Each month, this special feature section explores AAHOA’s advocacy efforts, while bringing attention to pro-industry voices, highlighting industry-specific legislation, recapping past AAHOA outreach events, and much more.
Rep. Jan Schakowsky was first elected to Congress in 1998 to represent Illinois’ 9th Congressional District. She serves in the House Democratic Leadership as a Chief Deputy Whip. Important to franchisees, Rep. Schakowsky serves on the House Energy & Commerce Committee, and in the 117th Congress, she was the Chair of the Consumer Protection and Commerce Subcommittee, which has oversight of the Federal Trade Commission. As Chair, she sponsored H.R.6551, which would give franchisees a private right of action on FTC Franchise Rule violations. In addition, she requested that the Government Accountability Office study the inadequacies of the FTC Franchise Rule and the lack of enforcement by the FTC. That report should be issued soon. In the 118th Congress, with the change in majority, Rep. Schakowsky will continue to fight for franchisee rights as Ranking Member of the Innovation, Data & Commerce Subcommittee.
YOUR PARENTS WERE FIRST GENERATION IMMIGRANTS TO THE UNITED STATES. HOW DID THAT IMPACT YOUR CHILDHOOD AND HOW YOU VIEW THE WORLD TODAY?
We are a nation of immigrants. I am honored to represent the 9th Congressional District of Illinois – one of the most diverse in the nation. We have long been a welcoming community for refugees, asylum seekers, and immigrants from all over the globe. As a first-generation American myself, I’ve witnessed firsthand immigrants who have come to this nation to create a better life for themselves, their families, and future generations. Our thriving, caring, and peaceful community stands as a model of just how much immigrants contribute to our country.
In my district, immigrants run small businesses, provide health and long-term care, lead places of worship, teach our children in schools, and even serve in our armed forces. I recently participated in a press conference calling for comprehensive immigration reform. Seeking asylum in the United States is legal, but because of a provision called Title 42, the right to seek asylum in the U.S. under international law has been suspended in some cases. The United States must reaffirm its commitment to accepting refugees, asylum seekers, and immigrants looking to better their lives.
YOU RECEIVED A BACHELOR OF SCIENCE FROM THE UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS IN ELEMENTARY EDUCATION. HOW DID YOU GO FROM THERE TO POLITICS?
There are a lot of skills that teachers must master that have made me a more successful legislator. For example, listening more than talking and making sure everyone feels included are skills that defined my work as the Chairwoman of the Consumer Protection and Commerce Subcommittee of the Energy and Commerce Committee last Congress. It’s because of these skills that our subcommittee was able to pass multiple bipartisan pieces of legislation, like the INFORM Consumers Act, which is going to help curb the onslaught of dangerous, counterfeit, and stolen products available to Americans shopping on online marketplaces, and the STURDY Act, which will keep dangerous furniture products off the market and out of our homes.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE YOUNG WOMEN, OFTEN IN FIELDS THAT ARE MALE DOMINATED, TO HELP THEM BE SUCCESSFUL LEADERS?
Women are still paid far less on the dollar than men, and we’re still fighting for paid sick and family leave and affordable child care. We need your voices now more than ever. I know what it’s like being the only woman in a room; it isn’t easy, but you can provide a perspective that others cannot. Know that you have value and belong. When I visit schools and talk to students, for the longest time, I would mostly only get questions from male students. I am proud to say that times are changing. Take up space and use your voice.
YOU ARE CURRENTLY A CHIEF DEPUTY WHIP FOR THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY. CAN YOU EXPLAIN WHAT THAT ENTAILS?
I’m one of 10 members in the Democratic Caucus whose duty it is to count votes and make sure we have enough votes to pass legislation on the House floor. It’s my job to answer questions and address any concerns my colleagues may have about pending bills and issues to ensure they’re supportive of the legislation. It’s truly an honor to advocate for legislation that matters most to our working families.
AAHOA Advocacy Update
In March, AAHOA Secretary Kamalesh (KP) Patel hosted Congressman Jimmy Panetta (D-CA-19) for a back-of-house tour at Surf City Inn & Suites in Santa Cruz, CA. The event gave Congressman Panetta a unique, hands-on tour of the technology powering the guest experience and the many ways hotel businesses are a vital force in the local economy.
During the tour, Congressman Panetta stopped at Surf City Inn’s check-in kiosk and saw how this innovative software connects with a live agent. Additionally, California AAHOA Members, who are also local hotel owners, discussed key issues impacting the industry, including labor shortages, increasing SBA loan limits, adding India to the H-2B Visa eligibility list, and human trafficking.
“As the U.S. Representative for California’s 19th Congressional District, I’m working to ensure there’s appropriate federal support so our diverse and enterprising communities and residents can succeed and thrive,” Congressman Panetta said. “I was proud to recently visit with AAHOA in Santa Cruz to discuss how the federal government can better foster that entrepreneurship, opportunity, and economic empowerment. I look forward to working alongside AAHOA in the 118th Congress to strengthen our workforce and hospitality industry.”
“It was an honor to have Congressman Jimmy Panetta participate in the Back-of-House Tour. He got to see first-hand how hoteliers are supporting the industry and creating jobs in California,” AAHOA Secretary Kamalesh (KP) Patel said. “Touring a local hotel and speaking to many hoteliers underscores his commitment to hospitality and the constituents who live, work, and play in his district.”
With AAHOA Members owning more than half of the hotels in California and contributing $62.9 billion to the state’s GDP, this Back-of-the-House Tour was instrumental in educating more members of Congress on the hotel industry and issues that matter most.