Nashville: Kisber cancels meeting to discuss Amazon deals

Nashville: Kisber cancels meeting to discuss Amazon deals

April 25th, 2011 by Andy Sher in Local - Breaking News

NASHVILLE - The state's former economic and community development commissioner, Matt Kisber, has canceled a planned meeting with Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey to discuss what commitments former Gov. Phil Bredesen made to lure Amazon to Southeast Tennessee.

No explanation was provided. Efforts to contact Kisber were not successful.

Ramsey, the Republican Senate speaker, said last week that Kisber had agreed to meet with him and discuss details of two last-minute economic recruitment deals struck late last year, which includes Amazon's plans to build two distribution centers in Hamilton and Bradley counties.

Ramsey has also criticized another deal involving the construction of an Electrolux plant in Memphis.

Bredesen's successor, Republican Bill Haslam, has all but acknowledged that 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.

Ramsey told reporters last week that he is not going to interfere with what has already been done. But going forward, he said, changes are needed in how the state commits to such deals.

"There needs to be legislation to have it be more than just one person, apparently, having this carte blanche authority," Ramsey said.

The Senate and House speakers as well as the governor and possibly House and Senate Finance Committee chairmen also should sign on, Ramsey said.

For complete details, see tomorrow's Times Free Press.