New APWA task force offers benefits, expands member advocacy opportunities

Jim Fahey
Director of Government Relations
APWA Washington Office

The past year has been a particularly significant one with regard to the range of public works issues raised not only in Washington, but also in state capitals and in cities and counties throughout the nation. Investment in transportation and in drinking water and wastewater infrastructure, emergency preparedness, homeland security and management of the public rights-of-way were just several of the dominant infrastructure issues shaped by new concerns over infrastructure protection, and by the return of budgetary shortfalls and daily reports of an economy struggling to regain its footing.

As these and other infrastructure issues found their way on the public policy agenda in 2002, APWA continued to expand its advocacy outreach to ensure that the public works voice was heard and will continue to be heard on these and other infrastructure issues well into the future.

APWA Legislative Advocacy Task Force—mobilizing advocacy in the public interest
This summer, Richard Ridings as APWA President launched a new grassroots advocacy initiative called the Legislative Advocacy Task Force (LATF). Open to all APWA members, LATF is a growing network for mobilizing a coordinated and unified public works advocacy response as infrastructure policy issues are considered by elected leaders. The task force is strengthening APWA's advocacy voice at the national, state, provincial and local levels, and offers a new opportunity for APWA members to expand their advocacy involvement in policy issues of interest to APWA.

All APWA members interested in joining LATF are invited to do so at any time. Joining is easy. Visit APWA's website, www.apwa.net, and click on the icon, "Join the APWA Legislative Advocacy Task Force." A member ID number is required for enrollment, which can be looked up on the website if necessary. All new LATF members receive a certificate of presidential appointment.

LATF members benefit with up-to-date information and action alerts
LATF members enjoy the benefit of receiving information and updates that help them better understand, and anticipate, governmental actions affecting public works. Members automatically become subscribers to APWA's infoNOW Government Affairs Community, a source for legislative and regulatory information sent via e-mail. In addition, as action is needed on a public works issue, LATF members receive background information, updates and alerts with a request to contact elected leaders or policymakers. LATF members respond by expressing APWA policy positions on given issues through letters and phone calls.

All the tools and resources needed for effective advocacy are readily accessible to LATF members on APWA's government affairs webpage. Letters to members of Congress can be sent easily and instantly using APWA's Legislative Action Center. E-mail alerts and notifications sent to LATF members include convenient links for seamless access directly to the Legislative Action Center.

Members in Canada receive information, alerts and updates unique to public works in Canada via the new Canadian Public Works infoNOW Community, which links all Canadian Public Works Association members for advocacy and information purposes.

A growing network of advocates helping make a difference
Membership in LATF opens the door to a unique opportunity to become part of a growing network of public works advocates, APWA members who are committed to ensuring that public policy decisions take into account the value and necessity of public infrastructure. With such important issues ahead as the reauthorization of the federal surface transportation act, or TEA-21, the future of water infrastructure funding and the increasing need to protect vulnerable infrastructure, the opportunities for expanded advocacy involvement will surely grow, and so, too, the satisfaction that goes along with helping make a difference.

For more information about the APWA Legislative Advocacy Task Force, contact the APWA Washington Office at 202-408-9541.