Virginia Governor Ignores Internet Tax Lawsuit, Sets June Meeting

Defacto leader of a new 19-member Advisory Commission on Electronic Commerce, Gilmore is charging forward with plans to hold an initial meeting of the group, which will ultimately set the pace for future taxation of Internet-based commerce.

The congressional advisory commission has been stalled by controversy over the balance of local government and industry appointments on the panel. In early March, the National Association of Counties (NACo) and the U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) filed a lawsuit to block the commission from meeting. Last year's Internet Tax Freedom legislation mandated the panel and imposed a three-year ban on any new e-commerce taxes.

Gilmore's overtures are a second sign in as many weeks that a majority of the group's members are prepared to defy the pending litigation and move forward with a meeting. Recently, U.S. Justice Department attorneys were poised to petition the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to drop the March 8 lawsuit on the grounds that the case has jurisdictional defects and other problems.

Gilmore has set the first meeting of the commission for June 21-22 in Williamsburg, Va. Two other meetings are tentatively slated: December in Silicon Valley, Calif., and spring 2000 in Austin, Texas.

Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk -- the only appointee recognized by NACo and USCM as a legitimate representative of local governments -- right now does not plan to attend the June meeting. A spokesman said Kirk has a prior family commitment. Other state and local appointees could not be reached for comment.

Also this week, Gilmore signed legislation that is being billed as the nation's first comprehensive state Internet policy. The new law actually started as seven separate bills to provide a range of Internet policies, including tougher penalties for Internet criminals; better tools to fight unsolicited bulk e-mail and Privacy Act protection for information collected or managed over the Internet.

"This policy will chart a new course for our nation's future, a future in which the information economy will be of vital importance to the commonwealth and the country," Gilmore said. The act also officially installs the nation's first state cabinet-level technology officer, a position currently held by Don Upson who was appointed last May.

-- Meg Misenti (meg_misenti@civic.com)

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