Because of Amazon Bill, McCormick Won’t ‘Stick My Neck Out’ for McNally, Sargent

House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick said Tuesday that he “really stuck my neck out” to defend jobs in the Oak Ridge area in the past, but does not plan to do so in the future because Sen. Randy McNally is pushing a bill that would hurt Amazon.com.
McCormick, elaborating on comments initially made to the Chattanooga Times-Free Press, said he thought a project dealing with low-level nuclear waste was unfairly attacked two years ago though a Democrat-sponsored bill banning such waste in Tennessee.
“It was an easy political target, but I stepped up, went out of my way and defended the whole thing,” he said in an impromptu interview with reporters. “I feel like I’m being repaid by him trying to run jobs out of my district.”
Amazon is building to distribution centers in Southeast Tennessee, one of them in Chattanooga Republican McCormick’s district.
McNally and Rep. Charles Sargent, R-Franklin, are sponsoring legislation that would force Amazon to collect sales tax from its Tennessee customers once the facilities are open. Amazon is adamantly opposed to the bill and its officials have threatened to abandon the Tennessee facilities if the legislation becomes law.
McCormick said he was not intending to be hostile toward economic development projects in the districts of McNally and Sargent, but would just stand back now.
“I’ve helped them before. I’m not going to do that in the future,” he said. “If I have to spend all my time defending my district, I don’t have time for helping other districts.”
McNally said the nuclear waste facility that McCormick mentioned is actually in the district of Sen. Ken Yager, R-Harriman, who represents Roane County.
“If he helped us, I would hope he helped us for the right reasons,” said McNally. “I believe he does things for the right reason… I’m sure that, if we have other issues come up, he’ll evaluate them on the merits, not on who the sponsor is.”
McNally said he believes that it would set “a bad precedent” for the state not to require Amazon to collect taxes when it locates in the state. The same is true for secrecy surrounding an agreement apparently made by former Gov. Phil Bredesen – and endorsed by Gov. Bill Haslam – to exempt Amazon from the need to collect state taxes.
“(The legislation) is not meant to hurt him or anybody in his district,” said McNally, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. “It’s just a bad precedent for the state to be getting into.”

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