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NPGA hosts congressional update webinars

June 15, 2020 By    

The National Propane Gas Association (NPGA) held four congressional update webinars June 8-10. Topics of discussion with the representatives included COVID-19 relief legislation, projected outcomes of the 2020 election cycle and how the propane industry can advocate for essential legislative priorities. The LP Gas staff – Brian Richesson, Ellen Kriz, Carly McFadden and Sarah Peecher – filed these reports.


Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Ill.

Davis

Davis

NPGA met with Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Ill., during a congressional webinar to discuss the current state of the industry, economy and the upcoming election.

Michael Baker, director of legislative affairs for NPGA, asked Davis to share his thoughts on whether an additional legislative relief package would be available in the future to combat the negative impact of the coronavirus on the economy, and what one might include. Davis shared that he believes it’s unlikely another relief package will be made available until Democrats work with Republicans to decide together where that funding would go.

When asked about the upcoming election in November, Davis shared that he thinks Republicans have a shot at taking the majority, citing a Republican win by Mike Garcia over Democrat Christy Smith during a special election in the suburbs of Los Angeles.

Regarding the presidential election, Davis shares that he believes President Donald Trump has the chance to beat former Vice President Joe Biden. “I do believe the president is his own best campaigner – and can be his own worst enemy,” Davis said. If the economy gets back to where it should, which Davis thinks will come sooner rather than later, he thinks Trump has a good chance of reelection.

While the coronavirus has halted business for companies worldwide and affected nearly every industry, including propane, Davis thinks that things are improving from where they were several months ago, saying that even with more testing available, rates are still going down. “We’re learning so much about a disease that we didn’t know existed eight months ago,” he said.


Rep. Bob Latta, R-Ohio

Latta

Latta

Michael Baker, director of legislative affairs for NPGA, asked Rep. Bob Latta, R-Ohio, co-chair of the Congressional Propane Caucus, to brief participants on coronavirus legislation and the upcoming elections.

Latta cited the $1,200 stimulus checks distributed to each U.S. resident; funding for the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program and the Paycheck Protection Program to bolster small businesses; and funding for hospitals, testing and vaccine research. He does not expect another major package will pass at this time, as Republican representatives assess the legislation that already passed and what still needs to be done. For now, they are cautious about more spending: “With unemployment going down, if we see unemployment continue to go down, the possibility would be holding right now on another package,” said Latta.

Latta believes the 2020 elections will be driven by “pocketbook issues,” with a focus on economic recovery. He said it’s doable for Republicans to regain the majority in the House by earning 17 seats. While he didn’t predict the results of the presidential election, he noted that tax reforms under President Donald Trump’s administration have benefited the economy.

While the coronavirus has presented challenges for propane advocacy this year, Latta encouraged marketers to reach out to him and call his district staff. “Please contact me at any time,” he said. “I can’t do my job unless I hear from you all.”


Rep. Kurt Schrader, D-Ore.

Schrader

Schrader

A member of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, Rep. Kurt Schrader, D-Ore., recognizes the role propane can play as a source of clean energy in the United States. “You are part of our solution on the energy side of the equation,” he said.

Schrader shared details about his goal to get power plants to near-zero emissions in the next 20 to 30 years and welcomes the energy sources that can help make that happen. “We’re proposing massive investments in technology and innovation, and allowing everyone a shot at becoming a low-carbon-emissions source of power for our country and for the world,” he said.

A former farmer and veterinarian, Schrader said he’s proud to serve in the U.S. Congress at a time when leaders have responded to the danger America faces from the new coronavirus. The federal government gave states and local governments the latitude to devise plans that work best for them. While government programs have helped employees and small businesses, Schrader said, “the key to the future is not for government to keep spending money we don’t have. The time has now come to reopen America – not in some cavalier way but in a way that is smart, seamless and fairly rapid.” Schrader said he has to remind his colleagues that “businesses are not going to keep going unless they have a customer. You can’t keep people locked in at home and expect to have an economy.”

Schrader urged propane industry members to reach out to their congressional leaders, no matter the political party, because he sees bipartisan energy opportunities on the horizon. Explain what you need to keep your businesses going, he said. “You bring a lot to the table. You’re a cleaner fuel and critical to rural America.”


Rep. Xochitl Torres Small, D-N.M.

Torres Small

Torres Small

Rep. Xochitl Torres Small, D-N.M., discussed the path ahead after coronavirus closures as well as her thoughts on the upcoming election. Torres Small also spoke briefly about the rural communities and small businesses within the counties she represents.

According to Torres Small, propane has played an important role in the communities she represents, especially when it comes to providing a good energy supply. Through the Blue Dog Coalition, an official caucus composed of fiscally responsible Democrats, Torres Small said that she is part of a rural opportunity task force. She has been listening to businesses’ responses to the Paycheck Protection Program to ensure it fits their needs. Torres Small expressed some concern about getting funding to local communities.

“As we’re working to reopen the economy in a responsible way, what we see a lot of struggle with right now is [getting] funding to local communities. We’ve already reached a bipartisan compromise and passed some money for states, but that money has not gotten down to the rural counties that I represent,” she said.

Torres Small said a key piece in restarting the economy includes infrastructure: “I think it’s vital that we start putting together a realistic and fast-paced plan. We recognized it was going to take a lot of money to [help the] economy. I think we need to put it into a wise investment like infrastructure.”

As for the upcoming election, Torres Small said congressional votes continue to be polarized, even in primaries, and that is a challenge in getting work done. She hopes that as momentum builds for the election, people come together and regain confidence that the two-party system helps get better results.

Featured image showing propane industry members visiting with Latta in 2018: LP Gas staff

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