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WIPP Works in Washington: We did Pretty Good

 

By Ann Sullivan, WIPP Chief Advocate
Every year when the WIPP Leadership conference convenes, our policy team does an assessment of what we accomplished in the past year. Given the turbulent, go-no-go legislative year, I’m pleased and a bit surprised by our accomplishments on behalf of women entrepreneurs.

• Finding a Fair Shot for Women on Federal Contract Opportunities
The Senate included in the National Defense Authorization Act language from a bill (S.1038) by Senators Joni Ernst (R-IA) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) asking the SBA to conduct a study on Women-Owned Small Business participation on Multiple Award Contracts. The legislation came in response to a report published by WIPP entitled, “Do Not Enter: Women Shut Out of Largest Government Contracts.”

• Promoting Our Tax Reform Agenda
Prior to GOP leaders releasing their framework for tax reform this month, WIPP has been on the forefront of the issue. WIPP members have published Op-Eds across the country, Board Member Rebecca Boenigk testified before the House Committee on Ways and Means in a hearing on tax reform for small business, and WIPP submitted its tax platform to the Senate Finance Committee—asking for simplification of the code, fairness in tax rates for all entities, and repeal of the AMT and Estate taxes. All four of our asks were included in the recently released proposal.

• Achieving a Major Objective
While health care is always a contentious issue in Washington, WIPP did achieve a major objective—tucked inside a major piece of legislation last December. Congress allowed Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRAs) to be used again, which let business owners to reimburse employees for their insurance plans.

If you attended the Conference this year, you were able to witness some of the recognition WIPP’s policy work is getting first hand. Senator Joni Ernst addressed our delegation and accepted an award for her work on passing S. 1038. House Ways and Means Chair Kevin Brady (R-TX) made a special appearance at our luncheon to talk about tax reform, accompanied by Rep. Kristi Noem (R-ND), who is also on the committee. High ranking staff members of the Senate and House Small Business Committees sat down with us for a leadership tax discussion.

We work hard to make sure WIPP members’ voices are heard loud and clear on Capitol Hill. But at the end of the day, you have to use your voice, too.

I was shocked in our advocacy training session to find when I asked for a show of hands of those who had meetings scheduled with their representatives, only a few responded in the affirmative. Meeting with your legislators in D.C. or back home is critical to our efforts—they want to hear from you.

Let’s keep the momentum going. WIPP has had some extraordinary successes at a time when there have been very few. It shows the power of advocacy when 10 million women business owners speak with one voice.

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