(NEW YORK) – Jewelers of America members took to Capitol Hill, meeting with lawmakers to discuss policies and issues that are impacting their businesses. The fly-in, led by the Jewelers of America Political Action Committee (JAPAC), was held on September 14. JAPAC is the only political action committee representing the fine jewelry industry in Washington, D.C.
While the association has remained very active in representing the industry throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the visit offered both first and long-time attendees the opportunity to connect in person with members of Congress, for the first time since June of 2019.
“We’re thrilled to be back in D.C. for our annual fly-in,” says JA President & CEO David J. Bonaparte. “This was a chance to re-introduce the association and our members to key policy-makers and ensure the voice of the jewelry industry is heard loud and clear.”
In addition to meetings with lawmakers, the event included a private tour of the Capitol Dome on and a breakfast presentation from Charlie Cook, former Editor-in-Chief of the Cook Political Report, who shared his sharp insights into the upcoming elections as well as the overall power dynamics in Washington, D.C. His presentation is available exclusively to Jewelers of America members.
As part of the visit, Jewelers of America shared legislative priorities and concerns with lawmakers including:
- The need for pro-growth tax policy that makes U.S. companies competitive in the global economy and provides a level playing field among all sectors of the economy and all sectors of retail.
- Ensuring that government is a positive resource and support for small businesses, versus overburdening businesses with regulations and related compliance costs.
- Government efforts to work with industry on solutions that help ensure ethical and sustainable supply chains.
Specific topics and concerns included inflation, rising interest rates, the challenges around hiring and high crime rates that have hit the industry.
Jewelers also continued to push Congress on long-time issues including the need to protect LIFO, the last-in first-out accounting method used by many in the industry and sales tax fairness, which is currently addressed on a state-by-state basis but could eventually require a federal framework.
The delegation met with several key lawmakers and congressional staff, including Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA), Sen. Todd Young (R-IN), Rep. Elise Stefanik (R, NY-21 and Republican Conference Chair) and Rep. Carol Miller (R, WV-03).
Other prominent members of Congress the group connected with included:
- Rep. Pete Sessions (R, TX-17)
- Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA)
- Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA)
- Rep. Kim Schrier, M.D. (D, WA-08)
- Rep. Marilyn Strickland (D, WA-10)
Jewelers of America Members represented a variety of jewelry firms from across the country, including:
- Jon Bridge, Ben Bridge Jeweler; Seattle, WA
- Dan Deans, Asurion; Sterling, VA
- Susan Grant, Grants Jewelry; New York, NY
- Joan Harris, Mathew J. Harris and David F. Harris of G&H Jewelers; California, MD
- Sudhir Kakadia, Sheetal Group USA INC, New York, NY
- Chuck Kuba, Owner, Iowa Diamond; West Des Moines, IA
- Constance Polamalu, Zachary’s Jewelers, Annapolis, MD
Jewelers of America also welcomed leadership from the American Gem Trade Association with new CEO John W. Ford and 1st VP David Nassi joining the fly-in.
The delegation was led by Jewelers of America President & CEO David J. Bonaparte and Director of Public Affairs & Education Susan Thea Posnock, along with Tim Haake, Managing Director of Haake & Associates, JA’s long-term government affairs firm.
To learn more about Jewelers of America legislative advocacy and JAPAC, visit jewelers.org/ja/advocacy.