FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Tim O'Brien
HAZEL PARK. Governor Engler and the Republican hierarchy in the state legislature were dealt a stunning setback yesterday in their plans to facilitate collecting Michigan's 6% tax on Internet purchases.
And the Libertarian Party, long-time champion of free trade and lower taxes generally, opponent of the stalled "Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Administration Act" particularly, is celebrating the success of its first, concerted, coordinated, multi-pronged lobbying effort, as the legislature adjourned for the summer without taking any action on the bill.
The LP began its campaign against Internet taxation more than a year ago with two weeks of radio advertising opposing the idea when it was first being advocated by Republican Governor John Engler.
In recent months party officials testified against the current bill at both senate at house committee hearings. A few weeks ago an op-ed opposing the bill was distributed to newspapers across the state. Party members were encouraged to call or write their legislators. And the LP-sponsored but nonpartisan SpeakOutMichigan.org web-based petitioning utility was also activated, generating more than 300 e-mails to legislators.
"Of course," O'Brien hastened to add, "credit for this victory must be shared with state representatives Robert Gosselin (R-Troy) and Leon Drolet (R-Clinton Township). They may not be Libertarians," he said, "but they are certainly champions of liberty."
The two Republicans both serve on the house Tax Policy committee (which never reported out the bill). "Representatives Gosselin and Drolet were unflagging in their commitment to smaller, less expensive, less intrusive government," O'Brien praised, "and tireless in their efforts within the legislature to rally opposition to SB-433. We are grateful for the courage they have shown in standing up to their party's establishment."
This success by the LP and the two maverick Republicans represents a substantial embarrassment to Michigan's Governor, a vocal proponent of the idea of adopting a reciprocal sales tax compact among the states. Engler is poised to assume the chairmanship of the National Governors Association in August, unable to sell his pet proposal in his home state -- with his own party in control of all three branches of government.
The Michigan Libertarians have vowed to make Cyberspace a free trade zone and joined this fight against Internet taxation with an almost religious zeal. "We know this is just one battle," O'Brien said, "essentially, only a holding action. The Republicans have already promised to bring [SB-433] back as soon as the legislature reconvenes in September. But they will find us still standing our ground, throwing sand in the gears of the government juggernaut. We think back to our grandparents' time and wish they would have stood firm back then against the income tax proposal. Well," he concluded, "this is our time. We will not let our grandchildren down."