Montgomery Advertiser on abortion legislation:
If Republican lawmakers don't want their dominance of the Alabama Legislature to be a one-term flash in the pan, they should run as fast as they can from a bill introduced by one of their GOP cohorts that would require women to undergo an invasive procedure to get an abortion.
In fact, they should drop this bill completely and hope that most women voters — and a lot of sympathetic male voters as well — forget it before the next election cycle.
The bill by Sen. Clay Scofield, R-Guntersville, would require a doctor or registered technician to perform an obstetric ultrasound on a woman before she could give her consent to having an abortion. Then the woman would be required to view the ultrasound, whether she wants to or not, before proceeding.
That part of an “informed consent” bill is reason enough to kill it. But the legislation doesn't stop there. It goes on to say that an ultrasound transducer could have to be inserted into the woman's vagina if that “would display the embryo or fetus more clearly.” ...
If this bill goes forward, Republican legislators can expect a backlash of enormous proportions from women in the state. Our prediction is that many women won’t just be voting against Republicans who support this bill, they will be so incensed that they will be voting against all Republicans everywhere, and for a long time to come.
And their anger won't be felt just in the voting booth. They will be donating to the opponents of Republicans, and probably even stopping on the sides of the state’s roadways to rip down Republican signs. We would not be surprised if many of them even threaten their husbands with bodily harm if the husbands support Republicans.
And we would bet that a significant number of those women upset over this bill will be voters who otherwise would tend to support GOP candidates.
It's hard to imagine a bill better designed to stir the ire of women than this one. ...
The Huntsville Times on Internet tax loss:
Alabama politicians someday may be faced with a decision over whether to require online retailers to collect tens of millions of dollars in sales and use taxes slipping away every year.
According to an analysis from the University of Alabama in Birmingham, state, county and city governments are losing about $200 million a year in uncollected taxes on Internet sales, $1 billion every five years. In addition, the state is losing the potential to add 3,500 to 4,000 jobs a year because of the loss of retail sales.
State law requires residents to pay sales taxes on Internet transactions — there's a place on state income forms to report those taxes due — though relatively few people do so. ...
But many people do know better and buy off the Internet to save money on a purchase, and not just on the sales tax. Retailers report that some people use their stores as showrooms to check out an item and then go online to buy it at a discount from a big Internet retailer who can sell for less because they move a lot of merchandise. ...
The solution to this huge loss of revenue might be simple except for a 20-year-old U.S. Supreme Court ruling that retailers who have no physical presence in a state cannot be required to collect taxes on sales originating there. A bill pending in Congress would establish a national Internet sales tax.
And for state and local governments, this is a problem that will only grow larger as time goes by. Census data shows that 5 percent of all retail sales occur online... By 2020, one out of 10 purchases may be made online.
Alabama’s normally anti-tax political leaders should lobby Congress to pass a solution. There is simply too much money at stake, especially for a state living from windfall to windfall to run its prisons and provide other essential public services.