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Senate to make final decision on Marketplace Fairness Act May 6

BY Michael Johnsen

WASHINGTON — The Marketplace Fairness Act is one step closer to passing. The Senate voted 63-30 Thursday to end debate on the bill, which would compel online retailers to collect state taxes, and will make a final decision on the bill on May 6. 

Many Congress leaders expressed concern that attaching a "Yes" vote to this bill may be seen by their constituents as a tax increase, according to a report published Friday in the Washington Post. Though the bill only enables states to collect sales taxes already owed them. 

“[The] vote in the Senate is proof that the special treatment of big online businesses at the expense of retailers on Main Street will soon be a thing of the past,” stayted Bill Hughes, SVP government affairs for the Retail Industry Leaders Association. “For too long the Main Street retailers that are an integral part of their communities have faced tax rules that put them at a disadvantage to their out of state, online-only competitors," Hughes said. "The Marketplace Fairness Act would simply provide states with the power, if they choose to use it, to ensure that the market, not government, determines winners and losers."

The Marketplace Fairness Act was outlined in RILA’s 2013 public policy agenda as one of the top priorities for the industry. 

Identical legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives introduced by Rep. Steve Womack, R-Ark. and Jackie Speier, D-Calif., has likewise generated strong bipartisan support, Hughes noted. 


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NASP appoints Thomas Blissenbach to board of directors

BY Alaric DeArment

TAMPA, Fla. — Fairview Pharmacy Services director of business development Thomas Blissenbach has been appointed to the National Association of Specialty Pharmacy’s board of directors, the NASP said.

Blissenbach has worked in hospital and alternative-site pharmacy for more than 40 years and has developed and led several ambulatory pharmacy business units since joining Fairview in 2000.

"I am honored to join my prestigeious colleagues on the board and hope to contribute my experience to advance NASP’s mission of building collaboration within the industry to improve patient outcomes," Blissenbach said.

Before working at Fairview, he had various positions at Caremark, Chronimed and HMSS, and NASP called him a "pioneer in the growth of home infusion and the evolution of specialty pharmacy."

 

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North American sales of electronics, HBA up 28.4% for Amazon

BY Michael Johnsen

SEATTLE — Amazon on Thursday reported a net sales increase of 22% to $16.1 billion for its first quarter ended March 31. Of that, $9.4 billion was sourced from the North American market. North American sales of electronics, health and beauty products, among other merchandise, reached $6.1 billion for the quarter, up 28.4%. 

During a conference call with analysts, Amazon CEO Tom Szkutak declined to confirm rumors that Amazon is investing in additional refrigeration equipment across its fulfillment center footprint with plans to expand AmazonFresh. 

"Nothing to announce here," he said. "We are very pleased with what we’ve seen in the Seattle area. It’s been a test and we continue to monitor that test carefully. It’s certainly something that we see that customers love the experience. The challenge always has been in making sure we get the economics right and that is something we will continued to focus on."

 

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