Republican House Finance Chairman Charles Sargent of Franklin agreed to delay the measure. The Senate Finance Committee later followed suit and delayed its version of the bill next year.
Both state representatives from Bradley County expressed appreciation of Sargent for taking legislation off the calendar that would have forced Amazon.com to collect Tennessee sales taxes on items sold within the state.
Assistant Majority Leader Kevin Brooks and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Eric Watson said H.B. 136 would have jeopardized an agreement between the state of Tennessee and Amazon and the thousands of jobs the Internet retailer is bringing to Bradley County, Hamilton County and surrounding areas.
The action came a day after Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam issued a statement opposing the bill.
Amazon Vice President of North America Operations Dave Clark said in a statement the Seattle-based company was “grateful to the Tennessee government for recognizing the jobs and investment Amazon will bring to the state.”
Brooks said, “Amazon is going to be a strong partner for job growth in Tennessee for many years to come. I am incredibly pleased our Finance Chairman came to an agreement to roll this legislation off the calendar so we can focus on solidifying our agreement with Amazon. Furthermore, I believe we can now focus on recruiting other top tier companies and expand existing ones to create more job opportunities for our citizens.
Watson said, “I am grateful all sides could come together on this issue and arrive at a conclusion that best represents the interests of our state. While I understand and respect the perspectives of a few of my colleagues, I believe it is more important that Tennessee is always able to keep her commitments. I am thankful for the members that chose to join me in these efforts. This vote puts to rest any notion that we will go back on our promise to Amazon.”
The story of the online retailer began innocuously enough in November 2010 when Bradley County Planning Commissioners approved a zoning change on 115 acres near the Charleston exit off Interstate 75. The commissioners unanimously approved rezoning the property owned by Herb Adcox from Forestry/Agricultural/Residential to General Industrial. All that was known then was that the zoning request was made by Seefried Industrial Properties for an estimated 1 million square-foot warehouse/distribution center.
Watson said, “Now we can move on to showing the hospitality our state is so well known for and properly welcome Amazon. This Fortune 100 Company will invest well over $130 million dollars into our economy and employ thousands of Tennesseans — a much-needed boost in this slow economy.”
Amazon recently announced it was hiring in its fulfillment centers located in Bradley and Hamilton counties. A Wednesday press release stated 4,300 people applied for the job in the first three days after hiring details were made public.
“Last fall, this majority was put in place because Tennesseans wanted a government that paves the way for job growth in the private sector,” Brooks said. “Today’s action sends a strong message we are committed to that mandate. Bradley County and all of Tennessee will benefit from our united vision to make Tennessee the top destination for high-quality jobs in the South.”
Watson said, “Amazon and all the great companies that come to our part of Tennessee are discovering something all of us knew already: Bradley County is open for business. I know Bradley County and East Tennessee are thankful for the partnership with Amazon and we all look forward to the day they start shipping out orders.”
Slightly more than a month later, it was revealed Amazon.com was expected to begin work on the 1 million square-foot fulfillment center by the middle of December and be ready to start shipping Christmas orders.
“Most importantly, today’s courageous action demonstrates Tennessee’s integrity across the country,” Brooks said. “We gave our word — and we are keeping our word. This is a very important example for the next generation of Tennesseans.”