Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

By Dale Kasler
dkasler@sacbee.com

A group of California legislators plans to push a new online sales tax bill in a move to thwart tax opponent Amazon.com.

Lawmakers today used a "gut-and-amend" procedure that takes an existing bill and substitutes an online sales tax measure. The bill passed the Senate Appropriations Committee today.

In late June, Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill requiring Amazon and other online retailers to begin collecting sales tax on California transactions. The bill passed on a regular, majority vote. Amazon has refused to collect the tax and launched a referendum to have it overturned.

But Larry Levin, a spokesman for Sen. Loni Hancock, D-Oakland, said the new legislation would be different. It would pass on a two-thirds supermajority and would carry an "urgency" clause. That means it can't be subject to ballot referendum, Levin said.

The maneuver has the support of the California Retailers Association, he said.

Although Republican lawmakers have generally resisted taxes, "we think we can get to two-thirds," Levin said.

Spokesmen for Amazon couldn't be reached for comment.



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