Podcast: An Internet Sales Tax in North Dakota and Kevin Cramer Town Hall


Below is the audio from today’s radio show. If you want the audio delivered straight to your podcasting app, click here.

Jason Flohrs from Americans for Prosperity joined me to talk about SB2298, introduced by Senator Dwight Cook (R-Mandan), which would seek to collect the sales tax from companies which retail goods to customers in North Dakota but don’t have a physical presence in the state (Flohrs had a guest post about it here on SAB yesterday).

The U.S. Supreme Court, in a case that originated in North Dakota as it happens, has ruled that states can only collect the sales tax from businesses that have a physical presence. You may notice that Amazon collects the sales tax when you purchase from them. That’s because the company has located part of its operation in our state.

Technically, if you buy a product from another state, you’re supposed to remit the sales tax to the state. But since the State of North Dakota isn’t about to start checking everyone’s mail to see what you’re buying so they can collect the tax what SB2298 aims to do is go after the businesses.

[mks_pullquote align=”right” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#ffffff” txt_color=”#000000″]He described Senator Rand Paul’s recent hunt for the supposedly secret House repeal-and-replace bill as the “stuff of gadflies not serious members of Congress.” “I think it backfired on him,” Cramer added.[/mks_pullquote]

Only the Constitution, as interpreted by the Supreme Court, leaves it to the federal government to regulate interstate commerce. North Dakota can’t just go collecting taxes from a business in, say, Florida. In fact, North Dakota has made that very argument in court. When Minnesota tried to ban the sale of coal-fired North Dakota electricity to North Dakota customers, to comply with that state’s (utterly misguided) green energy mandate, our state’s lawyers rightly invoked the Constitution pointing out that the State of Minnesota cannot regulate interstate commerce.

The authors of SB2298 know they’re on dubious legal ground because the initial iteration of their bill – which did sail through the Senate – set an effective date for whenever the Supreme Court precedent on this issue might be overturned.

Needless to say, that’s not good policy.

Also Rep. Kevin Cramer joined me for his weekly talk radio town hall. We talked a lot about Obamacare. He described Senator Rand Paul’s recent hunt for the supposedly secret House repeal-and-replace bill as the “stuff of gadflies not serious members of Congress.”

“I think it backfired on him,” Cramer added.

I asked him why the bill doesn’t make more sweeping changes to Obamacare, and he blamed it on the reconciliation process. You readers will probably remember that Democrats used that process to sidestep the filibuster back when they first passed Obamacare, but there are limits to how it can be used. You can only pass things through reconciliation which impact revenues. According to Cramer, that means only certain parts of Obamacare can be changed through it.

Cramer said he expects more tweaks to be made to the House proposal before it passes, but said he and other Republicans campaigned on these changes. They were part of the “Better Way” platform Republicans touted during the 2016 elections.

Here’s the full audio:

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