Editor’s Notebook: AFP slams internet taxes, McAffrey begins Senate duties, Israeli couple shares story of “Terror to Triumph”

From the editor’s notebook: Americans for Prosperity’s Stuart Jolly is opposing legislative proposals to collect sales and use taxes on Internet transactions, Al McAffrey will assume Senate duties tomorrow (taking a ceremonial oath on Thursday), and an Israeli couple are visiting Oklahoma City to describe their lives since terrorists murdered their son.
* * * 

Americans for Prosperity (Oklahoma) circulated letters to members of the state House and Senate today (Tuesday, February 21) opposing Senate Bill 1561 and House ill 2586, measures to collect sales and use taxes on “corporations located outside the physical borders of Oklahoma.” 

Stuart A. Jolly, state director for AFP, said in a letter to Governor Mary Fallin, “Since the 1992 Supreme Court decision in Quill Corporation v. North Dakota, it has been recognized that states may only tax businesses with sufficient connection to a state (also known as ‘nexus’), typically defined by some physical presence.  To meet this standard in Oklahoma, there must be a retail location, a warehouse, a distribution center or some other physical place of business employing individuals in the state. 

“These bills seek to redefine the ‘physical presence test’ in Oklahoma to capture out-of-state businesses that utilize an in-state affiliate.  Many corporations use in-state affiliates to drive web traffic. These affiliates link potential customers directly to out-of-state websites with the out-of-state vendor handling all customer-facing activities such as purchasing, shipping and returns. In return, the in-state affiliate is paid a small commission for the referral. 

“Americans for Prosperity opposes these bills and similar efforts to redefine nexus laws to treat out-of-state retailers as in-state businesses.  These bills violate the spirit of the Supreme Court’s Quill decision and are the subject of ongoing litigation in other states. 

“More importantly, these bills are simply another attempt by the state to collect more of Oklahomans’ hard-earned dollars. According to the Tax Foundation, Oklahoma ranks 39th in ‘sales tax climate’ based on its rates and complexity.  Considering this, expanding sales taxes is exactly the wrong approach for Oklahoma to pursue.”

* * * 

Senator-elect Al McAffrey of Oklahoma City will be privately sworn into office at 9:30 tomorrow morning (Wednesday, February 22), allowing him to begin participating in committee meetings and other official business. A private reception for his family and members of the Senate will follow. 

McAffrey told CapitolBeatOK his ceremonial swearing-in for the District 43 seat will be Thursday at 2 p.m. in the state Senate chambers. 

McAffrey has represented House District 88 since 2006. He won last week’s special election to replace Andrew Rice, who resigned effective January 15. 

At least four Democrats plan to seek their party’s nomination in the inner-city House district where McAffrey has served. Known to be interested in the job are Steve Cortes, Bob Dover, Kay Floyd and Matt Harney. The quartet of hopefuls each plan to attend the Oklahoma County Democrats’ weekly luncheon on Friday, February 24 at Boulevard Cafeteria, N.W. 11 and Dewey in Oklahoma City. 

Timing of a special election to complete McAffrey’s term is uncertain due to this year’s significant changes in electing timing. Filing for the November election is next month. 
* * * 

Oklahoma City’s Chabad Community Center (3000 West Hefner Road in Oklahoma City) is hosting an evening with Seth and Sherri Mandell, an Israeli couple, this Thursday (February 23) at 7 p.m.  The evening is “Terror to Triumph: One Israel couple’s story of Hope and Healing.” 

Seth is former Hillel director at Penn State University and the University of Maryland. Sherri is the author of “The Blessing of a Broken Heart,” and winner of at National Jewish Book Award. The Mandells won a “Partners in Peace Prize” from the Washington, D.C. chapter of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). 

The Mandells are co-founders of the Koby Mandell Foundation, created after their son was murdered in 2001. The foundation works “to provide emotional support for families in Israel whose loved ones were murdered by terrorists.” 

The center is located at 3000 W. Hefner Road, RSVP is required at www.MandellEventOKC.com, or for more information telephone 405-286-0900. The event is open to the public at no charge. A special patron event will be held at 6 p.m., and costs $118 per person. 

Host committee for the event includes the community center, OU Hillel, Jewish Federation of Greater Oklahoma City, Jew Crew, Oklahoma National Memorial & Museum, Temple B’nai Israel and Zions Gate International.