Recess Conversations

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August 2018—

There’s no better time to engage with your legislators than the August recess—especially one that falls before midterm elections—and there’s no better way than to invite them to your store.

This year the Senate’s recess will be short—just the first full week of August as opposed to the whole month—even though about a third of senators are up for re-election. On the flip side, the House is in recess for the entire month of August, returning to work after Labor Day.

Once you’ve made the call, invited your legislator to your store and have a confirmed appointment—what do you do? What the heck are you going to talk about?

First, you’re going to give them a tour of your store. Talk about how many people you employ and how long you’ve been in business. Share how you’ve been selling furniture in your community so long you’re now selling to the grandkids of your original customers. Talk about the warehouse/second store/10th store you built/opened. Mention if/how the new tax laws helped your business.

And then educate them on the issues that are important to the prosperity and longevity of your business and how your company is a viable part of the economy in their state.

Consider these issues:

Marketplace Fairness

Though the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of South Dakota in the online sales tax case, the immediate fallout from the court’s decision is unknown. The new ruling will surely cause many states to create and implement out-of-state sales tax procedures and retailers should work with their local elected officials to provide input as needed in that process.

Trade

While the HFA supports holding trading partners accountable and using targeted trade remedies against intellectual property theft, illegal dumping or subsidies, and other proven trade violations, the latest $200 billion tariff list would have a negative impact on some companies in the furniture industry. China supplies 65 percent of the furniture imported into the U.S. and if all that furniture ($28 billion) carried a 10 percent tariff it would raise consumer prices across the board.

Supply chain

There are many issues that affect industry manufacturing partners and the supply chain that negatively impact your businesses, such as Hours of Service regulations, formaldehyde emissions standards for composite wood products, flammability in upholstered furniture and furniture tip-over standards. These issues also directly impact you if you manage your own deliveries and/or directly import products.

ADA website accessibility

The home furnishings industry has become a target for lawsuits related to website accessibility for blind individuals. The Department of Justice abandoned a rule-making which would set a standard. We’re asking Congressional members to urge the DOJ to re-engage and set a standard rather than the courts setting policy through rulings/settlements.

The HFA is working on these issues and more on behalf of retailers, but the best way to affect change is for constituents to contact their legislators directly. Legislators need to know how the rules and laws they’ve made or are considering affect your business, your employees and your local economy.

If you need more talking points or tips on setting up a meeting, the HFA is here to help.

About the Author

Lisa Casinger
Lisa Casinger is the government relations liaison for HFA and the editorial director for RetailerNOW. Contact her at lcasinger@myhfa.org.