Last updateTue, 19 Mar 2019 7pm

Jewelers bring industry messages to Capitol Hill

JA members met with key lawmakers during annual advocacy visit

JA websiteThe JAPAC Delegation included (l-r): Susan Purnell, Susan Thea Posnock, Jenny Caro, David Bonaparte, Jon Bridge, Robert Moeller, Ronda Daily, Tim Haake, Valerie Nelson, Margeaux Plaisted, Linus Drogs, Keith Adwar, Corey Johnston, Nirav Doshi, Bill Farmer Jr., Will Bonaparte, Dan Deans, Pete Engel, Brian Alter, Mark Hanna, Richard Saxon, Joseph Molfese, Chuck Kuba and Marc Green. Photo courtesy of Abby Greenawalt.

(NEW YORK) - The Jewelers of America Political Action Committee (JAPAC) led a delegation of jewelers to Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, June 20, for the eighth consecutive year. The group met with lawmakers less than 24 hours before the U.S. Supreme Court announced a key decision on sales tax fairness, overturning the Quill decision that established the current system under which states are prohibited from collecting sales taxes from sellers that do not have a physical presence in-state, clearing the way for sales tax fairness to be established.

“Jewelers of America fights to protect retail jewelers. Sales tax fairness is just one of the important issues that is imperative to our members’ long-term success. Our overriding message to Congress was that they need to pass federal sales tax fairness legislation, regardless of the Supreme Court decision,” says JA President & CEO David J. Bonaparte. “With the case in the news and on the radar, it was an opportune time for JA to get that message out. We are thrilled that the Court has offered a path to level the playing field between online and traditional retailers and we want Congress to take the next step.”

As in past years, the delegation met with a number of key lawmakers and congressional staff - including Senator John Thune (R-SD), who met with the group on Wednesday night.

“It remains critical for jewelers to speak up,” says JAPAC Board Chair Jenny Caro, owner of Jewelry by Designs in Woodbridge, VA. “We can’t have an impact if we don’t show up. We were pleased to have one of our largest delegations attend this year.”

First-time attendee Richard Saxon of R. E. Saxon Jeweler in Weirton, WV, was proud to have an opportunity to support the industry on key issues. “I believe we jewelers helped by giving back to the jewelry profession we all truly love,” he says. “I came home and heard the good news from the Supreme Court and was very proud to know my membership in Jewelers of America is working for the betterment of jewelers.”

In addition to sales tax fairness, jewelers continued to push Congress to protect LIFO, the last-in first-out accounting method used by many in the industry. Jewelers won a key victory in the fight to preserve LIFO last year, when repeal was kept out of tax reform. Also on the agenda was JA’s challenge to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to update its requirements regarding use of the “Made in USA” label. While the FTC currently asserts that the point of origin of the materials needed to manufacture jewelry is the only consideration required when determining whether the jewelry can receive the “Made in USA” label, JA believes the FTC should update its standards to reflect other factors related to jewelry crafted in America.

In addition to Senator Thune, the JAPAC delegation connected with other prominent members of Congress, including:

  • Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA)
  • Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA)
  • Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA)
  • Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA)
  • Rep. Steve Stivers (OH-15), Chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee and a member of the Financial Services Committee; Original Co-sponsor, Remote Transactions Parity Act of 2017
  • Rep. Barbara Comstock (VA-10), member of the U.S. Joint Economic Committee
  • Rep. Gerry Connolly (VA-11)
  • Rep. Bruce Poliquin (ME-2), member of the Financial Services Committee
  • Rep. Claudia Tenney (NY-22)
  • Rep. Erik Paulsen (MN-3), member of the Ways & Means Committee

The fly-in participants also heard a presentation from political strategist Ed Goeas, President of The Terrance Group, who shared insights on the upcoming midterm elections.

Jewelers of America Members represented a variety of jewelry firms from across the country, including:

  • Keith Adwar, Adwar Casting; Rockville Center, NY
  • Brian Alter, Alter’s Gem Jewelry; Beaumont, TX
  • Jon Bridge, Ben Bridge Jeweler; Seattle, WA
  • Jenny Caro, Jewelry by Designs; Woodbridge, VA
  • Ronda Daily, Bremer’s Jewelry;  Peoria, IL
  • Dan Deans, Asurion, Sterling; VA
  • Nirav Doshi, Jewelex Group; New York, NY
  • Linus Drogs, Au Enterprises; Berkley, MI
  • Pete Engel, Fred Meyer Jewelers; Portland, OR
  • Bill Farmer Jr., Farmer’s Jewelers; Lexington, KY
  • Marc Green, Lux Bond & Green; West Hartford, CT
  • Mark Hanna, Richline Group; New York, NY
  • Corey Johnston, Day’s Jewelers; Waterville, ME
  • Chuck Kuba, Iowa Diamond; West Des Moines, IA
  • Robert Moeller, R.F. Moeller Jeweler, Inc.; Saint Paul, MN
  • Joseph Molfese, Bella Cosa Jewelers; Willowbrook, IL
  • Susan Purnell, Kuhn’s Jewelers, Inc.; Salisbury, MD
  • Richard Saxon, R. E. Saxon Jeweler; Weirton, WV

Jewelers of America President & CEO David J. Bonaparte and Director of Public Affairs & Education Susan Thea Posnock led the delegation along with Tim Haake, Managing Director of Haake & Associates, JA’s long-term government affairs firm and Dentons Managing Director Valerie Nelson and Dentons Managing Director Margeaux Plaisted.

To learn more about Jewelers of America legislative advocacy and JAPAC, the only PAC that supports the fine jewelry industry in Washington, D.C., visit www.jewelers.org/ja/advocacy.