On April 22nd and 23rd, 24 technology-enabled small businesses from 25 states converged on Washington, DC for the 10th Annual U.S. of eBay Advocacy Day. Hosted by the eBay Inc. Government Relations team, the event brings together eBay and PayPal small businesses from all across the country to share their stories with their Members of Congress and advocate on public policy issues that impact their businesses. This year’s participants met with 77 U.S. Senators and Representatives over a two day period and discussed issues such as Internet sales tax, small business cross border trade and mobile payments.
Although Members of Congress are lobbied day in and day out from stakeholders on every side of every issue, nothing is more compelling than to hear directly from the constituents that would be touched by policy decisions. However, it can be difficult for a policymaker to make an informed decision on an important bill if they never have the opportunity to engage their constituents. Let’s take Internet sales taxes as an example.
Members of Congress and their staff hear regularly from large retailers looking to pass an Internet sales tax bill and require small technology-enabled businesses to collect and remit sales taxes in every jurisdiction across the country. Although eBay and our allies were successful in stopping the Marketplace Fairness Act from passing into law last Congress, proponents of the legislation have been hard at work. Senators Mike Enzi (R-WY) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) reintroduced the Marketplace Fairness Act in the U.S. Senate in March, while it is widely reported that Congressman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) will be introducing similar legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives in the near future. Without events like the U.S. of eBay Advocacy Day, Members of Congress might never have the opportunity to meet small technology-enabled businesses back home that are supporting their local communities and changing the face of retail.
Devin Wenig, eBay CEO-designee, also attended this year’s U.S. of eBay Advocacy Day and joined the small businesses in their advocacy efforts on Capitol Hill. This year’s participants also had the special opportunity to meet with U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary, Penny Pritzker, and the U.S. Postmaster General, Megan Brennan, to discuss other important policy issues, such as promoting small technology-enabled business here and abroad.