The state Senate has taken up the Amazon.com bill, which passed the House last week.
Senate veteran Nikki Setzler introduced the bill and began debate. He represents Lexington County, which is directly affected by the jobs that the online retailer promises to bring. Setzler laid those out for his colleagues, acknlowledging that his plea was one of the most important in his 34 years in the Senate:
The bill was revived and passed in the House, after Amazon promised more hiring and growth than in their original agreement.
Local retailers and taxpayer groups like the SC Policy Council oppose the fact that Amazon will not have to collect state taxes for five years. On the Senate floor, Aiken’s Greg Ryberg and Berkeley’s Larry Grooms put up a fight:
Setzler, in turn, says local retailers will benefit from Amazon’s presence.
The initial deal was brokered by Gov. Mark Sanford and Commerce Secretary Joe Taylor at the end of their term. It is supported by the current secretary Bobby Hitt, but not by the governor. Senators have asked her to actively help with settling the issue. She has said that she will sign the bill, though she disagrees with it.
Senior Republican Senator Hugh Leatherman takes the opposite stance, saying that backing out on “a done deal” will hurt the state’s economic prospects:
Grooms says he will continue to oppose the bill in the Senate as debate continues Wednesday.
Thursday’s debate begins with an amendment by Upstate Senator Danny Verdin proposing that any SC business be exempt from collecting state sales tax for five years–the same deal that Amazon gets.