Contractor organization lobbies for association health plans and vocational funding.

FALLS CHURCH, Va. - The Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors-National Association is encouraging its members, as well as the entire industry, to contact national legislators about "association" health plans, permanent repeal of the estate tax and vocational education funding.

Legislation was recently introduced that would allow groups to negotiate for lower health care premiums. These so-called association health plans, along with repeal of the laws that allow the estate of a deceased to be taxed, are two issues PHCC has long championed. Also, the 2006 budget proposed by President Bush calls for the elimination of grant money that supports career and technical education. PHCC is in favor of continuing the funding.

"All of these issues have a great impact on the plumbing and HVACR industry," said Lake Coulson, vice president of government relations for the PHCC. "The more people who express an opinion about these topics, the more influence the industry will have on how far legislation progresses in Congress. We encourage everyone to get involved."

Both the House and the Senate have introduced association health plan legislation in the 109th Congress. In the House, Rep. Sam Johnson (R-Texas) has introduced the Small Business Health Fairness Act of 2005. Companion legislation was introduced by Sen. Olympia Snow (R-Maine).

Reps. Kenny Hulshof (R-Mo.) and Bud Cramer (D-Ala.) introduced the Death Tax Repeal Permanency Act of 2005 Feb. 17. Senators Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) and Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) introduced companion legislation in the Senate.

The president's 2006 budget proposes elimination of vocation funding, combining it with school-improvement block grants. PHCC believes there is no guarantee that the block grants would translate into funding for career- and technical-education programs.

PHCC has designated an area of its Web site for members to contact their legislators. Members can complete a form letter that can be sent to their representatives. The letter can be downloaded by going to relations/index.cfm.

"We developed this electronic letter-writing tool for PHCC members, but we would like for the industry to use it as well on important issues such as these," said Coulson.