Feature by Jeannine Alexander, CPSM
McMillen Jacobs staff Sarah Wilson, Martino Scialpi, Sam Swartz, and Chris Nelsen attended the 2022 Legislative Fly-In meetings, held by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) in Washington DC on March 2–3, 2022. Sarah, Martino, and Sam attended through UCA of SME,1 and Chris through ASCE.
ASCE hosted constituents from around the country in the nation’s capital to advocate for common interests and goals, allowing for citizens to participate in advocacy efforts with Congress and federal agencies creating laws and regulations. Constituents were encouraged to use best practices to show support, ask for change, tell stories, share ideas, and provide information to legislative staff.
ASCE coordinates and arranges meetings between advocates and the offices of U.S. Senators and Representatives. Sarah met with California delegates, Sam with Illinois delegates, Martino with Washington DC delegates, and Chris with Maryland delegates. The program featured several all-star speakers, including Dr. Geraldine Richmond, the U.S. Undersecretary for Science and Innovation; and two supporters of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA),2 U.S. Representative Josh Gottheimer from New Jersey and U.S. Senator Rob Portman from Ohio.
ASCE priorities around the IIJA implementation were on the agenda. These include:
- Supporting projects that are dedicated to maintaining and improving existing assets
- Incentivizing asset management plans and life cycle cost analysis
- Encouraging the use of the most up to date code and standards
- Providing technical assistance to rural and disadvantaged communities to guarantee an equal playing field for competitive grants
- Dedicating resources to grow the workforce pipeline
- Streamlining the engineering contracting process
“A few hours into the meeting, no matter the state we were representing and the different things we were advocating, it was absolutely clear to everyone that we can’t miss the once-in-a-generation opportunity to participate in what could well be a new engineering era in this country,” stated Martino Scalpi, who was inspired by the ambitious scope of the IIJA. “And what makes this whole prospect even more exciting is that we’re talking about building not only what is urgently needed right now. We’re raising the bar for building meaningful infrastructure that will be sustainable and able to deal with climate change and its challenges, and we want to do it in a way that creates innovation, jobs, and equity for generations to come.”
Moving forward, McMillen Jacobs’ representatives will continue to work with ASCE in liaising with members of Congress to advocate for underground infrastructure.
1 Underground Construction Association of the Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration.
2 The IIJA is a United States federal statute enacted by the 117th United States Congress and signed into law by President Joe Biden on November 15, 2021. It is an act to authorize funds for federal-aid highways, highway safety programs, and transit programs, and for other purposes. For more information, see https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2021/08/02/updated-fact.