The Jewelers of America Political Action Committee led a JA delegation to Washington, D.C., last month to meet one-on-one with lawmakers on issues key to the industry.
It was the third consecutive year that JAPAC has done the Washington fly-in, which gives jewelers the opportunity to share their views with members of Congress. This year, discussions focused on sales tax fairness. The Marketplace Fairness Act of 2013, which the Senate passed in May, is now being considered by the House of Representatives, where if faces stronger opposition.
One participant, John Henne, president of Henne Jewelers in Pittsburgh, says he was surprised how many leaders he got to speak to.
“Last year I went for the first time as a favor,” he says. “I really enjoyed it and was surprised at the access I had. I met with my Senator.”
He says he learned from the trip that jewelers can get more involved in the political process.
“The reality is that they can,” he adds. “So many of the legislators, they can all name their local jewelers. They have an emotional connection to them. If they heard more from their local jewelers, we would have a much greater voice.”
Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., a Senate cosponsor of the Marketplace Fairness Act, met with the JAPAC group during dinner and advised them to keep pressing for passage of the bill.
“This is a critical time for jewelry businesses, with legislators seriously considering the passage of the Marketplace Fairness Act, the ongoing threat of LIFO [“last in, first out” accounting method] repeal, and the possibility of major tax reform in the near-term,” said Jewelers of America president and CEO David J. Bonaparte in a statement. “The Capitol Hill fly-in was a great opportunity to get these issues—and especially jewelers’ views on them—in front of key decision-makers in D.C.”
In addition to Bonaparte, the group also consisted of JA director of public affairs Susan Thea Posnock and members of the JAPAC board and JA’s board of directors.
JAPAC’s delegation meets with Sen. Dick Durbin (center front).