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JA Members Push for Security, Credit Reform in D.C.

Jewelers of America met with lawmakers to discuss key industry issues.

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President and CEO Dave Bonaparte and JA members in front of the the U.S. Capitol. This year marks Jewelers of America ’ s 11 th Fly - In to Washington, D.C. Iowa Senator Joni Ernst met with the JA members for lunch on Wednesday. Pictured from L - R: Myriam Gumuchian, Tobey Ritchie, Joseph Molfese, Sen. Ernst, Bill Farmer Jr. and Olivier Stip. PHOTOGRAPHY: Copyright: Abby Greenawalt Photography
President and CEO Dave Bonaparte and JA members in front of the the U.S. Capitol. This year marks Jewelers of America ’ s 11 th Fly – In to Washington, D.C. Iowa Senator Joni Ernst met with the JA members for lunch on Wednesday. Pictured from L – R: Myriam Gumuchian, Tobey Ritchie, Joseph Molfese, Sen. Ernst, Bill Farmer Jr. and Olivier Stip. PHOTOGRAPHY: Copyright: Abby Greenawalt Photography

(PRESS RELEASE) NEW YORK — Jewelers of America, the national trade association for businesses serving the fine jewelry marketplace, returned to Capitol Hill, meeting with lawmakers to discuss policies and issues that are impacting their businesses. The annual fly-in, led by the Jewelers of America Political Action Committee (JAPAC), was held on Wednesday, September 13.

At the top of this year’s legislative agenda for jewelers are measures to reduce crime, which has gone up sharply over the past few years. JA members shared personal experiences, as well as key data from the Jewelers Security Alliance and Jewelers Mutual indicating the sharp increases in crime, as rates saw some of their biggest spikes in jewelry-related crime ever reported.

“Crime against jewelry businesses and customers has skyrocketed,” says Jewelers of America President & CEO David J. Bonaparte. “We wanted to ensure lawmakers understand how this issue threatens jewelers’ security and livelihoods.”

In fact, the delegation met with members of congress who have been actively pushing for stronger measures to fight rising crime. This included Rep. Young Kim, (R, CA-40) who is a sponsor of the “Improving the Federal Response to Organized Retail Crime Act of 2023,” which is one of several bipartisan bills introduced earlier this year that focus on retail crime. Kim joined the group for lunch, along with members of Republican leadership including Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) and Rep. Elise Stefanik (R, NY-21 and Republican Conference Chair). Rep. Darrell Issa (R, CA-48), who has also advocated for stronger legislation to fight crime was the guest at dinner on Wednesday night.

Other prominent members of Congress JA members 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)
  • Rep. Claudia Tenney (R, NY-24)
  • Rep. Kevin Kiley (R, CA-03)
  • Rep. Carol Miller (R, WV-01)
  • Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R, IA-01)
  • Rep. Andy Barr (R, KY-06)
  • Rep. Lori Chavez-DeRemer (R, OR-05)
  • Rep. Beth Van Duyne (R, TX-24)
  • Rep. Ken Calvert (R, CA-41)
  • Rep. Mario Diaz Balart (R, FL-25)
  • Rep. Ronny Jackson (R, TX-13)

In addition to emphasizing the need for action to fight jewelry related crime, the delegation of jewelers emphasized the following issues to Congress:

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  • The need for Credit Card Reform, with a lack of competition causing credit card swipe fees to rise year after year. This lack of competition costs American businesses and consumers an estimated $15 billion per year.
  • 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.
  • Protection of the last-in, first-out (LIFO) inventory accounting method, which is considered an attractive revenue-raising option by lawmakers. Repeal would deal a potentially fatal blow to companies in the jewelry industry that use LIFO.

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

  • Brian Alter, Alter’s Gem Jewelry, Beaumont, TX
  • Lawrence and Katy Bock, Bachendorf’s; Dallas, TX
  • Jon Bridge, Ben Bridge Jeweler; Seattle, WA
  • Trish Carruth, Your Personal Jeweler; Royal Oak, MI
  • Bill Farmer Jr., Farmer’s Jewelers; Lexington, KY
  • Myriam Gumuchian, Gumuchian; New York, NY
  • Joseph Molfese, Bella Cosa Jewelers; Willowbrook, IL (JAPAC Chair)
  • Isreal Morales, Sky Diamond Jewelers; New Windsor, NY
  • Constance Polamalu, Zachary’s Jewelers; Annapolis, MD
  • Tobey Ritchie, Harry Ritchie’s; Eugene, OR
  • Oliver Stip, CD Peacock; Oak Brook, IL

The delegation was led by Jewelers of America President & CEO David J. Bonaparte and JA’s Director of Marketing & Communications Molly Fallon, along with Tim Haake, Managing Director of Haake & Associates, JA’s long-term government affairs firm. Jewelers of America also welcomed leadership from the American Gem Trade Association as CEO John W. Ford joined the fly-in for the second year in a row.

Jewelers of America also hosted a D.C.-Member Meet-up the day before the fly-in which included a tour of the Library of Congress and a cocktail party featuring renowned political pollster Ed Goeas, President and CEO of The Tarrance Group.

Goeas shared insights from his book, “A Question of Respect: Bringing Us Together in a Deeply Divided Nation,” co-authored by his frequent collaborator from across the aisle, Celinda Lake.

To learn more about Jewelers of America legislative advocacy and JAPAC, visit here.

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