasized the role NSPE must play in developing and supporting pertinent legislation. In fact, as a direct result of this session, there was an immediate influx of Action Alerts sent to members of Congress to urge their support of the Educating Tomorrow’s Engineers Act (S.1178/H.R.2426).

The second session, “Advocacy at the Local, State, and National Levels: Critical Considerations and Key Tools” provided attendees with an overview of public policy advocacy at all levels of government and explored the tools and strategies available to them as NSPE members to communicate with and influence their legislators. NSPE staff discussed the basics of grassroots advocacy and the vital role professional engineers must play in actively promoting the profession to their elected officials. Texas Society of Professional Engineers Executive Director Trish Smith presented TSPE’s impressive legislative efforts as an example of successful advocacy at the state level. Marcie McNelis, chairman and principal of MultiState Associates, NSPE’s state legislative and regulatory tracking service, provided a detailed overview of the differences between advocacy at the federal and state levels and the components of a comprehensive strategic advocacy plan. Lastly, Mark Brazier of VoterVoice, NSPE’s new Legislative Action Center, showed attendees how to use the enhanced service and emphasized the importance of customizing the message to the particular member of Congress and the specific topic. As a result of this session, attendees are now more familiar with NSPE’s advocacy tools and how to leverage them effectively.

The Agenda

NSPE’s 2014 Annual Meeting advocacy efforts culminated in a new, well-defined legislative agenda for 2014–15. The Legislative and Government Affairs Committee, informed by the discussions during the Annual Meeting sessions, decided on six priorities for this year’s legislative agenda:

  1. Protecting and promoting qualifications-based selection;
  2. Improving our nation’s infrastructure;
  3. Enhancing STEM education, specifically emphasizing the engineering component;
  4. Promoting the licensure of returning veterans;
  5. Enacting a comprehensive energy policy; and
  6. Monitoring and supporting states in their efforts for expanded licensure (i.e., industrial exemption).

 

Members Advocate For Highway Funding

NSPE members now have a new online Legislative Action Center that makes it easier than ever for PEs to become advocates for the profession at the national, state, and local levels.

On June 2, NSPE used the Legislative Action Center to let members of Congress know about the importance of ensuring a long-term solution for the Highway Trust Fund.

Chart: In total, 196 members sent 587 alerts to 224 members of Congress (86 Senators, 138 Representatives), urging them to keep the trust fund solvent.
Be an advocate for the profession. Learn more about the action center at www.nspe.org/actioncenter.

Arielle Eiser is NSPE’s government relations manager.