Amazon tax break debated outside State House

Group gathered at State House Tuesday. / Cheryn Stone

COLUMBIA (WACH) -- Is there a possible lifeline for in Lexington County?

A proposal that would give the online retailer a sales tax exemption is expected to be re-introduced into the House this week as soon as Wednesday. And as expected, the pot is being stirred.

Lexington County Republican Party Chairman Rich Bolen spoke out in favor of the Amazon deal Tuesday.

"We really need to let the legislature know that we need jobs in South Carolina and in the Midlands," explains Bolen.

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In an effort to encourage the legislature to take the necessary steps to get Amazon to come to Lexington County, Bolen organized a press conference "to demonstrate Lexington County's support for the project".

Several speakers spoke at the press conference in favor of the Amazon deal.

Rep. Kenny Bingham said, The only way the playing field is ever leveled is to get them here in the state where they create the nexus and to get them here it requires us to live up to the agreement that commerce, not the General Assembly, the Department of Commerce struck with Amazon.

He was briefly interrupted by chants from protestors.

January 1, 2016, when this provision would sunset, at that point in time they would collect and remit the taxes that everybody else has to tax and remit in the state of South Carolina it is the same deal that was done for QVC," Bingham added.

Rep. Bingham expressed his support for brining Amazon telling supporters it would bring more than 1,250 full time jobs with a $61 million payroll and over 1 million dollars annually in property taxes going back ino the schools in Lexington County.

Rep. Todd Rutherford also spoke in favor of Amazon saying, "the last time the Midlands had an economic development project of this magnitude was in 1978 and I TMve said that over and over again; those people that are out there in search for a job, those people out there who are searching for hope, hope is coming."

"I TMm not here because of tax breaks or for tea parties I TMm here because I believe that when the state of South Carolina makes a promise that promise should be kept," said Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin.

"We all need to be working together state wide creating jobs people in our state truly are hurting with record unemployment we can make a difference lets keep our promise and create jobs at Amazon," U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson says.

Tea Party members opposing the Amazon deal also rallied at the State House Tuesday morning.

Cory Norris, Lexington Tea Party founder, said, "We want Amazon to come we just want Amazon to come and play by the same rules the rest of us do."

Brian Flynn with the South Carolina Alliance for Main Street Fairness attended the rally to say, "we want Amazon to come here but we don TMt want them to have an unfair advantage over small business retailers in South Carolina."

What do you think about lawmakers revisiting the Amazon tax exemption? Are you in favor of the exemption or against it?