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News Briefs

Clinton Says States Should Be Allowed to Tax Net Sales


President Clinton told the nation’s governors Monday that states should be allowed to tax the sales of items bought via the Internet, placing him at odds with some GOP presidential candidates and advocates of unfettered online commerce.

While stopping short of advocating such a sales tax himself, the president said the federal government should not stand in the way if states decide the same levies they apply to in-store purchases should apply to products bought on or similar online companies.

He also told the nation’s governors they should not wait five years to decide the controversial taxation issue, as some have urged.

Clinton moved cautiously in addressing the contentious question of whether purchases from online companies should keep their tax-free status.

Previously the Clinton administration had cited “troubling questions” about a proposed moratorium on even considering such a tax. But the White House was a bit more definitive Monday.

Clinton met privately in the White House with several dozen governors, in town for the National Governors’ association meeting, and urged them to tackle the sales tax question “sooner rather than later,” participants said.

Some Bracing for Round 2 of Y2K Problem on Leap Day 2000


Just when it seemed that the Y2K issue had come and gone, Feb. 29 comes along.

The federal government and several other Y2K watchers are standing ready over the next couple of days just in case computer programmers overlooked the fact that the year 2000 is a leap year.

“We do not think that this issue is as significant as the Jan. 1 rollover,” said Jack Gribben, spokesman for the President’s Council on Year 2000 Conversion. But “enough people probably made the mistake in programming that we may have some glitches.”

The Y2K Council will again rely on its $50 million command center two blocks from the White House to make sure critical government and private-sector systems are working normally.

The Information Coordination Center, as it’s called, won’t be staffed around the clock like it was around New Year’s but about 150 personnel from federal agencies will be on hand over two seven-hour shifts from Tuesday through Thursday.

Overlooking the Feb. 29 date, officials said, could cause errors in cases where the number of days in a month is critical, such as in calculating interest, setting due dates and scheduling some events.