Danielle (Dani) Bissell is a great example of the professional and formidable women who make up the indoor tanning industry. Though Bissell’s story is not unlike those from women in other industries, there is one major difference. Bissell’s business is under attack by the federal government.
Dani Bissell’s journey began like many young women who strive to reach the top. Bissell’s 5-year career has taken her from front line operator to Senior manager overseeing multiple stores, including the top producing store, for the 40-plus salon franchise group. “I love the tanning industry, especially the way we help people feel more confident for special events or by helping them with a certain skin condition,” says Bissell. “Not everyone can say they love their job, but I love what I do and I take pride in everything I do.”
But Bissell’s dreams and aspirations are being threatened by the federal government’s 10% tax on indoor tanning. And as the American Suntanning Association (ASA) will tell you, thousands of women are losing their careers and their futures for reasons that cannot be justified. That’s why the ASA continues their fight to repeal the onerous tax once and for all.
By the end of 2016, the ASA’s lobbying efforts had secured 114 co-sponsors for house bill HR2698, championed by Representative George Holding (NC), to repeal the tan tax. That’s a huge number of congressional members willing to stand up and say this tax is wrong and it needs to go away. In the process of securing those signatures, the ASA also informed legislators about the unfair attacks our industry has received from federal agencies and presented our scientifically supported position.
Everyone in Washington knows that the tan tax is responsible for devastating the indoor tanning market. Nearly 10,000 mostly women-owned businesses have closed and more than 100,000 women have lost their jobs. “This truly is a war on women,” according to ASA President Melinda Norton. “100,000 lost jobs is a lot for even the largest industries. But this is more than that. The federal government has unfairly focused this attack on women.”
If you’re not convinced that this is a war on women, how does the government explain their decision to exempt fitness clubs from the tan tax? “It’s a well-known fact that fitness clubs are primarily owned by men, so why do men in business get exempted?” says Norton. “This is the year for women in business to stand up and have their voices be heard.”
When the new congressional session began in January of 2017, HR2698 had expired and a new tan tax repeal bill, HR1150 was drafted. Because Republicans were in control, our Washington supporters knew the tan tax would be eliminated when the ACA was repealed, so they felt there was no need to sign onto a new tan tax repeal bill. As we all know, ACA was not repealed and the tan tax has continued.
Since the ACA repeal failed, ASA’s Washington team changed the focus of our efforts toward a number of opportunities to have the tan tax repeal added to existing bills. ASA is also renewing efforts to get sponsors back on the new HR1150 tan tax repeal bill and have confirmed more than 50 co-sponsors as of March 2018. You can be assured that the ASA is putting a lot of energy into keeping the tan tax repeal message in front of representatives in Washington with hopes of getting this tax repealed as early as possible in 2018.
ASA’s Norton has spent several years educating politicians about the damage caused by the tan tax. “Getting 114 sponsors is no easy feat for any issue,” says Norton. The ACA repeal opportunity, which would have eliminated the tan tax, didn’t make it to the finish line. But that doesn’t mean we can’t get the tax repealed. “We’re pushing for sponsors for HR 1150 now and making as much noise about this unfair attack on women as possible,” Norton said.
But there are more ways to make noise about the damaging effects of the tan tax than just meetings in Washington, DC. Our US representatives receive their most influential messages from their constituents back home. A message from someone in their home district carries far more weight than hearing something from a government lobbyist or association representative on Capitol Hill. This is why your message to your representative about the damaging effects of the tan tax is a critical part of the success of the tan tax repeal effort.
The time to act is now for many reasons. We have a more business friendly administration guiding the federal government. Women are making a powerful stand to fight against the many inequities they are faced with. “Women in the tanning industry have worked too hard to stand idly by as the government continues to attack us. It is time for our voices to be heard in Washington,” says Norton.
In early March, ASA sent a request to the entire indoor tanning market asking for salons, operators and customers to sign an appeal to lawmakers to repeal the unfair tan tax. The market responded positively and nearly 10,000 postcards were signed and shipped to Washington to show our country’s leaders that this issue is important and needs to be addressed immediately.
So when South Beach Tanning was contacted by the ASA, Bissell took action. “More than 75% of our customers are women and this tax just isn’t fair to them,” said Bissell. “I wanted to collect as many signatures as I could so I could give these women a voice.” Driven by this unfairness, Bissell took action and in one short week collected nearly 500 signatures.
Like many in the tanning industry, Bissell took it upon herself to stand up and make a statement about her career as a professional woman in business. She not only collected signatures for Washington, she also educated her customers of the unfairness in the process. Like Bissell, many in the industry, believe that it’s time to win this unfair war against women and that the many women who make up the industry need to become more involved. So, ASA has created a simple, yet powerful initiative that will get thousands of messages to all of our representatives so our voices will be heard. This program is simple, takes a few minutes a month, and we can start right now.
ASA will post a different message to send for you to copy and paste into an email to your US representative. There will also be a link that will direct you to your representatives email portal to make it that much easier. This message and link will be posted on AmericanSuntanning.org and on Smarttan.com every two weeks. Set your calendar to remind you to go to one of the sites to get your new message and complete your plea to your representative. Sending the email will take less than a minute, so if you have time, make a call to your member and leave the same message over the phone.
Imagine if every member of the indoor tanning industry were to contact their representative twice a month to remind them of how devastating the tan tax has been to their business or their job. Imagine the impact it would have on making the tan tax repeal a priority and finally putting an end to this onerous tax.
Stop imagining and take action today.
Here’s your first message. You can also find it on AmericanSuntanning.org or Smarttan.com:
PLEASE STOP ATTACKING PROFESSIONAL WOMEN IN BUSINESS!
The federal government is attacking female business owners while giving male-dominated businesses a free pass. How do I know the federal government is targeting women? Because fitness clubs and other non-salon male-dominated businesses don’t have to pay the tax. While fitness clubs with unregulated, unsupervised tanning continue to grow, professionally certified tanning salons are closing their doors. Women make up the majority of the indoor tanning industry – nationally over 70% of tanning salon owners are women, 99% of our employees are women, and more than 75% of tanning consumers are women. Thanks to the 10% tan tax, more than 100,000 women have lost their jobs and their businesses. This tax has only raised a small fraction of its projections and has failed in every way possible. Attacking female small business owners and employees cannot be a viable solution to any problem. It’s time for this unfair tax to end.
REPEAL THE UNFAIR 10% TAN TAX – SUPPORT H.R. 1150 AND S. 2600!
To send your message, please click the following link:
If you need assistance in contacting your representative or if you would like more information about the ASA, call 855-879-7678 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.