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Salem, OR -- After months of grassroots lobbying by Oregon Citizens for a Sound Economy (OR CSE) and its 9,000 dedicated activists, Governor Kitzhaber finally signed into law SB 660, the Internet Tax Ban of 2001. The original bill, authored by Oregon Citizens for a Sound Economy and sponsored by state Senator Jason Atkinson and Representative Bruce Starr, originally intended to ban all forms of Internet taxes, but the final bill only bans access taxes due to a threat by the governor to veto the bill if sales taxes were included in the bill’s language. OR CSE’s effort to ban Internet taxes cannot be understated, for it was and still is, the only organization to lead the ban against Internet taxes in the state in order to protect Oregon consumers, businesses, and its rural communities.
Commenting on the bills passage, Russ Walker, OR CSE director, stated, "SB 660 is a simple bill that protects consumers from those who wish to tax the Internet. New access charges would slow the growth of the Internet in rural and urban communities. Because access charges are nothing more than a tollbooth onto the information super-highway, individuals and consumers are less likely to join the Internet age. Access charges actually increase the divide between those who are connected to the Internet and those who are not."
Grassroots Education -- From the commencement of the Oregon legislative session, OR CSE educated and mobilized its activist base to fight for a complete ban on Internet taxes. Russ Walker and OR CSE conducted or participated in numerous town hall and OR CSE club meetings; Walker participated frequently on radio shows that aired throughout the state on the issue; OR CSE sponsored a radio advertisement that was broadcasted for more than a week calling on the governor to ban Internet taxes; he personally conducted over a hundred legislative lobby visits with Oregon representatives and senators to discuss the importance and relevance of the issue to all Oregonians; and, finally, he testified twice before both chambers of the legislative body on the bill and its tremendous benefits that it would present to Oregon businesses, consumers and rural communities. A significant highlight of the Internet tax campaign materialized when OR CSE held its 2nd annual OR CSE Day at the Capitol in which over 200 dedicated activists stormed Salem to express their support for the bill.
Building for the Future -- Though the final bill did not include a complete ban on Internet taxes, OR CSE has built the base of support, which will help to pressure the legislature and the governor for a complete ban on Internet taxes in the next legislative session. OR CSE will continue to educate all Oregonians and its membership until a full ban on Internet taxes is established in the state.