It's a bipartisan bill introduced yesterday by Senators Dick Durbin (D-Ill), Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn), and Mike Enzi (R-Wyo). The Senators say that the bill is meant to close loopholes that online retailers have to get around paying sales tax, primarily because of existing law that says only companies that have physical locations in that state need to charge tax (so as a Minnesotan, I wouldn't pay sales tax on Amazon but I would if I bought from Apple because it has stores here). The new bill throws a lot of power to the states, letting them decide whether to collect taxes from online retailers.
"The legislation addresses a states' rights issue: preserving the right of states to collect - or to decide not to collect - taxes that are already owed under state law," Sen. Alexander said in a statement.
"Most small business people don't want a government handout. They don't want special treatment. They just want to be able to compete fairly against other businesses," Sen. Durbin said
As you might have expected, physical retailer lobbying groups love the bill, online retail lobbying groups hate it. But here's something you might not have expected: Amazon is in favor of it. Amazon has taken a position as of late that it's no longer opposed to charging sales tax (like it used to be) but it just wants a comprehensive law to clarify it. Now, it says, it has that law.
Durbin introduced something similar last summer but it didn't get far. This one is expected to do much better with the GOP on board.