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House OKs Tax Moratorium, Senate May Not Follow Quickly<@VM>Senate Panel Approves Cyberscholarships<@VM>House Bill Would Bar Internet Access Fee

By Kerry Gildea

The House, by a 352-75 vote, May 10 passed the Internet Non-Discrimination Act (H.R. 3709) that extends an existing moratorium on new Internet taxes. But it could be some time before the Senate goes along with the idea.

The Senate Commerce Committee has yet to take up the bill, and a number of senators have complained they do not fully understand the bill's goal and how far it will go in removing the authority of individual states to collect Internet taxes.

At least one industry group gave a nod to the House action. The vote "helps create the breathing room needed to address thorny issues, such as taxable presence, while sustaining the growth and vitality of the Internet," Harris Miller, president of the Information Technology Association of America, said in a statement. "We hope that as Congress creates a coherent national tax policy in this area, lawmakers will adopt a comprehensive approach which addresses tax simplification, while eliminating the long out-of-date federal telecommunications excise taxes as well as taxes on Internet access."

The House-approved bill extends the current moratorium on new, special and discriminatory Internet taxes that was enacted in October 1998 for five years. And it eliminates state taxes on Internet access regardless of when the tax was created.

"Our children should not be taxed for researching school projects online," said Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., the bill's chief sponsor. "The Internet must remain unfettered by burdensome taxes and regulation to ensure continued growth and innovation in the 21st century."By Kerry Gildea

The Senate Armed Services Committee, drafting its version of the fiscal 2001 defense authorization bill, has provided $76.8 million to address the threat of cyberattack and create a new Security Scholarship Program.

The goal of the scholarship program is to recruit and retain Defense Department personnel with computer and network security skills.

The bill also calls for creating an Institute for Defense Computer Security and Information Protection to conduct research and critical technology development and to facilitate the exchange of information between the government and the private sector.By Kerry Gildea

The House Commerce Committee May 10 passed via voice vote a bill that prevents the Federal Communications Commission from requiring that Internet service providers charge consumers access fees similar to the access fees now paid by residences for long-distance telephone service.

While that issue cleared the House panel during the markup of its fiscal 2001 spending bill, the committee rejected an amendment offered by Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass., that would also prohibit per-minute charges on Internet voice transmissions.

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