By Michelle Graff
A photo of the group who participated in last week’s fly-in in front of the Capitol building in Washington, D.C. Among those who visited D.C. was first-time fly-in participant Dan Deans of Asurion who said: “If we do not meet with lawmakers to advocate for our industry, other competing interests will, and they will win the day.”
After the election in November, I had a conversation with a close friend who is decidedly non-partisan--meaning, in her case, that she sees an equal amount of fault in both parties in power and voted for neither Clinton nor Trump--but also extremely politically active.

She does organizing in poor communities nationwide for a New York City-based organization called the Poverty Initiative and is currently working on a documentary, “America Will Be.”

In that conversation, my friend told me that she had considered posting a status update on Facebook reminding people that no matter who they voted for, they need to stay on the politicians in office to make sure they do what we elected them to do.

Though she ultimately decided against sharing this thought on Facebook, the conversation is one that has stayed with me and was brought to the fore again last week when I traveled to Washington, D.C. with Jewelers of America (which owns this fine publication) to attend a dinner with Maj. Gen. Tim Haake and Chris Fetzer. (Haake and Fetzer are D.C.-based attorneys who lobby in Washington on behalf of JA and its members.)

The dinner was part of a two-day fly-in in which JA gave retailers and suppliers the chance to learn about the issues affecting business and meet lawmakers.
At the dinner, Haake and Fetzer ran down the list of issues currently on the table that would impact independent jewelers, chief among them the ongoing battle to do something about internet sales tax collection, the seemingly now-dead Border Adjustment Tax and revisions to the FTC guides for jewelry.

For those who might have missed it, bills that would give states the power to force online retailers to collect sales tax are in play again in both the U.S. House and Senate. The bills were reintroduced by Rep. Kristi Noem (R-South Dakota) and Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyoming), respectively, and have a total of 20 sponsors, 10 in each house.

There’s also an opposing bill in the House.

Earlier this month, Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) introduced the “No Regulation Without Representation” Act, which would prohibit states from imposing sales tax requirements on businesses with no physical presence in the state. The bill has nine cosponsors so far: Reps. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), Scott DesJarlais (R-Tenn.), Tom McClintock (R-Calif.), Glenn Grothman (R-Wisc.), Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), K. Michael Conway (R-Texas), David A. Trott (R-Mich.), Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) and Colin C. Peterson (D-Minn.).

JA, which has the fine jewelry industry’s only political action committee in JAPAC, has been lobbying in Washington for sales tax “fairness” for years, and also was one of many retail groups to come out against the BAT.

I know that there are others in the industry that feel differently about these issues; Jewelry Television, for instance, has spoken out in support of Sensenbrenner’s bill and there were manufacturers that were for the Border Adjustment Tax.

So, this isn’t an article to express my political opinions or to get you, the reader, to try to see these issues one way or another.

Rather, it’s a reminder that if there are things you’d like to see change, then tell the people who were elected to represent you.

On a national level, you can use JA’s Legislative Action Center. If you don’t know who represents you in Congress, it will tell you.

Congress will be in session for the rest of the week, out next week for the Fourth of July holiday, and then back in session the following week until July 28.

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Since 1906, National Jeweler has been the must-read news source for smart jewelry professionals--jewelry retailers, designers, buyers, manufacturers, and suppliers. From market analysis to emerging jewelry trends, we cover the important industry topics vital to the everyday success of jewelry professionals worldwide. National Jeweler delivers the most urgent jewelry news necessary for running your day-to-day jewelry business here, and via our daily e-newsletter, website and other specialty publications, such as "The State of the Majors." National Jeweler is published by Jewelers of America, the leading nonprofit jewelry association in the United States.