The online sales site eBay is taking exception to Gov. Paul LePage’s support for federal legislation making it easier for states to reap sales taxes from online purchases.

eBay’s government relations director, Brian Bieron, told LePage in a letter last week that policymakers should “ensure that they protect small business retailers in Internet sales tax legislation.”

LePage earlier this month sent a letter to GOP Sens.Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine asking them to support the Marketplace Fairness Act authored by Sen. Michael Enzi, R-Wyoming.

LePage said the bill would create a more level playing field in Maine by requiring online businesses to collect Maine sales taxes the same way bricks and mortar Maine retailers do currently.

Adrienne Bennett, LePage’s spokeswoman, points out that the Enzi bill, which is the legislation LePage supports, already exempts businesses with less than $500,000 in gross sales.

But eBay noted there are a variety of internet sales tax bills pending in Congress and says it supports a “robust” exemption that would be set by the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Under current laws, consumers are supposed to voluntarily pay state taxes on online purchases, but rarely do.

Neither Collins nor Snowe is a co-sponsor of the legislation. The Maine senators intend to review the legislation and discuss it with LePage and others, their offices said.

Schneider heads to DC

Maine Attorney General William Schneider plans to be in Washington this week for Supreme Court arguments over the constitutionatlity of President Barack Obama’s health care reform law.

Schneider, a Republican U.S. Senate candidate, will observe the proceedings with other attorneys general on Wednesday, the third and final day of oral arguments.

Maine and 25 other states have signed a brief arguing that the law’s individual mandate to purchase health insurance coverage is unconstitutional.

Meanwhile, state Rep. Sharon Anglin Treat, D-Hallowell, a proponent of the health care law, says she will be lining up early Monday morning outside the Supreme Court in an effort to get one of the seats available to the general public. Treat says she wants to “cheer on the legal team arguing to uphold the constitutionality of this law.”

Collins in minority

Collins was one of just three Republicans to vote last week for a failed amendment to extend the life of the Export-Import Bank of the United States, and expand the amount of money it can use to finance the export of U.S. goods and services to overseas markets.

Collins and Sens. Scott Brown of Massachusetts and Dean Heller of Nevada voted with Democrats to extend the bank’s authority past May 31 and increase its lending limit to $140 billion from $100 billion.

Democrats sought to attach the amendment to an unrelated bill easing regulations on small businesses seeking to raise capital.

Collins said in an interview last week that she favored the Ex-Im Bank amendment because the bank has provided critical financing to Maine-based manufacturers, including Prime Tanning Company, Trenton Bridge Lobster Pound and General Electric. In all, the bank has providing more than $64.5 million worth of financing to Maine companies since 2007, according to bank figures furnished to Collins.

Meanwhile, more Republicans have indicated they are willing to consider the Ex-Im Bank reauthorization and expansion as separate legislation.

Collins has USPS concerns

Collins says the U.S. Postal Service is heading down a “disastrously” flawed path of misguided cuts to facilities and services that will cost it customers.

She says she worries that the Postal Service’s current plan of action could undermine a bipartisan reform bill she and several other senators are crafting.

“I hope my concerns can be addressed,” Collins said on the Senate floor last week. “But for now, is it futile to move ahead on postal reform legislation? If the Postmaster General chases away his customer base with price hikes and service cuts before we can enact legislation will our bill be effective in saving the Postal Service?”

Collins criticized the Postal Service last month when it announced that it would stop processing mail in Hampden and move that operation to a processing facility in Scarborough after mid-May, part of a nationwide consolidation of mail-processing facilities that will likely slow the delivery of first-class mail.

Jonathan Riskind — 791-6280

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