WASHINGTON MAKES WAY FOR PROPANE DAYS
Two days, dozens of visits, 160 NPGA members with swollen feet.
A small army of propane industry members invaded Washington, D.C. in early May for Propane Days. High on its list of objectives was to convince members of Congress of the need for smart, efficient reform to commercial drivers license background checks as well as to inform representatives about the effects of unfair chemical facility anti-terrorism legislation on the propane industry. The National Propane Gas Association (NPGA) hosted about 160 members and their guests at the two-day event, which included a keynote speech by former Secretary of Homeland Security and former governor of Pennsylvania Tom Ridge.
With members having already set up meetings with congressmen and senators prior to arriving, they marched on Capitol Hill with information packets prepared by NPGA and the Propane Education & Research Council (PERC).
A number of states were well represented. The largest contingents were from Iowa, Georgia, North Carolina, Michigan, South Carolina, and Texas.
More than five dozen offices were called upon, including a number of committee chairmen such as Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), who is chairman of the Finance Committee, and Rep. Ralph Hall (R-Texas), who is chairman of the House Energy & Air Quality Subcommittee. Senators who took time out from their busy schedules to meet with their constituents were Carl Levin (D-Mich.), Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), and John Isakson (R-Ga.).
Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas), who sits on the House Committee on Homeland Security, invited the Texas members to meet with her during a break in House proceedings and spent several minutes reviewing the commercial driver's license process and the unfair advantages rural electric cooperatives have in competing in the propane market.
At least two of the visits proved noteworthy: members of the Texas delegation ran into NPGAs former PropanePAC manager, Jonathan Day, who is now chief of staff for Texas Congressman Michael McCaul, and an impromptu meeting was arranged. New York members met with Sen. Hillary Clintons (D-N.Y.) new chief of staff, Dan Utek, who was former Sen. Jon Corzines chief of staff. While with Corzine, Utek was instrumental in helping NPGA in its efforts to get propane exempted from a chemical facility security bill.
At the beginning of each day, NPGA staff reviewed a number of issues for members as well as how to approach each of the meetings. Roy Willis of PERC and his staff were also on hand for the event. PERC provides the funding for Propane Days.
In addition to Ridge, the association also brought in Fred Barnes, cofounder and executive editor of The Weekly Standard, and Stephanie Vance of Advocacy Associates to speak on Washington issues. A number of NPGA delegates commented on Ms. Vances presentation on how to handle themselves with their elected representatives and their staff. Pointing out how young most staffers are, Ms. Vance noted that they play an important role in each office, providing direction and information for their bosses while assisting constituents.
Propane Days for 2007 is being organized for early May.
From left: Meagan S. Linn (right) with Rep. Ellen Tauscher met with Stephani Stell and Jill Hopkins.
New York delegates Alex DeSanto (center) and Joe Armentano.
Mark Callahan and Brigid Kolish from Sen. Barbara Milkulski's office.
Mark Pennington with Rep. Dave Camp.
Pam Helms with former DHS Secretary Tom Ridge.
Georgia delegation with Sen. John Isakson (center left).
Indiana members and Rep. Mike Pences aide.
Jonathan Day (left) of Rep. Michael McCaul met with Russ Ridings and other Texas members.
Georgia members with Bradley Edgell (center) from Rep. Jim Marshalls office.
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