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Internet

Gingrich names five to Net group

The outgoing speaker of the House ties up one loose end by appointing five members to a 19-member advisory commission that will study Net taxation issues.

    Preparing to leave his post, House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Georgia) has tied up one loose end by appointing five members to an Advisory Commission on Electronic Commerce that will study Net taxation issues.

    The commission, which was set up under the Internet Tax Freedom Act, will have a total of 19 members. The Act was passed in October to establish a three-year moratorium on creating new or "discriminatory" taxes on Net access and services.

    The five appointees named by Gingrich are: Dean Andal, chairman of California's State Board of Equalization; Virginia Gov. James Gilmore; Grover Norquist, president of the public interest group Americans for Tax Reform; Richard Parsons, president of Time Warner; and David Pottruck, president and co-CEO of Charles Schwab, a member of the Internet Tax Fairness Coalition..

    Commission appointees will come together from both industry and government to study the effect of e-commerce on brick-and-mortar retail businesses, as well as local governments' ability to collect the appropriate taxes on the Net. They will examine current federal, state, and local taxes on Net access and transactions, and will report their findings to Congress in 18 months.

    "Their ideas and expertise will help guide us in making the best policies we can to allow continued growth of the Internet and electronic commerce," Gingrich said in a statement.

    The secretaries of the Treasury and Commerce Departments and the U.S. Trade Representative also will sit on the committee. The remaining public and private sector members will be chosen by Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Mississippi), Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-South Dakota), and House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt (D-Missouri).

    It has been rumored that Greg Maffei, chief financial officer of Microsoft, and Robert Pittman, president and chief operating officer of America Online, are being considered.

    Gingrich's list already includes a cross-section of the interested stakeholders in the Net tax debate.

    "Speaker Gingrich selected a talented group, well-suited to carry out the mandate of the Internet Tax Freedom Act," House Policy Chairman Christopher Cox, who co-authored the bill with Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon), said in a statement.

    He added: "With these appointments, and with his leadership in carrying the Internet Tax Freedom Act into law, the speaker has helped ensure the permanent adoption of yet another revolutionary idea: Information should not be taxed."