The House gave final legislative approval Wednesday to legislation intended to eventually end Tennessee’s status of having the nation’s highest beer taxes.
The bill was approved 87-2 by the House on Wednesday without debate beyond sponsor Rep. Cameron Sexton, R-Crossville, describing it as “simply replacing an antiquated 1950s tax structure.”
The Senate approved SB422 last week, 30-1, under sponsorship of Sen. Brian Kelsey, R-Germantown. It now goes to Gov. Bill Haslam, who is expected to sign it.
The bill transforms Tennessee’s 17 percent tax on beer at the wholesale level to a flat-rate tax of $35.60 per barrel.
News release from Scott Price (Democratic nominee in House District 47) campaign:
In response to the recent announcement that Rep. Judd Matheny is planning to challenge the leadership of respected House Speaker Beth Harwell; it seems extremely presumptuous of Mr. Matheny to be considering such a divisive move when he still has a contested general election in November.
As his opponent in this election, I feel Mr. Matheny has lost sight of the fact that the voters of District 47 have yet to speak to determine who will best represent them. This premature action on his part is just one more example of how out of touch with local voters Mr. Matheny has become. He is obviously pursuing personal political aspirations with no regard to the needs of the people of District 47. Representatives are elected every two years to go to Nashville for a limited time, and then return to their regular jobs.
As an educator for sixteen years in our district, I have no desire to be a career politician and abandon local concerns for a political title. I am willing to represent the hard working people of this district for a short time and then return to my classroom.
Seeking the position of Speaker of the House, along with his opposition to successful Republican candidates in the recent primary, Mr. Matheny has proven to be on the wrong side of even his own Party’s direction in this election. This clearly shows that Judd Matheny is seeking personal political gain instead of devoting his time to the pressing issues of this district. I am actually a little surprised that Mr. Matheny would turn his back on his own Party’s leadership.
From all accounts, Speaker Harwell has been a fair, highly respected, and responsible leader. As the new representative for District 47, I would support Speaker Harwell’s re-election as Speaker of the House if Republicans maintain the majority. I believe voters are tired of political bickering. They want a representative to attend to the true needs of
their district without wasting time and energy on personal political aspirations that clearly are not wanted by Party leaders or by the voters of our district.
Legislation that will cement Gov. Bill Haslam’s deal with Amazon.com will cost the state $22.8 million per year in “foregone revenue” while in effect, but bring a like amount afterwards, according to a legislative staff estimate.
The “fiscal note” on HB2370, introduced at the behest of Gov. Bill Haslam, does not mention the Internet retail giant by name, but observes that “one taxpayer will meet the criteria specified in this bill exempting such taxpayer from collecting and remitting sales and use tax.”
The “qualified taxpayer” had $34.2 billion in online U.S. sales in 2010, the Fiscal Review Committee note says, and given that Tennessee has 2 percent of the national population, that would translate into $684 million in Tennessee sales.
From that point the fiscal note goes on to project $22,840,600 in “foregone” state sales tax revenue in a full year and to peg the lost revenue for local government sales tax collections at $9,649,400.
Haslam announced in October that a deal negotiated with Amazon exempts the Internet retailer from collecting Tennessee state and local taxes until Jan. 1, 2014 or until Congress enacts a federal law authorizing states to require sales tax be collected on Internet sales.
In exchange, Amazon said it would invest another $350 million in Tennessee over a three-year period in addition to distribution centers already underway in the Southeast Tennessee at the time. Since October, Amazon has announced plans to build facilities in two Middle Tennessee counties.
The bill will fulfill Haslam’s end of the bargain. It is up for its first subcommittee hearing today (Wednesday) in the House.
Haslam made a brief mention of the bill in his “state of the state” address to the General Assembly.
“I am proud that we worked with Amazon to expand the company’s presence in Tennessee to include, in addition to Hamilton and Bradley, Wilson and Rutherford counties too, creating thousands of jobs,” he said in the prepared remarks. “And through that process we were able to reach an agreement with the company that gives certainty to them and us moving forward.
“We need your help in passing the legislation this session to solidify that agreement,” Haslam said.