Last week legislation was introduced in both the South Carolina House and Senate to exempt Amazon.com from collecting sales tax on sales to South Carolina residents from its proposed distribution center in Lexington County. The bills have an uphill fight.
My earlier blogs lay out the arguments against the Amazon deal:
April 5th–Selling Small Businesses down the Amazon
April 7th–Amazon.com: The bigger picture
April 8th–Amazon.com’s business plan revealed
Business organizations like The S. C. Small Business Chamber, the S.C. Chamber and the newly formed S.C. Alliance for Main Street Fairness are opposing the Amazon.com sales tax exemption for its obvious unfairness to all brick-and-mortar and on-line stores in the state. Tea Party groups across the state have registered their opposition to the deal directly to Governor Nikki Haley in a private meeting encouraging her to veto a bill if it reaches her desk (something she has said that she won’t do). Competing TV and radio commercials are airing statewide encouraging the public to contact legislators to support and oppose the Amazon sales tax deal.
Realizing that South Carolina was not going to be a pushover like all the other state’s it has bullied into getting its way over sales tax, Amazon.com threw a tantrum announcing it had stopped the hiring of 11 management positions for the Lexington County center.
Obviously this is a childish ploy to influence the legislative process. But if it should somehow be successful, Amazon.com will have shown small businesses a new lobbying tactic—stop hiring any new employees until we get what we want from the General Assembly. With over 100,000 small businesses in South Carolina can you imagine how effective this collective “holding our breath” can be?
But back to Amazon’s media effort. Their latest postcard to Lexington County residents (from the company’s new front group—Save Our Lexington Jobs) plays off the Wal-Mart advertising campaign by saying “building the economy in Lexington County has fallen victim to a Wal-Mart ROLLBACK.”
However, the word “rollback” is not what most small businesses across the state are interested in. They want to know if Amazon.com will blackmail our Legislature to ROLLOVER.