Comprehensive reform, for its supporters, means a pathway to legal status for approximately 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. That is the stumbling block to any action on tech-related immigration. There is a view that the lopsided Hispanic support for Democrats in November's election might spur Republicans to support an immigration remedy for undocumented immigrants.
It is also possible that the Senate could take up the undocumented issue separately, and forgo a comprehensive approach. There is some discussion among lawmakers about trying that approach, but getting any bill approved remains a long shot.
Internet sales tax collection debate renewed
There was a push in the lame duck session to attach Internet sales tax obligation measure to a defense authorization bill. The effort was blocked in the Senate, but this issue will return next year.
"Supporters of the measure are already promising to push for passage in 2013, and with the unholy alliance of tax collectors, state legislators, big box retailers and Amazon.com behind them, I am sure they will continue to be extremely aggressive," said Steve DelBianco, executive director of NetChoice, an industry group that believes imposing sales tax collection obligations will hurt online retailers.
Proponents may have the momentum. Massachusetts just announced that Amazon will begin collecting sales tax, starting next November. The online retailer now collects sales tax in eight states, and as it expands its tax collections, supporters of broad-based collections are feeling more confident.
The main bill, the Marketplace Fairness Act (S. 1832) requires online merchants to collect sales taxes in states where they do not have an obligation to do so today. Current law only requires online retailers to collect sales tax in states where they have a physical presence.
Anti-offshoring bill unlikely to return
Anti-offshoring bills remain a staple in state houses, and sometimes in Congress. The leading federal measure was the U.S. Call Center and Consumer Protection Act (H.R. 3596). A Senate companion bill is S. 3402.
That bill would have required call center workers to disclose their location if a customer asked them where they were calling from. It also included a provision that would have required companies to provide a 120-day notice when setting up a call center overseas. Companies that relocated call centers from the United States to another country would become ineligible for federal loans and guarantees.