Be Heard, Part 2

Last week I was in Washington, DC, to accompany my wife for a conference that she was attending. While she was in sessions, I had the days to myself, and I had the obvious options to do, like going to the museums or spending time with my mother in-law (she was there with my father in-law, who was teaching at the conference), but I decided instead to follow up on the Railroad Day on Capitol Hill visits made in June with visits to six of our legislators from New Jersey who had not signed on as co-sponsors to the 45G infrastructure tax credit. I was joined in my adventure by Ashley Bosch from Chambers, Conlon, & Hartwell, which is the ASLRRA’s lobbying firm in DC, and over the seven hours we covered a lot of territory.Of the six meetings, five were on the House side, and we had one on the Senate side. The House meetings came first, and in four of the five meetings we met with a staffer, and in in one we met with Rep. Donald Payne Jr. himself, who wanted to discuss the tax credit and PTC, and his legislation that he has proposed for crude oil carrying tank cars. All of the meetings were successful on the House side, and by the time the day was done we had picked up two more co-sponsors for H.R. 721, which is the tax credit legislation, and we are still working on the others for their support. On the Senate side, the meeting was also successful, and we are still working on Sen. Booker for his support.Was the day successful? Absolutely. As I have said many times before, being heard by your representatives in Washington, DC, is important, and if they get to hear from you more than once in a year, they really start to know that you care, and also they may start to pay attention to your issues. A good example of this was one of our meetings that took place with the chief of staff of a House member who we have known for years. Before we walked in, I told Ashley that this meeting would be very quick, and we would have everything done in less than five minutes. She gave me a slightly concerned look and said ok, but I don’t think she believed me. We walked in, said our hellos, and had everything done in less than five minutes. Why? Not only did I not have to re-explain why we were there, he knew what the topics were going to be, and had the answers we needed. In fact, he needed our help, because they had been trying to reach the sponsor of H.R. 721 and were having a hard time. In the end, it was another example of how having the relationship makes these things work, and the value of a face to face meeting.By the time our time in DC was done, I did get my museum time, and yes, I did spend some time with my mother-in-law. But in addition to my “fun” time, I did get to take a little time on a rainy day to do what I could for the cause. ---By Steve Friedland
steven-fb.jpg Steve Friedland is a well-known leader in the short line industry who has devoted more than two decades to railroading. At the Morristown & Erie Railway, a 42-mile New Jersey short line, he worked in all areas of the railroad, including track, mechanical, signals, and operations. In 1999, he founded Short Line Data Systems, a provider of railroad EDI and dispatching software, AEI hardware, and management consulting to the short line industry. He currently serves as the ASLRRA representative to the AAR's Wireless Communications Committee and is chairman of the joint AAR-ASLRRA Short Line Information Improvement Committee. He also is a member of the ASLRRA's board of directors.