published Monday, April 25th, 2011

Ramsey open to revisiting state’s deal with Amazon

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    Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey speaks to reporters in his office in Nashville, Tenn., on Tuesday, March 22, 2011. (AP Photo/Erik Schelzig)

NASHVILLE — Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey today opened the door to revisiting economic recruitment deals the Bredesen administration struck with Internet retailing giant Amazon and manufacturer Electrolux.

Ramsey’s comments came after the state’s former economic and community development commissioner, Matt Kisber, canceled a planned meeting with Ramsey. The purpose was to discuss what commitments former Gov. Phil Bredesen in the waning days of his administration to lure Amazon to Southeast Tennessee and Electrolux to Memphis.

“I don’t know until I actually look at the agreements and see what the ramifications are for those moving forward,” Ramsey, the Republican Senate speaker, told reporters this afternoon.

“Now obviously,” Ramsey said, “I want to make sure that if there’s something we made an obligation that we uphold that obligation. But if there’s not, then I think it’s worth looking at. That’s all I can say.”

Efforts to contact Kisber were not successful.

Ramsey suggested Kisber might have thought the meeting would be open to reporters and chose to cancel. It would not be open, said Ramsey, who hopes to reschedule the meeting.

Amazon plans to spend $139 million and build two distribution centers in Hamilton and Bradley counties. They would employ between 1,400 to 1,500 full-time workers and ultimately more than 5,000 part-time workers, an Amazon official told local legislators earlier this year.

Democrat Bredesen’s successor, Republican Bill Haslam, has all but acknowledged the state is waiving requirements that would make Internet retailing giant Amazon collect sales taxes on purchases made by its Tennessee customers.

Tennessee requires retailers with a physical presence in the state to collect and remit sales taxes from state customers. Under U.S. Supreme Court rulings, states cannot compel retailers that do not have a physical presence in a state to collect sales taxes.

For complete details, see tomorrow’s Times Free Press

about Andy Sher...

Andy Sher is a Nashville-based staff writer covering Tennessee state government and politics for the Times Free Press. A Washington correspondent from 1999-2005 for the Times Free Press, Andy previously headed up state Capitol coverage for The Chattanooga Times, worked as a state Capitol reporter for The Nashville Banner and was a contributor to The Tennessee Journal, among other publications. Andy worked for 17 years at The Chattanooga Times covering police, health care, county government, ...

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sig4ever2 said...

A card laid is a card played. If Tennessee changes the agreed upon terms of this deal, how would other companies feel about future agreements made with our state? Talk about shooting yourself in the foot! That would be a terrible precedent. Leave the deal alone and leave the welcome for business door wide open! WE NEED THE JOBS!!

April 25, 2011 at 8:14 p.m.
nucanuck said...

sin4ever2,

Tennessee doesn't need to change the deal given to Amazon, the state needs to put their existing retail base on equal footing. One doesn't undercut old friends for new friends,so the course is clear...give the same deal to all.

If that doesn't happen, Tennessee retailers should file a class action lawsuit to make it happen.

BTW, Amazon will not create net new US jobs. Their efficiently organized new hires will replace thousands who will be laid off throughout the retail sector nationwide creating a net loss in jobs. The productivity sword cuts both ways and in a time of high unemployment,can be a mixed blessing.

April 25, 2011 at 8:45 p.m.
rolando said...

Hey...VW's sweetheart deal is next on the "To Be Voided" list...or so the rumor goes. Looks like our politicians just don't stay bought...

April 25, 2011 at 9:01 p.m.
rockman12 said...

Yeah, just go and chase those companies out of the state along with the jobs that they are bringing. That really sounds like a good idea (note sarcasm). So what if Amazon is not going to be required to collect sales tax. If they built their facilities in Georgia they would not be collecting Tennessee sales tax anyways. So let them bring the jobs here and don't force them to collect sales tax. It's still good for the state. It puts people to work who will then spend their paychecks in Tennessee and they will pay sales tax on everything they buy anyways. This is basic common sense.

April 25, 2011 at 9:59 p.m.
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