Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse are in full support of a bill that would require retailers without a physical presence in a state to collect state and local sales taxes, which they are currently exempt from doing. These businesses, referred to as “remote retailers,” sell their products online and through catalogues to people across state lines, and the absence of these taxes makes their total prices cheaper than those of the local competition. If passed, the law is predicted to increase Rhode Island’s revenue by as much as $70 million.
In other news, proposed changes to the state pension system continue to meet opposition from local lawmakers. Representative Scott Guthrie (D-Coventry), a vocal opponent of the new system outlined in the pending bill, criticized General Treasurer Gina Raimondo for making mathematical mistakes in a recent presentation and recommended that the state hire an actuary to more thoroughly review the plan’s specific numbers. Guthrie has also accused the treasurer’s office of reportedly withholding requested information — more specifically, a breakdown of the state’s expenditures on pension benefits from the 1930s to the early 1990s. Sounds particularly relevant to the discussion in 2011.
And in what is sure to be the best use of everyone’s time, the Newport police are continuing to work with officials at Salve Regina University to identify a student who allegedly killed a rabbit with a hockey stick outside his apartment on November 4. Officials at the Catholic institution have described the incident as being “contrary to the university’s values.” Finally, in sports: as the Providence Journal’s excessive front-page website coverage confirms, the New England Patriots went on a second-half surge to beat the New York Jets 37-16 and stay on top of the AFC East Sunday night. Here’s to hoping they can’t do it again if/when there’s more on the line this winter!