- Created on 24 May 2013
- Created on 23 May 2013
The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer reports that the restaurant where Ramsey worked as a dishwasher initially created a special burger in his honor, but eateries in the city decided a larger tribute was due.
Ramsey was called a hero after helping Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight break out of the house May 6. Ariel Castro is now facing charges.
The newspaper says Ramsey was traveling and would get his “Chuck Card” when he returns.
Read more at News One.
- Created on 07 May 2013
WASHINGTON — Traditional retailers and cash-strapped states face a tough sell in the House as they lobby Congress to limit tax-free shopping on the Internet.
The Senate voted 69 to 27 Monday to pass a bill that empowers states to collect sales taxes from Internet purchases. Under the bill, states could require out-of-state retailers to collect sales taxes when they sell products over the Internet, in catalogs, and through radio and TV ads. The sales taxes would be sent to the states where a shopper lives.
Current law says states can only require retailers to collect sales taxes if the merchant has a physical presence in the state.
That means big retailers with stores all over the country like Wal-Mart, Best Buy and Target collect sales taxes when they sell goods over the Internet. But online retailers like eBay and Amazon don't have to collect sales taxes, except in states where they have offices or distribution centers.
"This bill is about fairness," said Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., the bill's main sponsor in the Senate. "It's about leveling the playing field between the brick and mortar and online companies and it's about collecting a tax that's already due. It's not about raising taxes."
The bill got bipartisan support in the Senate but faces opposition in the House, where some lawmakers regard it as a tax increase. Grover Norquist, the anti-tax advocate, and the conservative Heritage Foundation oppose the bill, and many Republicans have been wary of crossing them.
Supporters say the bill is not a tax increase. In many states, shoppers are required to pay unpaid sales tax when they file their state tax returns. However, states complain that few taxpayers comply.
"Obviously there's a lot of consumers out there that have been accustomed to not having to pay any taxes, believing that they don't have to pay any taxes," said Rep. Steve Womack, R-Ark., the bill's main sponsor in the House. "I totally understand that, and I think a lot of our members understand that. There's a lot of political difficulty getting through the fog of it looking like a tax increase."
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, has not commented publicly about the bill, giving supporters hope that he could be won over. Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, which would have jurisdiction over the bill, has cited problems with the legislation but not rejected it outright.
"While it attempts to make tax collection simpler, it still has a long way to go," Goodlatte said in a statement. Without more uniformity in the bill, he said, "businesses would still be forced to wade through potentially hundreds of tax rates and a host of different tax codes and definitions."
Goodlatte said he's "open to considering legislation concerning this topic but these issues, along with others, would certainly have to be addressed."
Internet giant eBay led the fight against the bill in the Senate, along with lawmakers from states with no sales tax and several prominent anti-tax groups. The bill's opponents say it would put an expensive obligation on small businesses because they are not as equipped as national merchandisers to collect and remit sales taxes at the multitude of state rates.
Businesses with less than $1 million in online sales would be exempt. EBay wants to exempt businesses with up to $10 million in sales or fewer than 50 employees.
"The contentious debate in the Senate shows that a lot more work needs to be done to get the Internet sales tax issue right, including ensuring that small businesses using the Internet are protected from new burdens that harm their ability to compete and grow," said Brian Bieron, eBay's senior director of global public policy.
Some states have sales taxes as high as 7 percent, plus city and county taxes that can push the combined rate even higher.
Many governors — Republicans and Democrats — have been lobbying the federal government for years for the authority to collect sales taxes from online sales.
The issue is getting bigger for states as more people make purchases online. Last year, Internet sales in the U.S. totaled $226 billion, up nearly 16 percent from the previous year, according to government estimates.
States lost a total of $23 billion last year because they couldn't collect taxes on out-of-state sales, according to a study done for the National Conference of State Legislatures, which has lobbied for the bill. About half of that was lost from Internet sales; half from purchases made through catalogs, mail orders and telephone orders, the study said.
Supporters say the bill makes it relatively easy for Internet retailers to comply. States must provide free computer software to help retailers calculate sales taxes, based on where shoppers live. States must also establish a single entity to receive Internet sales tax revenue, so retailers don't have to send it to individual counties or cities.
Opponents worry the bill would give states too much power to reach across state lines to enforce their tax laws. States could audit out-of-state businesses, impose liens on their property and, ultimately, sue them in state court.
- Created on 22 May 2013
- Created on 26 April 2013
WASHINGTON — Legislation to end furloughs of air traffic controllers and delays for millions of travelers is headed to a House vote after a dark-of-night vote in the Senate that took place after most lawmakers had left the Capitol for a weeklong vacation.
The bill passed late Thursday without even a roll call vote, and House officials indicated it likely would be brought up for quick approval there.
Under the legislation, the Federal Aviation Administration would gain authority to transfer up to $253 million from accounts that are flush into other programs, to "prevent reduced operations and staffing" through the Sept. 30 end of the fiscal year.
In addition to restoring full staffing by controllers, Senate officials said the available funds should be ample enough to prevent the closure of small airport towers around the country. The FAA has said it will shut the facilities as it makes its share of $85 billion in across-the-board spending cuts — known as the sequester — that took effect last month at numerous government agencies.
The Senate acted as the FAA said there had been at least 863 flights delayed on Wednesday "attributable to staffing reductions resulting from the furlough."
Administration officials participated in the negotiations that led to the deal and evidently registered no objections.
After the vote, White House press secretary Jay Carney said, "It will be good news for America's traveling public if Congress spares them these unnecessary delays. But ultimately, this is no more than a temporary Band-Aid that fails to address the overarching threat to our economy posed by the sequester's mindless, across-the-board cuts."
Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, a key participant in the talks, said the legislation would "prevent what otherwise would have been intolerable delays in the air travel system, inconveniencing travelers and hurting the economy."
Senate approval followed several hours of pressure-filled, closed-door negotiations, and came after most senators had departed the Capitol on the assumption that the talks had fallen short.
Officials said a small group of senators insisted on a last-ditch effort at an agreement before Congress adjourned for a vacation that could have become politically problematic if the flight delays continued.
"I want to do it right now. There are other senators you'd have to ask what the hang-up is," Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., said at a point when it appeared no compromise would emerge.
For the White House and Senate Democrats, the discussions on legislation relating to one relatively small slice of the $85 billion in spending cuts marked a shift in position in a long-running struggle with Republicans over budget issues. Similarly, the turn of events marked at least modest vindication of a decision by the House GOP last winter to finesse some budget struggles in order to focus public attention on the across-the-board cuts in hopes they would gain leverage over President Barack Obama.
The Professional Aviation Safety Specialists, a union that represents FAA employees, reported a number of incidents it said were due to the furloughs.
In one case, it said several flights headed for Long Island MacArthur Airport in New York were diverted on Wednesday when a piece of equipment failed. "While the policy for this equipment is immediate restoral, due to sequestration and furloughs it was changed to next-day restoral," the union said.
It added it was "learning of additional impacts nationwide, including open watches, increased restoration times, delays resulting from insufficient funding for parts and equipment, modernization delays, missed or deferred preventative maintenance, and reduced redundancy."