Letters to the Editor

The underlying protectionism by the state legislature is a clear violation of the Interstate Commerce Clause of the Constitution

Dear Editor,

In your July 9, 2010 article, “Lawsuit filed over recent Internet sales tax bill,” Rep. Jack Pommer mistakenly tries to connect Direct Marketing Association’s work on federal privacy legislation with DMA’s lawsuit against Colorado over the new law requiring retailers to report consumers’ online purchases to the Colorado Department of Revenue.

The facts are these: DMA and many other companies and groups are working with Representatives Rick Boucher, D-Va., and Cliff Stearns, R-Fla., on their bill and have been for some time. This is part of the legislative process. DMA and other groups tried to work with the Colorado legislature to avoid the situation we are in now with the lawsuit, but our efforts were rebuffed.

DMA believes consumers should have choice in managing their online activities and that a one size fits all federally mandated approach that blankets all activity on the Internet is stifling. The Colorado Legislature believes that the state has a right to know where its citizens shop and potentially what they are buying online. Conspicuously absent from the Colorado law is any option for consumers to opting out of having their purchases reported to the state, short of not buying from retailers outside of Colorado.

This underlying protectionism by the legislature is a clear violation of the Interstate Commerce Clause of the Constitution as DMA asserts in our suit, harmful to Colorado businesses in the long run and counter to the free trade marketplace on which the Colorado and American economies thrive. There are many other paths to achieve Rep. Pommer’s goal of increasing compliance with Colorado’s use tax laws, as we tried to explain while the Legislature was debating this law, unfortunately the path the legislature chose is the wrong one.

Sincerely,

Linda A. Woolley, Esq.
Executive Vice President
Government Affairs
Direct Marketing Association
Washington, D.C.