Pictured, left to right: Jennifer Mendez, CRI; Joe Yarbrough, Mohawk; Russ Delozier, J&J; GA Rep. Tom Graves; Werner Braun, CRI; Rick Hooper, Shaw; Joe Foye, Mohawk; Kathi Dutilh, Milliken; Brian Anderson and Phyllis Stephens, Dalton-Whitfield Chamber of Commerce. Photo courtesy of CRI.

The Carpet and Rug Institute has reported that on Wednesday and Thursday, March 7-8, a group representing the carpet industry and the North Georgia business community traveled to Washington, D.C. for CRI's annual Hill Visits and Legislative reception.

Designed to give carpet and area business leaders the opportunity to speak directly with lawmakers about pressing issues, attendees for this year's delegation included Werner Braun and Jennifer Mendez from CRI, Rick Hooper with Shaw Industries, Joe Foye and Joe Yarborough, Mohawk, Russ Delozier, J&J Industries, Kathi Dutilh, Milliken and Brian Anderson and Phyllis Stephens, Dalton-Whitfield Chamber of Commerce.   

During their two-day visit, the delegation met jointly with Georgia Senators Johnny Isakson (R-GA) and Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), and with Georgia representatives Austin Scott (GA-8), Phil Gingrey (GA-11), Rob Woodall (GA-7), Tom Graves (GA-9), John Barrow (GA-12), David Scott (GA-13), Lynn Westmoreland (GA-3), Jack Kingston (GA-1), Hank Johnson (GA-4) and Paul Broun (GA-10). The group also met with legislative staff Kyle Zepley, policy advisor for Rep. Tom Price (GA-6) and Erin Daly, legislative aide to Rep. Sanford Bishop (GA-2).

In addition to conversations with Georgia lawmakers, the group spoke with leaders from other states, including Rep. Martha Roby from Alabama (AL-2), California Representatives Dan Lungren (CA-3) and Brian Bilbray (CA-50), South Carolina representatives Joe Wilson (SC-2) and Jim Clyburn (SC-6) and Tennessee Representative Chuck Fleischmann (TN-3). The group met with several high-level staff, representing Florida Congressman Jeff Miller (FL-1), Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) of Alabama, and Tennessee Senators Bob Corker and Lamar Alexander.

On Wednesday afternoon, the group continued their tradition of hosting a "Salute to the 112th Congress" in the Capitol Building. Among topics discussed with legislators were ideas for re-energizing the housing market and the effects of uncertainty about taxes, energy policy and regulation on economic recovery for the carpet industry and North Georgia region.

Rick Hooper, Shaw Industries' Chief Counsel, who has taken part in the annual Capitol Hill visits for the past four years, commented: "Busy work schedules make the trip difficult, but it is important to take the time to advocate for our industry. Our message was clear and it was delivered - we are working hard to create a better future for our customers, our employees, our companies, and our communities."