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Travel Tech: TN Tourism, Travel Threatened by New Tax on Travel Services

Press release from The Travel Technology Association; March 8, 2013:

NASHVILLE, TN, March 8, 2013—In a potential blow to Tennessee travel and tourism, state Senator Doug Overbey and state Representatives Art Swann and Steve McDaniel have sponsored legislation that would impose a new tax on travelers who use the services of online travel companies and brick and mortar travel agents.

The legislation would apply state sales taxes and county and local hotel occupancy taxes to the service fees of traditional and online travel agents that facilitate reservations for Tennessee hotel room transactions. The move would raise prices for consumers and jeopardize Tennessee hotels’ ability to provide competitive travel deals.

The new service tax bills, Senate Bill 212 and House Bill 678, directly contradict decisions made in dozens of states and courts nationwide—including a 2012 decision by the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee—which in recent years have soundly rejected similar travel service taxes as being inapplicable as OTCs do not operate hotels.

State legislatures across the nation—such as those in Virginia, Florida, Texas, Pennsylvania, Utah, Oregon, Missouri, Connecticut, and Massachusetts—have examined adding new travel taxes in recent years, and have overwhelmingly recognized that application of these unconstitutional taxes immediately makes a state less competitive for travel and tourism.

While aimed at out-of-state visitors, this new tax would equally impact Tennessee residents looking to book their in-state travel through online and traditional travel agents.

“Tennessee officials have been conned by special interest groups into thinking it is good public policy to trade a short-term cash grab for long-term economic stability. Passage of S.B. 212 and H.B. 678 will make Tennessee less competitive for tourism dollars. The sponsors might as well title this bills, ‘The Kentucky Tourism Stimulus Act,’” said Simon Gros, Chairman of Travel Tech: the Travel Technology Association.

About Travel Tech

The Travel Technology Association, or Travel Tech, is the association for online travel companies (OTCs) and global distribution systems (GDSs), and is dedicated to connecting consumers and travel providers, eliminating barriers to travel and protecting consumers. Travel Tech’s members include: Amadeus, Expedia, Orbitz Worldwide, Priceline, Travelocity, Travelport and Vegas.com.

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NFIB Picks Favorite Incumbents to Support In August Primary

Press Release from the National Federation of Independent Business, Tennessee Chapter; July 6, 2012: 

NFIB Endorses Candidates in 5 Senate, 20 House Primaries

NASHVILLE, July 6, 2012 – The National Federation of Independent Business, Tennessee’s leading small business association, today said it has endorsed candidates in 25 state legislative primary races. The endorsements were made by NFIB/Tennessee SAFE (Save America’s Free Enterprise) Trust, which is comprised exclusively of NFIB members. State primaries are scheduled for Thursday, Aug. 2, with early voting beginning July 13 and ending July 28. NFIB expects to announce general election endorsements later this summer. The general election will be held Nov. 6.

“NFIB supports candidates who understand how important it is to reduce burdens on small business,” said Jim Brown, state director of NFIB/Tennessee. “These candidates have consistently supported less taxation and have worked diligently to improve our unemployment and workers’ comp systems.”

Endorsements by Senate and House Districts (NFIB members bolded)

Senate District, Name

2, Doug Overbey

14, Jim Tracy

18, Ferrell Haile

28, Joey Hensley

32, Mark Norris

House District Name

2, Tony Shipley

5, David Hawk

6, Dale Ford

8, Art Swann

10, Don Miller

11, Jeremy Faison

12, Richard Montgomery

20, Bob Ramsey

22, Eric Watson

24, Kevin Brooks

27, Richard Floyd

31, Jim Cobb

45, Debra Maggart

48, Joe Carr

61, Charles Sargent

66, Joshua Evans

71, Vance Dennis

90, John DeBerry

96, Steve McManus

99, Ron Lollar

NFIB’s endorsement is critical to these campaigns. Small business owners and their employees vote in high numbers and are known for actively recruiting friends, family members and acquaintances to go to the polls. NFIB has pledged it will activate its grassroots network on behalf of these campaigns. NFIB’s political support is based on the candidates’ positions and records on small business issues.