BY Chris Chaney

Editor, PEO Insider

May 2024


Congresswoman Beth Van Duyne (R-TX) represents Texas’ 24th congressional district in the U.S. House of Representatives. The district includes portions of Dallas and Tarrant Counties, including Southlake, Colleyville, Grapevine, and Irving.

Rep. Van Duyne was first elected to Congress in 2020. Prior to her time in Washington, she served on the Irving City Council (2004-2010), as mayor of Irving (2011-2017), and most recently as the Southwest Regional Administrator for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in the Trump Administration.

She’s also a former small business owner who operated a successful marketing and communications consulting company. Her background in business influences how she sees issues in Washington and drives her public policy goals.

From her position on the powerful Ways & Means Committee she’s championed legislation that will make it easier for small businesses to succeed by providing a stable, and common-sense regulatory and tax environment. She’s also a strong ally of the PEO industry as someone who recognizes the value that PEOs bring to small business clients.

Congresswoman Van Duyne spoke with PEO Insider ® to share more about her background, policy goals, and why engaging with your elected officials matters.

NAPEO President & CEO Casey Clark meets with Rep. Van Duyne.

PEO Insider ®: What motivated you to first seek public office?

Rep. Van Duyne: When my daughter was born, she had nine eye surgeries. It’s really sunny in Texas, so I decided to go to the parks department to see about having more shade coverings built in our local park. Then I got on the parks board and got involved in the community. People saw that I was involved, which only led to more involvement. I was on the Irving City Council for six years, then served as Mayor for six years. I also served in the Trump Administration at the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Then I ran for congress in 2020.

PEO Insider ®: What were your objectives and goals as mayor of Irving?

Rep. Van Duyne: We’re (Texas), one of the fastest growing areas of the country because we aggressively pursued economic development. Whatever a local government does, like building schools, roads, water treatment centers, or libraries, it takes tax dollars. You don’t want the burden to be on your residents, you’d rather have it on businesses. You can create opportunities for residents to have meaningful employment if you attract more businesses to your community.

We brought 40,000 jobs and $3.5 billion dollars of economic development to my community. We had major corporations recognize that places like Chicago and San Francisco were not good for business. Policies have consequences. I can’t compete with the weather in California, but I can compete on taxes and the job climate.

PEO Insider ®: Can you share a bit about your career running a small business? What did you learn?

Rep. Van Duyne: There’s a huge difference between having taxes and having revenue. Someone in business recognizes that you must be competitive; you have to take customers’ wants and needs into account. As a business owner I dealt with everything from marketing and price points to hiring people and writing checks. I knew that I got paid only after everything else was paid.

You’re also dealing with competition for talent and clients. Employee benefits are outrageously expensive, it’s hard as a small business to compete with large and mid-sized corporations.

PEO Insider ®: Given all the challenges small businesses face, how do you think small businesses benefit most from working with a PEO?

Rep. Van Duyne: My first job out of college was with a physician practices company that owned a management services organization. We took small, solo practitioners and grouped them together. The idea was economies of scale. Administaff [later to be re-branded to Insperity, Inc.] was the HR component we used.

For us, we wanted the physicians to focus on healthcare, not on HR and all the regulations they had to comply with. When you’re looking at small businesses, you want them to be focused on their core competencies. PEOs help them do that.

PEO Insider ®: What are the most pressing concerns you hear from small businesses?

Rep. Van Duyne: Regulatory issues are huge. President Biden has proposed almost $1 trillion in new regulations, many of which burden small businesses. We had one compelling hearing where a small business owner held up a three-ring binder filled with the proposed regulations.

He said, “If you pass this, it will put me out of business. I won’t be able to compete with the large corporations that have entire departments dealing with this.”

Access to capital is another issue. Where are small businesses getting their dollars? How can they invest and grow? So many community banks have shut down over regulations which limits where small businesses have historically accessed capital. That’s an issue.

When I host business roundtables in my district, many business owners say hiring people is still a challenge. Benefits are so expensive that it’s hard to compete for labor with large companies.

And, of course, inflation. The cost of gas and energy increases your costs, but not all costs can be passed on to customers. It’s unsustainable.

PEO Insider ®: What are your ideas or policy goals to alleviate some of these concerns?

Rep. Van Duyne: My small business bill [the Small Business Regulatory Reduction Act] that passed out of committee will require regulators to identify how much it will cost, and they must be budget negative or neutral. When we look at how we can alleviate these pressures, this is one idea.

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is also significant. All businesses talked about how beneficial TCJA was to their business model. We’re looking at extending those tax cuts, and we’re trying to make those tax credits permanent.

Businesses recognize there is no consistency to the rules which makes it hard to meet requirements if they are always changing. We need to prioritize creating a stable regulatory framework and make as many tax cuts and credits permanent as possible.

I’ve also held two North Texas job fairs to address workforce challenges. At our job fair last summer, we connected 375 employers across a variety of industries representing 15,000 job openings with more than 16,000 jobseekers.

PEO Insider ®: Why is it important for small business owners to engage with public officials and participate in the political process? What do you find most helpful from talking with business owners and constituents?

Rep. Van Duyne: You put a face to a story, and a story to a problem. We can talk about hypotheticals all we want, but real stories are so impactful. Legislators have ideas in mind when we come up with policies, but the domino effect from unintended consequences is real. Small businesses see this, and they can tell us, ‘this rule will cripple my ability to invest in my employees and in the future of my business.’

I wouldn’t take it for granted that elected officials understand this. Hearing first-hand from folks is priceless. It has made a difference. I have seen colleagues on both sides of the aisle have “ah ha” moments because of a personal story from a constituent.

PEO Insider ®: What advice would you give PEO owners and executives about how best to tell their story and engage with lawmakers?

Rep. Van Duyne: Just be prepared to share your story and have a solution in mind. I’ll ask questions because I want to know more and really understand the issue. Anyone can complain about a problem but helping us [legislators] to come up with a solution is important. What does a fix look like? Do we just need a tweak to legislation? Are we talking about a new bill, or about stopping bad legislation?

People point to the regulatory environment and say it’s too much, but it’s very helpful if you help me figure out which regulations to address. It’s like a game of Jenga. If we take this one out, is the whole tower going down? Help me find the duplicative ones, the ones that have never been revisited or phased out.

In a Congressional office, we’re dealing with everything from appropriations bills and foreign policy to trade policy and taxes, and healthcare, and transportation. You name it; we’re dealing with it.

It’s helpful to have someone define an issue and define the consequences. So often people just say, ‘we need more money’. It’s not sustainable. Every time you ask for a federal dollar, there’s strings attached.

PEO Insider ®: What is it like serving in the U.S. House? Did anything surprise you about Washington?

Rep. Van Duyne: There is not a typical day. During my first term, I never met some of my colleagues. We had proxy voting and proxy committee meetings. The Capitol was closed. As a former mayor that was bizarre to me. When I was mayor, people knew where I shopped, where I went to church, and where my kids went to school. I saw constituents all the time. It wasn’t like that in Washington.

I did not appreciate how difficult it is to see legislation introduced and passed on the House floor. It’s a much more arduous process than I had thought. Around 11,000 pieces of legislation were introduced last year, and only a few hundred passed the House.

I also wish there was more time for legitimate debate. You’re pulled in so many different directions, and your knowledge on a worldwide group of subjects is expected to be extensive. There’s not one of us who is an expert on everything. I’m someone that likes to know everything I’m voting on and have time to prepare and discuss with staff. It’s so extensive that you’re learning about new issues all the time.

PEO Insider ®: Are there any common misconceptions about Congress you want readers to understand?

Rep. Van Duyne: I would highlight the number of pieces of legislation introduced. Sometimes people assume that if a piece of legislation didn’t get passed it’s because it was controversial or lacked support. The reality is that sometimes there’s simply not enough hours in the day to address each piece of legislation.

I also find it humorous when folks say, ‘well you went on a two-week vacation because you’re not in DC.’

The focus should be that DC is where we vote, but when I go home, it’s not vacation. I’m working in the district, hearing firsthand from people living in my district what their issues are. I’m meeting with healthcare professionals, parents, educators, small businesses, restaurateurs, and hosting events. It makes me a better representative to take the time to learn about the people who live in my district. It’s very easy to get lost in DC.





Voters in Indiana’s 9th Congressional district elected Congresswoman Erin Houchin to serve in the United States House of Representatives in November 2022. In doing so, Rep. Houchin became the first woman elected to Congress from her district. She also holds the distinction of being the only person elected to Congress who has worked for a PEO.Rep. Houchin spoke to PEO Insider about her decision to seek public office, her experience working for a PEO, and the policies she champions.


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