On its fourth try, the House Revenue and Taxation Committee today approved SB 140 to assess the sales tax on Internet sales if court rulings allow it.
Democrats on the House Revenue and Taxation Committee first tried again to amend the bill to earmark some proceeds from the tax for Medicaid, education and other programs. That amendment got 10 votes, needing 11 for passage. Rep. Reginald Murdoch, who pushed the amendment, forced Chairman Joe Jett, once a Democrat and now a Republican, to declare how he’d voted. He said he had not voted, but had a vote been required, he would have voted no.
Rep. Michael John Gray of Augusta, the new Democratic Party chair, pointed out in questioning that the additional sales tax would effectively make up for other tax cuts the Republican legislature has granted. His suggestion is that underfunded services should be considered by new money.
The committee then gave the bill a do-pass on a voice vote. It was the fourth vote on the bill this session. It was not immediately clear why the Democrats didn’t band together again to defeat the bill on a roll call, though the overwhelming numbers of Republicans on the House floor might have something to do with it.
Democrats had packed the committee in advance of the session in hopes of winning approval of some key measures such as an earned income tax credit. That strategy contributed to Jett’s decision to jump parties. In the end, it hasn’t produced much.