Ramsey open to revisiting state's deal with Amazon

Ramsey open to revisiting state's deal with Amazon

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

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

Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey speaks to reporters in...

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