Legislation that is about to surface, aimed at enforcing the current sales tax on Internet purchases, would also restore and expand two statewide sales tax holidays this year and in 2013 in an effort to kill any talk that a tax increase is afoot.
The tax holidays will be included in an amendment to HB 993, sponsored by state Rep. Matt Ramsey, R-Peachtree City.
A 48-hour sales tax holiday aimed at back-to-school shoppers would be scheduled for Aug. 10-11 this year; Aug. 9-10, 2013. Another set of 72-hour sales tax holidays, aimed at purchases of energy- or water-efficient products, would be scheduled for Oct. 5-7 this year, and Oct. 7-6, 2012.
Georgia dropped its sales tax holidays in 2010, as the budget pinch from the Great Recession hit its peak. But other states did not, with many Georgia cities along the border, retailers had argued that shoppers were crossing into South Carolina, Florida and Alabama to make purchases.
The more controversial portion of the bill will be language aimed at those who sell goods to Georgians via the Internet – specifically, Amazon.com.
The new language crafted for HB 993 will strengthen the state’s definition of what it means for a business to have “a physical nexus” in the state – a key federal hurdle for applying the state sales tax. The measure would also target “affliliates” of Amazon.com – contracted clients, located within Georgia, to whom the website directs traffic.
Gov. Nathan Deal has emphasized that he is merely enforcing current sales tax law. In purchases that Georgians make from many Internet businesses, the burden is on the purchasers to pay the sales tax – a “user’s tax” that is part of the current state income tax form. But that provision is almost unenforceable — few Georgians pay it.
Collection of sales taxes from Internet companies is being pushed by retail establishments large and small in Georgia, who feel that they have been placed at a competitive disadvantage by having brick-and-mortar operations in the state.
On Wednesday, the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, one of the most powerful lobbying forces in the Capitol, endorsed what it termed “E-fairness” legislation. The Georgia Retail Association, whose members include both Home Depot and Walmart, is carrying the weight of the lobbying effort.
For the crassly political, last night’s passage of HB 954, the bill to reduce the length of time in which a woman can seek an abortion, has two finite implications:
– It establishes the GOP credentials of Doug McKillip, R-Athens, who switched parties in 2010 and is likely to see primary opposition later this year;
– It takes some heat off House Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, on whom pro-life forces had begun to focus as the chief impediment to anti-abortion legislation over the last few years. Here’s the statement from Kay Godwin and Pat Tippett, who head up Georgia Conservatives in Action down in south Georgia:
”Last night was a tremendous victory for the pro-life movement in Georgia as the house passed HB954. Thousands of babies lives will now be saved. Without the leadership and support of Speaker David Ralston this bill would not have passed . We commend the speaker for his commitment to the passage of this bill.”
Creative Loafing has latched on to a letter from Fulton County Sheriff Ted Jackson to state Sen. Don Balfour, author of SB 469, a bill that – among other things – would ban the picketing of private residences during labor disputes.
From the letter:
I am also concerned this bill would … turn our role into a political one, where we would have to determine what protests do and do not fall under the definition of unlawful picketing under the bill.
The role of law enforcement shouldn’t be to police free speech but the intent of this bill seems to be just that. By targeting only protests dealing with labor disputes, you are putting police officers in the difficult position of silencing the voices of Georgians and, in the process, setting us up to face potential lawsuits that would ultimately be paid for by taxpayers.
Further lambasting of the legislation has been scheduled for 11:30 a.m. today at the IBEW building near downtown Atlanta.
After that union-oriented gathering, look for state Democratic party chairman Mike Berlon and the party’s treasurer, Russell Edwards, to appear at the Capitol in a peacemaking gesture – made necessary by a round of firings and resignations at Democratic party headquarters. Updated at 10:20 a.m.: The news conference was canceled, not because of a revival of a disagreement, we’re told, but because Berlon’s arm — he may have broken it during a weekend fall.
Those who got home in time for the evening news last night saw this innovative TV plug from Winning Our Future, the Gingrich super PAC, on NBC:
If you don’t think foreign affairs will play a heavy role in this year’s presidential contest, consider that Republican calls for President Barack Obama to take a heavy-handed approach to Iran are likely to result in higher gasoline prices – a topic that Newt Gingrich has already placed dibs on. From a New York Times piece this morning:
But any success in tightening sanctions on Iran could squeeze global oil supplies, pushing up prices and causing serious economic repercussions at home and abroad.
“It’s a bind for Obama,” said Mr. Kloza at the Oil Price Information Service. “How do you get tough on Iran without getting tough on American wallets?”
- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider