ABA Advocacy Staff Visit Washington, D.C.

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Last week, the American Booksellers Association’s advocacy staff visited Washington, D.C., to meet with free expression organizations and to discuss antitrust enforcement and the implementation of economic nexus laws with key legislators.

On Wednesday, October 17, ABA Director of ABFE, Advocacy and Public Policy Dave Grogan and ABA Advocacy and Public Policy Coordinator Maria Peroni met with legislative staff from a number of key Senate offices. Discussions focused on the implementation of state economic nexus laws — laws that require an out-of-state seller that reaches a certain number of sales or revenue in a state to collect and remit tax to that state — in the wake of the South Dakota v. Wayfair U.S. Supreme Court decision; how the Wayfair decision affects online third-party marketplaces; and the necessity that economic nexus laws provide sufficient small-business protections.

“We are pleased that states are now rolling out economic nexus laws to level the playing field for their in-state retailers,” said Grogan. “That said, the focus now is on how these laws are rolled out. Federal legislators are watching carefully to see if any issues arise for which there would be a need for federal legislation. Given that, our message to key lawmakers is that it’s important that the issues and concerns of independent bookstores be heard. We stressed that the spirit of the Supreme Court decision was not to burden small businesses that make an occasional out-of-state sale, but rather to ensure that retailers with national business models collect and remit sales tax.”

ABA additionally met with staff from the office of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) to discuss antitrust enforcement and barriers to entry for small and independent businesses. Last month, in an interview with Andrew Ross Sorkin, Sen. Warren expressed concern about Amazon’s role as both a marketplace for businesses and a competitor to those same businesses, arguing that “if you’re getting a huge competitive advantage from being a platform provider because of all this information you’ve been scraping, then we no longer have competition going on.”

The day before the Capitol Hill meetings, Grogan and Peroni attended a meeting of the Free Expression Network (FEN), of which ABA is a member. FEN, an alliance of organizations dedicated to protecting the First Amendment right of free expression, meets quarterly to discuss and debate complex First Amendment issues; this meeting particularly focused on political speech and campaign expression.