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10 SMT Magazine • February 2014 The members of Congress loved that and almost always welcomed our letters or our phone calls as well as our visits during Capitol Hill Days. In fact, there were a few larger organizations with common interests around certain rules or up-coming legislation, which lent their support but let IPC take the lead precisely because of the makeup of our industries. Back then, IPC hired the lobbying firm Wayne Sayer and Associates to represent the industry in Washington. Sayer's team would present our position regarding regulations and review new legislation affecting the industry. They also organized the Capitol Hill Day events, which included lobbying training, preparation for visits with our representatives as well as the specific issue we'd be presenting during the vis- its to the Hill. Each member had meetings with their representatives in the House and Senate. It was quite enlightening to most of us who'd never done anything like this before. I would encourage everyone in the industry to support the next Capitol Hill Day event. It's quite an ex- perience. Within a few years, IPC realized they needed their own people on the ground in D.C., which began a new era as we became directly involved in the policy-making. We had a seat at just about every table. Most in Congress knew who we were, what we were about and, more impor- tantly, who we represented. In fact, by then, our industry's companies had invited quite a few of their representatives to tour their factories. Now, when we had an issue with a regulation or piece of legislation, we had the ear of Congress. In fact, one of our member companies, South Da- kota-based Electronics Systems Inc. and its CEO, Leo Reynolds, forged a strong relationship with then-Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota, which brought our issues to the forefront. We gained a lot of ground back then. Since the mid-'90s, the industry has done a lot to stay active in governmental processes. It's hard to quantify the dollars associated with our inaction in the '80s and '90s, but we did miss the boat with NAFTA and lead-free legisla- tion. Not having a seat at the table for those two issues alone has certainly cost the industry dearly. Of course, RoHS wasn't a U.S. initiative, but IPC definitely should have been at the ta- ble. We might have been able to steer the ship a bit. I wonder what would have happened if IPC, along with the other electronics associa- tions, had leveraged their clout in Congress and had just said "no." I know what happened with NAFTA. We didn't have the systems in place to be able to address our concerns to the govern- ment back then. They asked, but received no input from us. Regarding lead-free, we were just asleep at the switch. On the positive side, IPC's efforts in support of equipment depreciation along with minor tweaks in regulations and legislation have saved the industry quite a bit over the years. As an active industry player, IPC has certainly upped our stature and has been able to influence at least some of the things coming our way. Before the mid-'90s we had no voice. And maybe that's what IPC's founding fathers originally wanted— to stay under the radar, focusing on standards. Back then we were dumping most of our waste down the drain or, in the case of a few really bad actors, into creeks behind our factories. For me, a PAC has a negative connotation. It's buying votes instead of leveraging the grass- roots power we have as an industry. It cheapens us. Now, instead of being an industry of small businesses (which we mostly are), we push that aside in the minds of our representatives and regulators and join the likes of IBM, Dell, Cis- co and Google (Motorola), the AEA and SIA. It seems to me a better course of action would be to encourage our member companies to donate to their representatives based on IPC recom- mendations, but keep the IPC out of PACs so that it can remain "pure," without "blemish." Couldn't we take that PAC money and use it to strengthen our team in D.C. instead? What would bring the greatest return? Let me know what you think. SMT ThE wAY I SEE IT ray rasmussen is the publisher and chief editor for I-Connect007 Publications. he has worked in the industry since 1978 and is the former publisher and chief editor of Circuitree Magazine. To read past columns, or to contact rasmussen, click here. IPC FOrMS a PaC continues

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