"You represent the industry" was the message members of the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors-National Association heard during the PHCC's 10th annual Legislative Day.

Before heading to Capitol Hill for the March 16 event, the 100 PHCC members were told they had the distinction of being the only group that would be speaking on behalf of the entire industry.

"Our members essentially were representing the 80,000-plus PHC contractors in the U.S., and they took this role very seriously," said PHCC President Jim Stack. "I think it was very rewarding for them to know they were part of a very important process in American government."

During the morning breakfast, two keynote speakers discussed issues like small-business health plans, tort reform, estate taxes, tax relief and Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security reform. The speakers were Rep. Sue Kelly (R-N.Y.) and Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.)

Kelly said she was optimistic that if the health plan legislation is passed by the Senate, it will be passed by the House because it is supported by Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) She said a great appeal of the proposed law is that it will allow industries like construction to develop a plan specific to its needs.

On tort reform, Rep. Kelly encouraged contractors to ask for health studies by the Centers for Disease Control related to mold exposure so that more information is available to fight lawsuits. She also talked about the need for tax relief for small businesses, like permanent repeal of the estate tax, and discussed her efforts to reduce federal bureaucracy.

Burr described the current political atmosphere in Washington as "divisive," which he says has caused an inability to consider big issues. He said the two areas of necessity in today's global economy are energy and health. He also discussed small-business health plans, and said Americans need to engage in debates on reforming Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security.