After a 26-year fight, sales tax fairness finally wins. Plus, another Court ruling defines the stakes for the anti-monopoly movement.  And don’t miss our new policy guide. 
The Hometown Advantage Bulletin
Listen: How Two Recent Supreme Court Decisions Impact Local Economies
Stacy Mitchell and Nick Stumo-Langer  |  June 28, 2018

Image: Podcast logo.Amid all the news from the U.S. Supreme Court in recent weeks, two rulings in particular have important implications for independent businesses and the future of efforts to check the power of big companies, especially tech giants like Amazon. In this episode of our Building Local Power podcast, ILSR's Stacy Mitchell and Nick Stumo-Langer dig into these two cases.
In the case Ohio v. American Express, the Court's 5-4 ruling has both immediate and long-term implications for monopoly power. Its direct impact is to give credit card companies wide latitude to extract fees from merchants and consumers, while its broader impact is to advance a theory that will make it more difficult for the government to bring cases against "platform" monopolies like Amazon. Nick and Stacy discuss the case, and where the anti-monopoly movement goes next.
In the case South Dakota v. Wayfair, Inc., the Court granted states the authority to require out-of-state and online retailers to collect state sales taxes. It's a victory for independent businesses, but Nick and Stacy discuss how the decision is long overdue, and how significant its delay has been in Amazon's growth and dominance of e-commerce.  Listen to the Episode

If you enjoy these conversations, make sure that you don't miss an episode — and help us reach more people — by subscribing in iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts.

In a Win for Independent Businesses, U.S. Supreme Court Rules for Sales Tax Fairness
Olivia LaVecchia  |  June 21, 2018

Photo: U.S. Supreme Court.Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court delivered a long-overdue decision that gives states the authority to close what's effectively been a tax loophole for big online retailers at the expense of many independent businesses. Now, states will be allowed to pass laws that require online companies to collect sales taxes in the same way that brick-and-mortar businesses must.
"By giving some online retailers an arbitrary advantage over their competitors who collect state sales taxes, [the Court's previous standard] has limited States’ ability to seek long-term prosperity and has prevented market participants from competing on an even playing field," Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in the majority opinion. For more on the decision and background on its impact,  Continue Reading
  Stacy Mitchell  |  June 28, 2018

Photo: American Express card.In a week packed with momentous rulings from the U.S. Supreme Court, it might be easy to overlook the case of Ohio v. American Express. With its ruling in this case, though, the Court doubled down on an ideology that's resulted in ever-higher levels of corporate concentration, and that will make it harder for the government to bring antitrust cases against Amazon and other platform monopolies in the future.
This ruling makes even more clear the importance of the growing movement of citizens and elected officials to restore U.S. antitrust laws to their original strength and purpose, and the need to pass new policies to tackle the power of Big Tech head on.  Continue Reading

In Case You Missed It: Our 5-Plank Policy Guide
Photo: Independent bookstore.Policy matters. The current state of affairs — with a diminished number of independent businesses, rising income inequality, and whole regions of the country left behind — isn't inevitable. It's the result of policy decisions. By overhauling these policies, we can rebuild the economic power and capacity of our communities.
In our new policy guide, we outline five planks to do just that, along with specific policies to pass at the local, state, and federal levels. The guide also features examples of communities around the country that are already using these tools.  Continue Reading

News Stories We’re Following
  • In a vivid graph, this story shows how small businesses employed millions more Americans 25 years ago than big businesses did. "The balance in the modern American economy is off," this New York Times piece concludes. "But corporate consolidation is a problem that’s within our power to fix."
  • As Walmart prepares to close a store in an Illinois town, the town remembers how "dozens" of locally owned small businesses closed when the Walmart first arrived 35 years ago. Now, there's hope of a "downtown revival."
  • The economic impacts of shopping with locally owned businesses include building community, raising property values, and supporting a healthier environment, write two public officials.
  • As many business owners from the baby boomer generation begin to retire, a growing number of them are selling their businesses to their employees.
  • Amazon's increasing reliance on independent contractors to deliver its packages offers another perspective on the "gig" economy — and puts good package delivery jobs under pressure.
  • Using the data it gathers on its platform, Amazon is not only manufacturing more of the products it sells, but also using its power to steer shoppers to its own brands.
  • Meanwhile, the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in Ohio v. American Express is part of a "hard march backward to laissez-faire economic policies."
  • A growing anti-monopoly movement is led by thinkers like Lina Khan, finds a profile in The Atlantic, who argue that when companies like Amazon are allowed to become too powerful, they "will almost inevitably wield that power far and wide, distorting not just the market itself, but the whole of American life."

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