News

Senate Holds Up Internet-Tax Bill

9/27/1998 8:00 PM Eastern

Washington -- The Senate will decide this week whether to
begin debate on a bill that would block states from imposing new taxes on the Internet.

The bill stalled last week, initially falling victim to
wrangling over health-maintenance-organization reform. Senate Democrats -- scrambling for
an opportunity to debate the issue with two weeks left before the Senate adjourns --
wanted to be allowed to offer their HMO-reform measure as an amendment to the Internet
bill.

But Senate Commerce Committee chairman John McCain
(R-Ariz.) would only allow the bill to be brought up under restricted parameters,
permitting only relevant amendments to be debated.

Last Friday, Sen. Bob Graham (D-Fla.) objected to
consideration of the legislation, citing concerns about the makeup of the commission that
would be created by the bill. Graham would like to see more advocates of states'
ability to tax remote sales on that commission.

The bill's original sponsor, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.),
said he would work with Graham to ensure that his concerns were considered.

Claiming broad support in the Senate for the legislation,
McCain filed a motion that would require the Senate to vote on debating the bill Tuesday
(Sept. 29). The House passed a similar measure this summer.

Another Internet-related bill passed the House Commerce
Committee last week. The legislation would put restrictions on commercial pornography Web
sites, forcing them to take steps to block children's access.

But it is uncertain whether the House will have time to
consider the bill before adjourning in October. A similar measure was attached to a Senate
appropriations bill this summer.

States News Service

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