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Angus King on Technology

Independent Former ME Governor


Internet approaches economists' ideal of a perfect market

I don't know about you, but I feel kind of proud that I was present when a new verb--to google--was invented. Imagine being around when someone came up with "run" or "jump."

And the Web is an amazing resource. It approaches the economists' ideal of a perfect market, where buyers & sellers have almost total access to one another and information is unlimited, available and easily accessible. We are barely beginning to realize the potential this has for fundamental social, cultural, and economic change.

Source: Governor`s Travels, by Gov. Angus King, p. 16 , Aug 16, 2011

High-speed Internet connection for rural parts of Maine

I am announcing tonight that this winter, Maine really goes on-line. To anyone who has waited for an Internet site to open or a file to download, the key is speed and the key to speed is something called bandwidth-the size of the “pipe” that carries the phenomenal resources of the Internet to our homes and businesses. In the age of e-commerce, bandwidth is the essential commodity. Just as the roads and railroads defined economic opportunity a century ago, these wires or the lack of them - will spell the economic difference between businesses, towns, and states in the new century.

And tonight, we’re hitting the bandwidth jackpot. First, Time Warner is extending their cable-based high speed internet service, called Roadrunner to northern Maine, the first time Roadrunner has been deployed outside an urban area anywhere in the country. For the rest of the state, Bell Atlantic will be bringing to Maine their own high speed Internet service over ordinary phone wires-called DSL-within the next month.

Source: 2001 State of the State address to the Me. legislature , Jan 24, 2001

Voted YES on authorizing states to collect Internet sales taxes.

Congressional Summary: The Marketplace Fairness Act of 2013 authorizes each state to require all sellers with sales exceeding $1 million in the preceding calendar year to collect and remit sales and use taxes, but only if complying with the minimum simplification requirements relating to the administration of such taxes & audits.

Opponent's Argument for voting No (Cnet.com): Online retailers are objecting to S.743, saying it's unreasonable to expect small businesses to comply with the detailed--and sometimes conflicting--regulations of nearly 10,000 government tax collectors. S.743 caps years of lobbying by the National Retail Federation and the Retail Industry Leaders Association, which represent big box stores. President Obama also supports the bill.

Proponent's Argument for voting Yes: Sen. COLLINS. This bill rectifies a fundamental unfairness in our current system. Right now, Main Street businesses have to collect sales taxes on every transaction, but outbecause -of-state Internet sellers don't have to charge this tax, they enjoy a price advantage over the mom-and-pop businesses. This bill would allow States to collect sales taxes on Internet sales, thereby leveling the playing field with Main Street businesses. This bill does not authorize any new or higher tax, nor does it impose an Internet tax. It simply helps ensure that taxes already owed are paid.

Opponent's Argument for voting No: Sen. WYDEN: This bill takes a function that is now vested in government--State tax collection--and outsources that function to small online retailers. The proponents say it is not going to be hard for small businesses to handle this--via a lot of new computer software and the like. It is, in fact, not so simple. There are more than 5,000 taxing jurisdictions in our country. Some of them give very different treatment for products and services that are almost identical.

King says, "King (I-ME)"

Reference: Marketplace Fairness Act; Bill S.743 ; vote number 13-SV113 on May 6, 2013

Cooperate with Canada on regional info tech workforce.

King signed the New England Governors' Conference resolution:

Source: NEG/ECP Resolution 26-6: Joint Information Workforce 01-NEGC6 on Aug 28, 2001

Level playing field for Main Street vs. Internet sales tax.

King adopted a letter to Congress from 44 Governors:

The nation’s governors have a strong and unified message to Congress: deal fairly with Main Street retailers, consumers, and local governments. In a letter sent to all members of Congress late Friday, 44 governors said:

If you care about a level playing field for Main Street retail businesses and local control of states, local governments, and schools, extend the moratorium on taxing Internet access ONLY with authorization for the states to streamline and simplify the existing sales tax system. To do otherwise perpetuates a fundamental inequity and ignores a growing problem.
The current moratorium on Internet access taxes, like those consumers pay to Internet service providers, and multiple and discriminatory taxes is scheduled to expire in October. The moratorium does not apply to sales taxes.

Currently, sales and use taxes are owed on all online transactions, but states are prohibited from requiring “remote sellers” to collect and remit those levies. A 1992 US Supreme Court decision said states can only require sellers that have a physical presence in the same state as the consumer to collect so-called use taxes. In instances when a seller does not have a physical presence, consumers are required to calculate and remit the taxes owed to their home states at the end of the year. The problem is most people are unaware that they’re supposed to pay, and states lack an effective enforcement mechanism. Online and catalog sellers, thereby, have a significant price advantage over Main Street businesses that must collect a sales tax on all transactions.

The loophole creates serious budget problems for schools, states, and local governments. A study estimated that states could lose as much as $14 billion by 2004 if they are unable to collect existing taxes on Web-based sales. Nearly half of state revenues come from sales taxes.

Source: NGA Press Release, "Level Playing Field" 01-NGA18 on Aug 20, 2001

Create International Northern and Biotechnology Corridor.

King signed the New England Governors' Conference resolution:

Source: NEG/ECP Resolution 23-6: Biotechology Corridor 98-NEGC6 on Jun 9, 1998

Other candidates on Technology: Angus King on other issues:
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