Visiting with Virginia Lenahan are, from left, George Jackson, Chuck Manchion and Bruce Korn.

Capitol Hill was undoubtedly one of the busiest places on earth Wednesday as lawmakers examined the new tax plan, hammered out a budget-funding extension and took time to meet with nearly 80 member volunteers and staff in town for PPAI’s Legislative Education And Action Day (L.E.A.D.).

Delegations from 20 states and five regional associations held dozens of meetings Wednesday with elected officials and their staffs on a number of key industry issues including the proposed border adjustment tax, advertising deductions and the economic status of the promotional products industry as a thriving business sector and a major source of employment.

Mark Shinn, MAS (left), and Dan Reading call on Rep. Mike Simpson (R-ID).

Three members of the Pennsylvania delegation—Bruce Korn, president of Zakback, Inc., George Jackson, owner of George Jackson Promotions, Inc. and Chuck Manchion, senior vice president of ASI—visited the office of Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) and met with legislative correspondent Virginia Lenahan. “The biggest takeaway I had was that Sen. Casey very much wants to work for small businesses in a bipartisan way,” says Korn, noting that a discussion on the BAT and advertising deductions is on hold pending a White House budget proposal. “By and large though, there is agreement that the BAT is not in the best interests of Americans and businesses of all sizes who work with imported goods.”

Dan Reading, vice president at In The Bag Promotions, visited several of his Idaho officials as part of the delegation from Northwest Promotional Marketing Association. “It was a great start to L.E.A.D. with a flurry of meetings with our senators and representatives,” he says. “There was a lot of buzz about the border adjustment tax, but it died down a bit after President Trump’s tax proposal was published. It is still an issue we will talk about in our meetings, as these things never seem to really go away.” Reading said he was also surprised to see one of his customer’s logos on another visitor’s business card. “It was a logo of a company that we did a t-shirt order for just last week!” he says. “It made for a great opener to the power of promotional products in my meeting.”

Celebrating a great day on the Hill are (clockwise from left) Dan Reading, Melissa Weber, Bruce Korn, Chuck Manchion, Dani Smith, Nancy Jolly and Brad Ness.

Another participant, Brad Ness, president at S&S Promotional Group in Fargo, North Dakota, began the day by attending a weekly breakfast held by Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) and then had a productive meeting with Tyler Hardy, a staff member in the office of Sen. John Hoeven (R-ND). “The senator is a strong advocate for small business,” says Ness. “We reviewed the independent contractor situation and how independent contractors are beneficial to North Dakota business. We also discussed BAT and the other topics important to our industry.”

He also met with Alex McIntyre in the office of Congressman Kevin Cramer (R-ND) and was pleased to hear that the congressman is a supporter of the industry’s issues. “He is leading the effort on healthcare reform and is a tireless supporter for small business,” adds Ness.

Brad Ness heard Sen. Al Franken during a breakfast presentation.

Devin Martin, account manager at Advance Corporation in Minnesota, joined Ness for a visit to the office of Sen. John Thune (R-SD), and they met with senior staff counsel Mark Warren. Martin says, “He was very familiar with our industry and the issues we are talking about, having worked on the CAMP bill a few years back.”

Before beginning Wednesday’s afternoon appointments, L.E.A.D. volunteers gathered for lunch and to hear a presentation on tax reform and small business by Paula Calimafde, a partner at Paley Rothman in Bethesda, Maryland, and chair of the Small Business Council of America.

Tyler Hardy and Brad Ness wrap up their visit outside Rep. Kevin Cramer’s office.

The first day of L.E.A.D. wrapped up with small-group dinners at several local restaurants where volunteers shared the details of the day’s experiences and conversations, and prepared for a second round of meetings on Thursday. Over the two-day event, volunteers and staff had nearly 250 meetings scheduled. This is the eighth year for the annual event which has expanded in participation and impact since its inception.

Industry members across the country can also chime in on the issues by clicking on L.E.A.D. Virtual Fly-In and sharing their thoughts with their legislators.

Watch for Tuesday’s PPB Newslink for a full report on L.E.A.D. and check out photos and updates as they happen throughout the day on PPAI’s Facebook page.