Every year, during the Executive Forum and Fly-In, a delegation of member executives from Plumbing Manufacturers Intl. (PMI) travels to Washington, D.C., to bring their concerns about the water industry directly to those who can enact change on a federal level. Their goal is to create awareness of the public health and economic concerns their companies face, as well as to advocate for safe and efficient water infrastructure, fair international trade, and tax reforms that encourage investment and create growth. WQP Managing Editor Amy McIntosh asked Kerry Stackpole, CEO and executive director of PMI, about the specific issues the delegation brought to Capitol Hill as part of the September 2017 event.
Amy McIntosh: What are the goals of the PMI Executive Forum and Fly-In?
Kerry Stackpole: An industry association composed of about 40 organizations involved in plumbing manufacturing, PMI leads the way advocating for water efficiency and for safe, responsible plumbing. Each year, the Executive Forum and Fly-In gets industry leaders up to speed on business trends impacting the plumbing fixture and fittings industry. Through our visits on Capitol Hill, our members have the opportunity to share the latest industry developments, business perspectives and regulatory concerns with their elected officials. These visits have great importance for an industry that produces 90% of the nation’s plumbing products.
McIntosh: Why is it important to PMI that the WaterSense program is codified?
Stackpole: WaterSense is a great example of a successful public-private partnership that helps conserve water and delivers real results for the American people. PMI members are producing more than 20,000 plumbing fixtures that are 20% more water efficient than similar products in the marketplace while meeting high performance standards. Having WaterSense codified would assure that this win-win program has the necessary resources to deliver on the continued promise of innovative energy and water conservation while protecting public health and safety going forward.
McIntosh: What kind of tax reform legislation would be most beneficial to PMI’s members?
Stackpole: The plumbing fixture and fittings industry is a global, capital-intensive business that relies on fair trade with our allies. Retaining a robust capital cost-recovery system, such as accelerated depreciation and full expensing, to drive new investments and create new jobs would be a plus. Reducing tax rates for companies of all sizes so that plumbing manufacturers have additional resources to reinvest and grow their businesses is on our agenda, as well. Also, with so many plumbing manufacturers being family-owned, repealing the estate tax will keep these family-owned businesses operating for future generations.
In addition, PMI supports the bipartisan Water Conservation Rebate Tax Parity Act (H.R. 448/S. 1464), which would amend federal tax law to exclude homeowners from paying income tax on rebates from water utilities for water conservation improvements, including the purchase of products certified by the [U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s] WaterSense program.
McIntosh: What other issues did PMI bring to Congress this year?
Stackpole: We spent time talking trade with Congress during our visit because having fair, enforceable trade policies is vital to our members. PMI supports the modernization and improvement of [the North American Free Trade Agreement] to eliminate remaining distortions and trade barriers with Canada and Mexico. We believe standards should be raised to U.S. levels in science-based regulatory practices, transparency, competition, the protection of private property, investment overseas and intellectual property.