March 01, 2017
The Power of Influence
by Brian Bennett
DSA’s mission is to police, promote and protect its members, thereby ensuring a landscape in which direct selling companies can operate effectively and ethically while protecting consumers from bad actors. There are a myriad of actions in national, state and local government that could either harm or support direct selling. As the advocate and voice for the business channel, DSA has established strong working relationships with legislators and other officials at all levels of government and from both sides of the political aisle to ensure that government action supports direct selling. As we move into the third month of the new Administration and Congress, DSA’s robust legislative action plan for 2017 is well underway.
DSA is planning a briefing for the Congressional Direct Selling Caucus early in the new Congress, which will include discussions on consumer protection, independent contractor status, and the socioeconomic impact of direct selling. The Direct Selling Caucus, launched in the previous Congress and co-chaired by Reps. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) and Marc Veasey (D-TX), is a bipartisan forum to build greater understanding of direct selling and discuss policy issues relevant to the channel.
Additionally, DSA will participate in a briefing with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus to discuss direct selling’s impact on the Hispanic community, and will schedule a briefing with the Congressional Black Caucus in the near future regarding matters of importance to direct selling.
To help DSA underscore the value of direct selling and the opportunities it offers millions of Americans, it is important for member company executives to meet with members of Congress and the Administration. To establish these connections, DSA will host a briefing in Washington, D.C., this coming fall, where members can convey to influential Washington thought leaders what their companies do, the ethical manner in which they do it, the contributions they make and the opportunities they offer to society.
DSA also has been working in support of consumer protection anti-pyramid legislation that will define a pyramid scheme under federal statute for the first time and make clear that personal use of products by salespeople is a legitimate business practice. Similar legislation garnered encouraging bipartisan support during the previous Congress, and the Association is hopeful that an even stronger consumer protection bill will be reintroduced early in the new Congress. DSA will once again be calling upon member companies and legislators to support this vital consumer protection initiative.
In recent years, proposals have been put forward to alter the criteria under which individuals are determined to be independent contractors. These proposals have included imposing withholdings on independent contractors or otherwise allowing tax authorities to inappropriately challenge or characterize independent contractor status. DSA will be holding meetings with members and staff from the House Ways and Means Committee; Senate Finance Committee; House Education and Workforce Committee; and Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee to continue to discuss the value of the independent contractor status of direct sellers.
A Congress and Administration supportive of job creation, economic stimulation, entrepreneurialism and less government regulation is conducive to direct selling. DSA will continue to build constructive relationships with policymakers who support direct selling and address the concerns of those who have questions about our business model by educating them on the positive impact direct selling has on their constituents. With your support, we can accomplish even more.
For help on how to engage policymakers, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Brian Bennett is Attorney and Government Relations Manager at the U.S. DSA.