The North Carolina Home Builder Association (NCHBA) had its Second Quarter Board Meeting and Legislative Day on June 16 and 17. For the past 15 years I have participated in this event and, over time, have come to understand the importance of involvement at this level.
A Time to Share Local Concerns and Gain New Information
At the Board meeting I represent the Hickory-Catawba Valley Home Builders Association as a State Director so that our association always has an outlet to express local concerns. On the other side, I’m also there to bring valuable information from around the state back home. This information comes from participation in the various committee meetings, but also just as much from conversations during lunch or at a networking reception. Since the participants in these meetings come from both large, urban associations, as well as small rural ones, you get the full perspective.
At the NCHBA Membership Committee meeting we gathered information, such as on the value of the NCHBA Member Rebate program which essentially puts cash back into the pockets of Builder members. That program alone would more than pay the annual association dues for pretty much any builder and, in some cases, a lot more! It was also interesting to participate in the discussion of how to attract new and younger members to the associations and association events.
This year I was also given the privilege of serving on the Nominating Committee that interviews and selects the slate of candidates for the NCHBA officer positions in 2016. After the afternoon of interviews, I was truly impressed with the quality of people willing to take a tremendous amount of time away from their own businesses and serve in this capacity. It was also really nice to see some of our clients among that group!
Our Legislators Work Hard Around the Clock
Legislative Day takes place in two parts—a reception at the N.C. Museum of History on Tuesday evening and then visits to our legislators’ offices on Wednesday morning. Over the years I have come to see our state legislators as a hard-working bunch while they are in Raleigh. During session they’ll often head back to their offices to attend meetings or finish up work after the evening reception closes at 8 p.m. Then during the day, much of their time is taken up meeting with constituents (or with lobbyists) and hearing their perspective on the issues that they will either be putting into law—or blocking.
The way our government works, none of the bills that they craft and vote on are uncomplicated. Being the work of committees composed of people with diverse, and often opposing, interests; the bills are usually complex and very convoluted. It’s amazing that our senators and representatives ever have any clue about what they are dealing with. Unfortunately, a lot of the bills, which on the surface look great, have buried within them the potential of unintended and damaging consequences. That’s why Rep. Mitchell Setzer (pictured)—jokingly but also serious—says that we as citizens of the state are safer when the legislature isn’t in session!
Behind the scenes, our legislative staff at the NCHBA sorts through all of the bills as they are introduced and checks to see if they contain provisions that would be harmful. Part of NCHBA’s mission is to preserve affordable housing in North Carolina. Many bills introduced over the years, through unnecessary regulation, have pressured the cost of housing upward, beyond the ability of normal hard-working people to buy a home. And when people can’t buy homes, the jobs of those who build those homes are lost. Throughout the year the NCHBA staff works with the legislators to encourage them to keep housing safe and affordable. When association members come for Legislative Day from around the state, it reminds senators and representatives that it is real, live people from their own districts that care about what happens to their livelihood through the legislation enacted in Raleigh.
Make a Difference in the Building Industry
And why do I care about this? I care about our clients. Many of them are small businesses that don’t need extra impediments to their success. Far too few people get involved, and that could lead to the impression that builders and remodelers really don’t care what happens. I want to be one of those who stands up and makes a positive difference!