Wednesday was PBA Lobby Day, the main event I flew to D.C. to attend. We split into groups as determined by geography (With NAILS Magazine being based in Southern California, I was in the California-Nevada group), and each group met with about six Congresspeople and/or their staffs to talk about the pending tax tip legislation that could really help salon owners.
After the first one or two meetings (which were set up ahead of time by the PBA), I really felt like I was getting into a good groove with being able to contribute to the discussion and talk about how the legislation would really help our readers (especially all of you nail salon owners out there). My group met mostly with the Congresspeople’s staffs (such as legislative aids), as the Congresspeople themselves were in and out of votes all day and had other scheduling conflicts. The PBA told us during our morning prep meeting that this was standard and that these staff members really do have the ear of their boss and will take back their assessment of the bill and our leave-behind materials (such as letters written by constituents in their district) for evaluation, hopefully leading to these Congresspeople signing on. We were especially interested in our meetings with Ways & Means Committee members, as that is the committee that advises the rest of Congress on tax-related bills and whether they should pass.
I was happy that all of the people we met with seemed genuinely interested in the bill. All of them took notes during our meetings, and many had astute questions to ask. We did pretty well answering their questions (we’d done a mock run-through that morning, including answers to potential questions), and the ones we weren’t able to fully answer during the meeting will be followed up on by Venn Strategies, a public affairs firm that PBA is working with to develop its lobbying strategy.
For those of you who subscribe to NAILS Magazine, be sure to check out our September issue for an even more detailed account on Lobby Day and associated events. For now, here’s a sampling of my photos from the day. Overall, it was a really amazing experience to be able to be a part of our government in action. Many of the PBA members who participated in Lobby Day (including salon owners, beauty product manufacturers, and beauty product distributors) were repeat participants, telling me that once you participate in this event it’s addictive and you want to come back again.
Also, if you weren’t able attend Lobby Day but you feel that the tax tip legislation should pass, I encourage you to send a letter to your Congresspeople. They love to hear from their constituents, and your letter could be the one that convinces them to sign onto the bill. The PBA even has a draft letter you can use as a starting point: You can access that here.
My team was led by Brad Masterson (left), who is co-founder of Y Public Relations and handles PR for the PBA, and included (from left to right) Melanie Kopeikin of distributor People in Beauty, myself, and Eric Schwartz of nail products company OPI.
The one Congressman my team did get to directly meet during Lobby Day is Rep. Howard Berman (right), who represents the district that includes OPI’s corporate headquarters. Here he poses with Eric Schwartz of OPI; the two had actually met many previous times, as OPI is active in its community.
We also got to meet with the staff of Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, who is the representative for my home district in Long Beach. His office was full of Southern California references, including two surfboards mounted to the wall.
Harlan Kirschner (right) of distributor The Kirschner Group Inc. was in a PBA board meeting for much of the day, but he was able to join us for the last few meetings. After all of our Lobby Day meetings were done, my group also was able to enter the House of Representatives gallery (thanks to tickets provided by Rep. Berman), where we watched a debate about a bill. (It was like watching C-Span live, which is actually much more exciting than it probably sounds!)
That night the Professional Beauty Federation, held its annual Welcome to Our World event, in which Congresspeople and their staffs are invited to get manicures, haircuts, make-up applications, and other beauty services. It’s a great way for them to learn more about our industry. All of the beauty professionals at this event volunteer their time for the cause, and OPI donated the products. Here I am getting a manicure from Shirley Schote, an account manager with OPI.