October 27, 2014

The Politics of Washington and its Effects on NAHB Membership

 The Politics of Washington and it's Effects on NAHB Membership

"If a tree falls in the forest, and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?" How many times have you heard that line and actually thought about the question? Does anything make a sound if you are not there to actually hear the sound?  You'll have to admit these are valid questions but more important is your believe that things do make sounds, whether you can hear them or not. Our National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) is like that for the advocacy perspective. If housing legislation is stopped or promoted in Washington, and the member is not there to hear the conversations, does NAHB make a sound? The answer is a resounding YES. We have talked in the past about what our advocacy efforts (protecting your income and potential business growth) has done for the members back home, at the local level. The politics of Washington D.C. are more than just understanding our respective legislators in Congress; it's really about the role of Congressional committees that proposed bills have the most impact on all of us within the home building industry. Bills begin and end their lives in committees, whether they are passed into law or not. Hearings from interest groups (think NAHB's special interest regarding our members livelihoods) and agency bureaucrats (think EPA) are held at the committee and subcommittee level, and committee members play key roles in floor debate about the bills that they cultivate and advance.

You can say you don't get involved with politics, and you have no need for this article, but our chosen careers within the building industry, be it builder, sub contractor, supplier or service provider is on the path that can not avoid politics and our staff and members that work on our behalf. The building industry is highly regulated and legislated; we can't just assume we have business through osmosis.

I would like to highlight the various committees that have, in all or part of the individual committee's oversight/jurisdiction, affects on our building industry and, by direct extension, our wallets. Below is a brief breakdown of the NAHB relevant jurisdiction for each committee and listed are the issues/bills that have gone through their committee recently. 

Kevin Kelly, Leon N. Weiner & Associates is an NAHB builder member from Delaware.


Financial Services Committee (http://financialservices.house.gov/) -House committee that covers economic issues primarily banking, housing, and insurance.  It also oversees the Fed, individual reserve banks, the Treasury, production/distribution of currency, and capital markets. The major relevant issues for NAHB are: GSE reform, flood insurance, TRIA (Terrorism Risk Insurance Act).

Ways and Means Committee (http://waysandmeans.house.gov/)- House committee that oversees “tax writing.” The committee has jurisdiction over revenue, and revenue- related aspects of SSI, Medicare, and other social service programs. The major relevant issues for NAHB are: MID (including second home deduction), Low Income Housing Tax Credit,  and currently Tax Extenders.

Transportation and Infrastructure Committee (http://transportation.house.gov/)- The House committee that covers all modes of transportation (including highways, bridges, mass transit, etc), and aspects of infrastructure.  The relevant issues for NAHB are: WOTUS (Waters of the US/ wetlands), and WRRDA (Water Resource Reform Development Act).
Natural Resources Committee (http://naturalresources.house.gov/)- Some of Natural Resources’ jurisdiction is over American energy production, mineral lands and mining, wildlife, and public lands. NAHB has not had any major bills go through this committee recently

Energy and Commerce Committee (http://energycommerce.house.gov/)- E&C has jurisdiction over public health, environmental quality, energy policy, DoE, HHS, and EPA. The relevant issues for NAHB are: Lead Bill, ACA, and currently the Energy Savings and Building Efficiency Act

Judiciary Committee (http://judiciary.house.gov/)- Judiciary oversees the DOJ and Homeland security, reg. reform, and immigration reform. The relevant issues for NAHB are: immigration reform, and regulatory reform.

Education and Workforce Committee (http://edworkforce.house.gov/)- Edu & Workforce has jurisdiction over education policy, but more relevant to our work they cover workforce training/development, and labor. The relevant issue for NAHB are: WIOA (Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act)

Appropriations Committee (http://appropriations.house.gov/)- the Appropriations committee has jurisdiction over appropriating currency set from the Budget. NAHB has multiple appropriations proposals including cutting funding for the EPA’s wetlands and lead proposals.


Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee (http://www.banking.senate.gov/public/)- The Banking Committee is the equivalent to the Financial Services committee in the House. They cover banking, insurance, financial markets, housing, urban development/mass transit, finance, and econ policy. The relevant issue for NAHB are: GSE reform, Flood insurance, and TRIA.

Finance Committee (http://www.finance.senate.gov/)-  Finance is the equivalent of Ways & Means, they have jurisdiction over taxation/ revenue measures, and SSI, Medicare, Medicaid, CHIP, TANF, etc. The major relevant issues for NAHB are: MID (including second home deduction), Low Income Housing Tax Credit,  and currently Tax Extenders.

Environment and Public Works Committee (http://www.epw.senate.gov/public/?CFID=153464062&CFTOKEN=15013574)- environmental policy, air/water pollution, flood control improvements of harbors etc., and wildlife.

Energy and Natural Resources Committee (http://www.energy.senate.gov/public/)- jurisdiction covers energy policy and regulation, public land, nuclear energy, and water resources.

Judiciary Committee (http://www.judiciary.senate.gov/)- Judiciary (like in the House) oversees the DOJ and Homeland security, reg. reform, and immigration reform. The relevant issues for NAHB are: immigration reform, and regulatory reform.

Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee (http://www.help.senate.gov/)- the HELP Committee has jurisdiction over health care, education, labor and pensions. The relevant issues for NAHB are: ACA, and WIOA (Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act)

Appropriations Committee (http://www.appropriations.senate.gov/)-  the Appropriations committee (like the House) has jurisdiction over appropriating currency set from the Budget. NAHB has multiple appropriations proposals including cutting funding for the EPA’s wetlands and lead proposals. 

Note #1: I want to thank Jim Tobin, NAHB  Senior Vice President, Government Affairs and Jessica Hall, NAHB Government Affairs, for helping me bring this to you.

Note #2:  "BUILD-PAC contributors need to understand the importance of being informed about the issues affecting our businesses and our industry. It is equally as important for us to do our part to disseminate BUILD-PAC’s message among our membership. I encourage YOU to be an active participant in the political process."- Greg Ugalde, NAHB's BUILD-PAC Chairman

Note #3: Click on my name below if you have any questions or would like more info on this article.

October 20, 2014

Pope John XXIII Delivers a Sermon for Association Volunteers

"Consult not your fears but your hopes and dreams. Think not about your frustrations, but about your unfulfilled potential. Concern yourself not with what you tried and failed in, but with what is still possible for you to do."-Pope John XXIII

While I may be Catholic, this article is not about Catholicism. It is about a quote that was sent to me by an exceptional "association family" member. This quote resonated with me as it should with quite a few of our dedicated home builder association (HBA) volunteers and the staff that work with those volunteers.

The first part of the above quote deals with "fears." Fear, applying it to our association initiatives, is the fear of trying something new, something that hasn't been tried before or has but failed. What I read in this part of the quote is that the we should look at the potential and what we hope to gain by trying something new. Dreaming sounds like wishful thinking but it's really not. It's about taking a reality you'd like to see and envision what life would look like, if...

The second part of the quote is closer to home for our volunteers. We all have tried some initiative that had frustrating components  built in. Naysayers, historians (we've always done it this way) and over thinkers. Those who continue, despite the "frustrations," may fail. But each failure is not a failure if you learn why you failed at that moment in time and make your course corrections. Eventually, with persistence and motivation to continue, dreams will come true and potential will become reality. Having fear is normal; having the faith to move past the fear is very special and It's clearly leadership.

This quote will stay with me because it applies to all we do in life but I also wanted to share with Association Maximization readers because it absolutely applies to what we do in the pursuit of association growth and delivering for our members.

October 13, 2014

The Strength of Our Federation

“In this era of excessive regulations and inflated costs, the strength of our membership drives our influence. I think I can speak for every member when I say how proud we are to be more than 140,000 members strong. Thank you Spikes, for what, and who, you bring to the association.” -  Jerry Howard, National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Chief Executive Officer    
Some say being a consistent PAC fundraiser is the key to a healthy advocacy effort. Others would claim that a consistent membership recruiter is the key to advocacy, the power of many voices funneled through one bull horn. Truth be told, without both PAC and membership we are small boat adrift on the ocean.
I have written many an article regarding PAC. This article won’t be one of them. This is about the men and women of our Federation who bring in new members. This is about “growing our strength through member recruitment, retention and Involvement.”
What is a Spike that Jerry Howard referenced above? A Spike is someone who actively recruits new members. Think about a railroad spike or a spike (nails) used in building a home. Without spikes the entity collapses. You can’t build without a connector and the value of that connector, or spike, is the key in a stable entity. In this case the entity is the home builders association (HBA). Spikes deliver the lifeblood to our industry protection and growth efforts; they recruit and deliver new members.

November is Spike Appreciation Month, and Spikes are arguably our most important assets within our association efforts to help all of our businesses. Each local HBA has Spikes but the question is what will each local HBA do to acknowledge them

Some suggestions:

1.   Newsletter (or whatever platform you utilize for members) recognition. You must start with a short paragraph explaining the value of members, overall, to the local, state and national HBAs. Without the “power of our voices grow as membership grows” description, other members reading will glaze over the recognition, defeating the purpose of membership;
  • Picture
  • Name and, if applicable, any NAHB designation.
  • Company name
  •  How many members recruited
  • Press release to local media.
2.   General membership recognition with;
  • The recruiter(s) brought up and recognized in front of the gathering. Again, two minute or so description of the value of membership and then the value of recruiters to everyone who earns a living in the building industry. Reach out personally and invite their employers so the employer can witness first hand the recognition.
  • Have a sign prepared with each Top Ten (or a number of your choice) recruiters picture, name (designations) and company name, with current Spike count if you'd like. Or, if this can be easily done, rolling presentation on screen of your recruiters.

3.   Thank you letters to the employers of your recruiters explaining, again, the value of our association as it pertains to each members’ company and highlighting the employees efforts and the press recognition with the company name included.
4.   For the owners of the company who are active recruiters, all of the above applies to you and your efforts.

It is up to each local HBA to take pieces of the above, all of the above or utilize my message here to craft your own message. But doing nothing is not a wise choice. Everyone likes recognition particularly in a volunteer fueled association. Recognition and the openly discussed value of each recruiters' efforts are an amazing motivator. Plaques, certificates or any other "award" are nice but they do not drive Spikes. Giving a special thank you is all most recruiters need or want. 
Take this month of November, our nation’s month of Thanksgiving, and give the proper thanks to those who give it their best effort to bring in new members.

For more information on Spikes visit the Spike Club (click here)

Special note from Mary Spooner, NAHB Manager, Membership Systems, Member Services and Education

We wanted to let you know what Membership has planned for Spike Appreciation Month in November.

·         Email from NAHB to all Spikes with video-recorded thank you from Chair Kevin Kelley

·         Page on nahb.org about Spike Appreciation Month and its importance

·         TouchPLUS promotion for local and state HBAs to use to thank their Spikes directly

·         Profile stories on top Spikes throughout the federation

·         Social media exposure related to the above items: Facebook, NAHBNow.org blog posts, etc.

Please let us know if you have any thoughts or suggestions  mspooner@nahb.org


submitted by Michael Kurpiel, CGA, CGP