Last month, nearly 50 members of WIT & Co., representing 36 small, family-run and independent businesses descended upon Capitol Hill as lawmakers returned to Washington with a packed agenda.

Participants discussed their concerns over the Department of Labor’s proposed changes to overtime exemptions, the challenges of showrooms that are continually disadvantaged by unequal sales-tax treatment and various health-care provisions that Congress was poised to take up this fall.

For many, this was a first-time experience, seeing first-hand how the proverbial “sausage making” takes place.  As ASA’s Government Affairs Committee Chairman and WIT member Jeff New put it, “I’ll never forget my first visit to Capitol Hill years ago when I was discretely asked by a Congressional staffer, ‘What’s a LIFO?’ These are the folks making decisions that affect small businesses like mine. It’s imperative that they have the information they need to make these decisions, and WE are the best source for that information. Our visits to Capitol Hill are critically important!”

Steve Johnstonof Ohio-based Johnston Supply managed to come away both frustrated and hopeful. “I was relieved to hear voices of understanding and sympathy when describing to my member of Congress the challenges we’ll face implementing these new overtime rules being considered by the Labor Department,” he said. “But at the same time, I was unnerved to receive a letter from my senator accusing small business owners such as myself of “exploiting” our employees. That shows me they just do not get it.”

This is exactly why employers and small-business owners need to come to Washington as well as get engaged in their community. We need to reinforce our allies who are fighting on our behalf, help persuade those sitting on the fences and educate those who oppose our issues. Please visit for more information.