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  • Meagan Dorsch
    Director of Public Affairs
  • Jon Kuhl
    Public Affairs Specialist
    Washington, DC
Aug. 17, 2011

Bipartisan Group of State Legislators Urges Congress to Treat Retailers Fairly

Legislators hold press conference in support of Main Street Fairness Act

Ten state legislators (seven Republicans and three Democrats), representing eight states, called on their lawmaker colleagues in Congress to pass the Main Street Fairness Act, which was introduced recently in the Senate by Senator Richard Durbin of Illinois and in the House by Representatives John Conyers of Michigan and Peter Welch of Vermont. The legislators held the press conference during the National Conference of Legislatures’ (NCSL) 2011 Legislative Summit in San Antonio, Texas.

Speaking for the group, State Senator Luke Kenley (R-Ind.), State Senator Pam Althoff (R-Ill.) and State Representative Jay Kaufmann (D-Mass.) said that “brick-and-mortar” retailers are unfairly disadvantaged because they are required to collect sales taxes owed by consumers while their online, mail-order and telephone competitors are not.

If passed, the Main Street Fairness Act will remove the burdens to interstate commerce that were of concern to the Supreme Court in the 1967 Bellas Hess case and the 1992 Quill v. North Dakota case. Through these cases, the Supreme Court acknowledged consumers owe the sales tax when they purchase goods through catalogs or over the Internet, but ruled states cannot force retailers to collect the tax. This legislation will overturn these decisions and authorize states to collect sales taxes on out-of-state sales.

Senator Kenley is president of the Streamlined Sales Tax Governing Board, composed of 24 states that have simplified their sales tax laws in conformance with the Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Agreement. Five of the eight states represented at the news conference are members of the governing board. Senator Althoff (R-Ill.) and Delegate Sheila Hixon (D-Md.), both representing nonmember states, said their states stand ready to conform to the streamlined agreement as soon as Congress acts.

Click here to read the press release announcing NCSL’s support for the Main Street Fairness Act.


NCSL is a bipartisan organization that serves the legislators and staffs of the states, commonwealths and territories. It provides research, technical assistance and opportunities for policymakers to exchange ideas on the most pressing state issues and is an effective and respected advocate for the interests of the states in the American federal system.