Orange County Branch Newsletter
ASCE OC Government Relations
ASCE Members Say #InfrastructureNow
By Adeleine J. Tran, P.E. | Government Relations Co-Chair
"We in America do not have government by the majority. We have government by the majority who participate." - Thomas Jefferson
Growing up, I used to bike to and from school while my parents worked from 6am until 6pm every day. Avoiding the potholes on our crumbling roads was almost like a fun daily challenge for me. Until one day, I hit a pothole and fell down. Instead of thinking about my scraped knees, my immediate concern was the financial burden that it would cost my parents to fix my damaged bike. Fast forward to now, not much has changed - however, instead of the bike, my concern was how much I would need to fix my car's flat tires.
Many of us have reasons that inspired us to study and pursue a profession in civil engineering. Maybe it was a love for math and science, a passion for architecture and innovation, or a chance encounter that led you to this path. Or, maybe, it was a pothole.
On March 12-13, 2019, I was able to sit down with Members of Congress to tell my story. During the ASCE Legislative Fly-In Event, I joined other ASCE members from all 50 states, DC, and Puerto Rico on Capitol Hill to discuss with our lawmakers the urgent need to invest in our nation’s aging infrastructure. On the first day, the Fly-In kicked off with the Young Member Program where young engineers received issue briefs, advocacy tips, and mock meeting practices from ASCE Government Relations staff and returning advocates. The day ended with a welcoming banquet where members celebrated advocacy wins across different sections and branches, followed by remarks from members of Congress across the party line.
ASCE Legislative Fly-In Event kicked off with the Younger Member Program
The next morning, ASCE Legislative Fly-In attendees played a political game as a team challenge to understand the legislative process before heading out to meet with their respective members of Congress in the afternoon. Our Congressional visits were fueled by renewed optimism after Region 9 (California) was honored by ASCE with the 2019 Outstanding Civil Engineer Advocate of the Year Group Award for our recent advocacy wins at the state level. Region 9 was recognized for our advocacy efforts in the victory of Senate Bill 1 (SB1), which increased the state gas tax in 2017, and the defeat of its repeal (No on Prop 6 campaign) in 2018. These wins at the state level show that we can make a difference - one that we hope to continue to extend to the federal level.
ASCE Region 9 was honored with the 2019 Outstanding Civil Engineer Advocate of the Year Group Award!
ASCE Region 9 civil engineering advocates met with the staff of our state’s Senator Dianne Feinstein and Senator Kamala Harris to ask for their support on the 5-cent increase on the federal gas tax for the next five years. Congress has not raised the federal gas tax since 1993, while the costs of materials and resources needed to upgrade our infrastructure keep raising. The failure to close the infrastructure investment gap consequently passes the costs to our families: $3,400/year. That’s $9/day or two trips to Starbucks!
As for me, I had the opportunity to personally sit down with my district’s representative, staff of Congressman Lou Correa, and my parents’ representative, Congresswoman Susan Davis and her staff, to share my story and open a dialogue on how we can address our district’s and our nation’s infrastructure concerns. My hope is to continue the conversation with my elected officials to bridge the gap in our infrastructure investment.
Infrastructure is the backbone of our society. As civil engineers who are responsible for the health, safety, and well-being of our society, we need to have a seat at the public policy table and let our voices be heard. We need to advocate for changes in public policy at the local, state, and federal levels so that we have the funding and support we need to fulfill our professional duty of improving the public's quality of life. After all, if we do not advocate on behalf of our own profession, who would?
Lastly, if you have not seen our ASCE OC Government Relations – May 2019 Newsletter, check it out [here]! If you want to get involved in government affairs, please reach out to us at [email protected].
I would like to extend my thanks to my fellow ASCE Orange County members who joined me on the Capitol Hill:
Elizabeth Ruedas (not pictured), MJ Hashami, Lenard Tran, Kenneth Rosenfield!
About the Author
Adeleine Tran, P.E., is a Geotechnical Engineer with Jacobs Engineering Group, Inc. As an engineer, she is passionate about advancing the profession and giving back to the community. In her other life as a food lover and travel enthusiast, she enjoys exploring new places and trying the locals’ favorite restaurants. For any inquiries or food recommendations, Adeleine can be reached via [email protected] and LinkedIn.