Q & A with IWLA Government Affairs Council Chairman Michael Christie

capital-nightEach fall, IWLA members who attended the association’s Legislative Fly-in learn about the latest regulatory and policy issues that affect the warehouse-based 3PL industry. In addition, they visit with key members of congress who shape future policy. Michael Christie, vice president of CMAC Transportation and IWLA Government Affairs Council chairman, shares his perspective on the Sept. 16-18 event – and he looks at what’s ahead in IWLA Government Affairs.

What was the overall feeling generated during the 2013 IWLA Legislative Fly-in & Council Meetings?
The tone of the meetings were informative and insightful in that they not only provided us with the latest and greatest in policy changes, but also provided the councils opportunities to ask questions pertaining to each of our specific business needs.

For example, during the IWLA Government Affairs Council session, “What’s Next for the Affordable Health Care Act?” Toby Malara, counsel, American Staffing Association, opened the floor for attendees to ask questions about how different scenarios of our businesses could be impacted. He also outlined possible changes to how full-time hours would be calculated with a minimum workforce of 50 and up to more than 250 full-time employees, and how to calculate 9 percent of employee salaries into the health care costs, as required by law.

What were the highlights for you? What were determined to be the top issues facing the industry right now?
A highlight from the 2013 Fly-in revolved around the current economic lag that our country is facing and how our government is dealing with it. During the “Panel Discussion: Outlook for Tax Reform” session, panelists Gideon Bragin, tax adviser, Office of U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Jake Menefee, legislative assistant, U.S. Rep. James Renacci (R-Ohio), discussed how the propane tax credit would not be resigned as an extension.

Also discussed were the impact of the Bush tax credits expiring and the effect of healthcare costs under the Affordable Care Act. These are estimated to result in a 26 percent increase in small business taxes. These tax increases and policy decisions are restraining the small businesses that are the foundation of economic growth.

Sen. Dan Coats (R-Ind.) poses with Michael Christie at the IWLA-PAC Fundraising Event in Washington, D.C.

Sen. Dan Coats (R-Ind.) poses with Michael Christie at the IWLA-PAC Fundraising Event in Washington, D.C.

What did you find most valuable or what did the attendees find most valuable?
I always find the IWLA Political Action Committee (IWLA-PAC) Fundraising Event something special. It was held in the Capitol Hill Club, which was established in 1951 by Rep. James C. Auchincloss (R-N.J.) with 100 other members. It is now one of the most popular gathering spots for lawmakers in Washington. This year, Sen. Dan Coats (R-Ind.) was in attendance at the dinner and did a wonderful job with keeping guests interested and through heartfelt stories about our country. It was a pleasure to have him in attendance. 

What, if any, are the next steps for the IWLA Government Affairs Council?
I would like to see the IWLA Government Affairs Council continue the grassroots efforts of 2013 in extending an invitation to each member to join the IWLA Political Action Committee. The feedback I received from extending the offer to IWLA members was very positive. I think there is an opportunity to expand this valuable effort. I would like to work on developing a road map to guide new government affairs through involving more members in the legislative process.

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