I had noted her being recognized earlier, and now in their latest issue Governing Magazine explains why they’ve chosen South Dakota State Senator Deb Peters as one of their public officials of the year:
In South Dakota, Peters has watched her state — which does not tax income and is thus dependent on the sales tax — see a steady decline in sales tax growth. She has testified multiple times before Congress on the issue and has been a leader in the so-called streamlined sales tax effort to make state tax codes similar to one another so that paying online sales taxes would be simpler for retailers.
Finally, the impatient Peters got tired of waiting on Congress. This year, in consultation with the governor and state attorney general, she wrote and shepherded through legislation that allows South Dakota to make online sales tax collections. Anticipating a lawsuit, the legislation was written in a way that fast-tracks the case through the courts. That was prescient: The first day the law went into effect, retailers immediately obliged by suing. It’s possible the case will make its way to the U.S. Supreme Court as early as next year. Considering the gridlock in Congress on the issue, it represents a chance, however uncertain, for states to see a reversal of the court’s 1992 decision that limited them to taxing only those sales by retailers based within their borders.
Peters is president-elect of the National Conference of State Legislatures, and she has used her position at NCSL to make a broader push on the sales tax front. This year, 34 bills in 22 states have been introduced that would let states collect sales taxes from online transactions. About a half-dozen of those bills have moved forward, although South Dakota was the first state to enact a law. “She’s clearly a leader on this issue and doesn’t take the easy way out,” says Bill Pound, executive director of NCSL. “The reason South Dakota was so fast at [getting the case to court] was because of her.”
Again, congratulations Deb.