Luxury Jewelers Key Part Of Delegation Appealing To U.S. CongressJune 22, 2016 (0 comments)
Washington, DC—As part of the Jewelers of America Political Action Committee (JAPAC), a delegation of jewelers including some prominent luxury retailers, met with 50 lawmakers and legislative staff on June 15, in advance of the 2016 elections.
“Jewelers of America’s annual trip to Washington D.C. is a critical piece of our overall efforts to give a strong voice to the industry, because decision makers on Capitol Hill have power to influence issues that are core to jewelry businesses, like sales tax fairness,” says David J. Bonaparte, JA president and CEO.
Sales tax fairness was a top point of discussion, as it has been for many years since the proliferation of Internet shopping. Jewelers pushed for passage of legislation to level the playing field on taxation between online and brick-and-mortar businesses. Key pieces of legislation the jewelers support include the Remote Transactions Parity Act (RTPA) in the House and the Marketplace Fairness Act (MFA) in the Senate. The JAPAC delegation met with key supporters, Reps. Steve Stivers (OH), Mia Love (UT), and Ted Poe (TX), all co-sponsors of the RTPA, and Senator Richard Burr (R-NC), who voted in favor of the measure when it passed the Senate in 2013.
“We are hopeful that the tide is turning on sales tax fairness,” says JAPAC board chair Jenny Caro, owner of Jewelry by Designs in Woodbridge, VA. “However, we need the jewelry industry to come together and really push this to the finish line.” Caro and Ronda Daily of Bremer Jewelers in Peoria, IL (above left), met Rep. Darin LaHood, (IL-18), who represents Daily’s district, to work on the sales tax fairness issue as well.
In addition to Burr, Stivers, Love and Poe, the JAPAC delegation met with other prominent members of Congress, including:
- Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY)
- Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA)
- Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA)
- Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME)
- Sen. Angus King (I-ME)
- Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC)
- Rep. Pete Sessions (TX-32), Chairman of the House Rules Committee
- George Holding (NC-13), a member of the House Ways & Means Committee
- Rep. Michael Burgess (TX-26), Chairman of the Energy & Commerce Subcommittee with jurisdiction over the FTC cultured diamond issue
- Rep. Mike Bishop (MI-8), a member of the House Judiciary Committee
- Rep. Mike Kelly (PA-3), a member of the House Ways & Means Committee
The JAPAC delegation also took the opportunity to address the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)’s proposed changes to the Guides for the Jewelry, Precious Metals, and Pewter Industries. JA is opposed to a change that would allow the use of “cultured” when describing synthetic diamonds. Lawmakers expressed interest in supporting JA’s position on the FTC’s proposed changes, with Rep. Stivers noting his support and willingness to discuss with his fellow lawmakers how they might help advance the jewelry industry’s concerns about the issue.
The meetings were part of a two-day agenda that included a private tour of the U.S. Capitol building, presentations from political strategists from both sides of the aisle, and two JAPAC fundraising events.
The JAPAC delegation consisted of 11 JA members, including members of the JAPAC and JA boards of directors, executives from JA headquarters, and Christ Fetzer and Tim Haake, Major General (Ret) US Army, managing directors of Haake Fetzer, which oversees JAPAC and JA legislative advocacy efforts.
JA member jewelers in attendance included:
- Brian Alter, Alter’s Gem Jewelry, Beaumont, TX (JA member)
- Jon Bridge, Ben Bridge Jeweler; Seattle, WA (JAPAC Board)
- Jenny Caro, Jewelry by Designs; Woodbridge, VA (JAPAC Board Chair, JA Board)
- Jeff and Jim Corey, Day's Jewelers; Waterville, ME (JAPAC Board Vice Chair)
- Ronda Daily, Bremer's Jewelry; Peoria, IL (JA Member)
- Bill Farmer Jr., Farmer’s Jewelers; Lexington, KY (JAPAC Board, JA Board Immediate Past Chairman)
- Michael and Eva Greene, Wick & Greene, Asheville, NC (JA members)
- Brian Mann, David Mann Jewelers; Potomac, MD (JA Board)