Getting political

Features - Snow and Ice

The ASCA rallies contractors to lobby for industry awareness and legislative change in New Jersey and Illinois.

June 11, 2014
Mike Zawacki

Following the success of last July’s Day on the Hill event in Washington D.C., the Accredited Snow Contractors Association has been very busy with follow-up lobbying efforts in both New Jersey and Illinois. “We came away from July’s Day on the Hill with a lot of positive momentum in our favor,” says ASCA Executive Director Kevin Gilbride.

“During that event, we learned quickly that our elected officials were not up to speed on the issues that are important to professional snow and ice managers, including the un-level playing field when it comes to frivolous slip-and-fall claims.”

ASCA members recognized the importance of maintaining that forward momentum and the need to not only follow-up with elected officials, but to bring that same lobbying effort to state-level elected officials, Gilbride says.

The ASCA first targeted New Jersey in late May because of its key relationship with Jody Shilan and Gail Wolcott from the New Jersey Landscape Contractor Association.

With nearly 30 contractors in attendance, the goal for the day was to create awareness of the issues that snow and ice management companies face, especially as they pertain to insurance.

“Frankly, we expected some resistance and some negative push back,” Gilbride says. “After all, this is New Jersey. They are on the watch list as a ‘Legislative Hellhole.’”

The contractor contingent met with Senator Gerry Cardinale, N.J. 39th Legislative District; Senate President Stephen M. Sweeney; and State Senator Kevin O’Toole, N.J. 40th Legislative District.

“We walked away from the day feeling we not only accomplished our goal, but even gained ground and awareness with some key influencers in the New Jersey Senate,” Gilbride says. “Our hope is, with continued work, we will come to agreements on a number of our issues and get something positive done.”

In Springfield, Ill., nearly two dozen ASCA members and contractors met with elected officials in April to bring awareness to issues impacting Illinois snow and ice managers.

“Illinois was a great experience for those involved,” Gilbride says. “We were able to bring a lot of knowledge about industry issues to our meetings with Illinois officials.

“What we were able to take away was a greater understanding that there is a certain disconnect with people’s perceptions about the important winter service the professional snow and ice management industry provides society. I also believe that we were able to bring a greater understanding that many of the issues we, as an industry, are championing are, for the most part, small business issues, as well,” Gilbride continued.

“I’m confident our elected official recognizes the important role small businesses play in our country’s economic engine.” The ASCA has tentative plans for similar legislative days in Harrisburg, Pa., Albany, N.Y. and Boston.

“The ASCA understands the issues affecting our industry, including poorly written laws and the high insurance costs that come with them,” Gilbride says. “We’re heading to your state capitol to build awareness. That’s why it’s so important you join together with your industry peers to present a unified front to your elected officials on both the state and federal levels,” he adds.

“We will explain how the laws are negatively impacting your business and our industry, and propose changes that will protect your business.


The author is the editor of Snow magazine.