Groups May Challenge Appointments to E-Commerce Panel

Even though members of the 19-member Advisory Commission on Electronic Commerce were appointed by the House and the Senate last month, its makeup could change because some state and local groups may challenge the choices.

The group is part of the Internet Tax Freedom Act, which was signed into law last year and gives the commission 18 months to study whether and how the Internet should be taxed by state and local governments.

While the act states the commission must include 16 members appointed by Congress — eight from industry and consumer groups and eight from state and local governments — currently the commission contains 10 representatives from business and industry and six state and local representatives.

As a result, the National Association of Counties, Washington, and other groups are concerned the commission will be biased toward industry. Local leaders may take the issue to court or appointees may change their choices, but neither action has been taken so far.

Currently, the commission includes the following consumer and business representatives: Grover Norquist, president, Americans for Tax Reform; Richard Parsons, president and chief operating officer, Time Warner; David Pottruck, president/co-CEO, Charles Schwab; Robert Pittman, president/COO, America Online; James Barksdale, president/CEO, Netscape; John Sidgmore, vice chairman, MCI/Worldcom; Stan Sokul, consultant for the Association for Interactive Media; Michael Armstrong, chairman/CEO, AT&T; Gene Lebrun, president of the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws; and Ted Waite, chairman/CEO, Gateway.

It also includes the following state and local representatives: Gov. George Gilmore (R-VA); Dean Andahl, chairman, California Board of Equalization; Gov. Mike Leavitt (R-UT); state Rep. Paul Harris (R-VA); Gov. Gary Locke (D-WA); Mayor Ron Kirk (D-Dallas);. The commission also includes the Treasury and Commerce secretaries and the U.S. Special Trade Representative.

A two-thirds super majority — 13 of the 19 commissioners — must support a policy recommendation before it can be made to Congress.

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