SOCMA’s Annual Washington Fly-In

Members of the Chemical Society Advocate for Policies Supporting Competitiveness and Market Expansion

11.02.2014 -

Industry Politics - With more than 90 new elected officials in the U.S. Congress this year, chemical executives rallied in the nation's capital on April 10 to better educate lawmakers about the specialty chemical industry and advocate for policies that support the industry's competitiveness and market expansion.

Members of the Society Of Chemical Manufacturers And Affiliates (SOCMA) convened in Washington for SOCMA CONNECTS's Sixth Annual Washington Fly-In - an opportunity for industry representatives to influence the future direction of chemical policy through face-to-face meetings with lawmakers and their staff.

More than 30 SOCMA members from across the country met with 65 congressional offices. Participants met personally with several Congress members including Senator James Inhofe (R-OK), Representatives John Barrow (D-GA), Steve Stivers (R-OH), Pat Tiberi (R-OH), Steve Stockman (R-TX) and Scott Perry (R-PA).

"As a highly innovative industry, specialty chemical manufacturers are strongly concerned about the stifling affect regulations can have on job creation and economic growth," said SOCMA President and CEO Lawrence D. Sloan. "It is now more important than ever to ensure that the economic impacts of regulations are given equal weight to the perceived benefits of those regulations."

 The Cost of Federal Regulations

According to an August 2012 study by the Manufacturers Alliance for Productivity and Innovation, chemical manufacturing output could decrease 9 - 10% on average over the next decade because of the cost of federal regulations. SOCMA members told lawmakers that the more time they spend complying with regulations, the less they have to spend on conducting research and development activities and developing innovative products that expand their businesses.

In addition to concerns about the impact of regulations, SOCMA members advocated for passage of the Miscellaneous Tariff Bill and support for the establishment of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership with the European Union. Fly-In participants also urged Congress to reauthorize the nation's chemical security program, strengthen the research and development tax credit and support carefully tailored fixes to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).

"With the exception of regulatory reform, I think many of the issues specific to our industry were not at the forefront of their concerns," said Bimax President Ron Kreis, who returned to Washington for his fourth Fly-in. "So it was a good opportunity to reinforce issues like the research tax credit, TSCA reform, trade and other issues of particular importance to us."

 R&D Tax Credit

The federal research and development tax credit, which is used by companies of all sizes, was another issue raised by SOCMA members. Because of the highly innovative nature of specialty manufacturing, much research and investment are devoted to developing products before they are sold.  Members explained that an on-again, off-again credit influences companies' future R&D budgets, particularly when manufactures are courted by other countries with more generous and permanent R&D tax incentives and lower corporate tax rates.

One SOCMA member told his representative that the R&D tax credit funds one third to one half of his company's Ph.D. chemists, and Congress needs to make the credit permanent. 

Members also took the opportunity to voice their opposition to legislation introduced that day in the U.S. Senate to overhaul TSCA. The Safe Chemicals Act, introduced by Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), would be nearly impossible to implement for both manufacturers and the US Environmental Protection Agency.

"Most stakeholders agree that TSCA can be improved," said Bill Allmond, SOCMA's Vice President of Government and Public Relations. "To be successful, legislation must strike an appropriate balance between improving the public's confidence in chemicals in commerce without hamstringing the innovation for which our industry is well known and on which the public relies."

 Alternative TSCA Reform Bill

SOCMA members also met with the staff of Senator David Vitter (R-LA), who is working on an alternative TSCA reform bill that should garner bipartisan support. They shed light on how the 37-year-old law could potentially have a stifling effect on the ability for small and mid-sized companies to be competitive and expand their markets. They spoke to the need for carefully tailored fixes to the statute and how lawmakers should not emulate Europe's REACh. They also pointed out that the current model used to treat pesticides would also be inappropriate for industrial chemicals.

Several lawmakers also agreed to make plans to continue talks with members in their home state during member facility site visits.

In conjunction with this year's event, SOCMA also hosted a "Virtual Fly-In" for members unable to make the trip to Washington. Members send nearly 100 electronic letters to their representatives, rounding off a week of advocacy activities.

SOCMA's advocacy week activities are organized by the association's grassroots arm, SOCMA CONNECT, which supports and encourages members to shape the laws affecting specialty chemical manufacturers.




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