Legislation imposing a five-year moratorium on new state and local taxes that target wireless services was approved last Thursday by members of the House Judiciary Committee, who also endorsed amendments that would (1) provide an exemption for taxes approved by voters and (2) mandate a study of the bill’s impact on state and local governments. Introduced last March by Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), the Wireless Tax Fairness Act, said committee chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX), is intended to promote fairness in the tax regime. The measure is now slated for a vote on the House floor, although the exact date remains uncertain. Noting that fees and taxes comprise an average 16.3 percent of wireless subscriber bills and that “the taxation of wireless approaches or even exceeds the rates of sin taxes on goods like alcohol and tobacco,” Lofgren proclaimed that her bill “simply freezes existing discriminatory wireless taxes to help foster wireless networks as a platform for innovation and jobs growth.” Although state and local tax authorities have opposed the bill on grounds that it would restrict their ability to raise much-needed revenues, Lofgren countered that there would be no impact on existing revenues as the measure applies only to new taxes. Committee members nevertheless attached two amendments to the bill during Thursday’s mark-up that address state concerns. One such amendment provides an exemption to the law to permit state and local jurisdictions to impose new wireless taxes that are approved by affected voters. The other amendment would require a GAO study of the bill’s impact on state and local governments. The sponsor of that amendment, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), has also recommended a GAO report on the impact of wireless taxes on consumer choice over a five-year period. The bill would also exclude taxes and fees that are earmarked toward the federal Universal Service Fund and equivalent state programs governed by Section 254 of the 1934 Communications Act. Disagreeing that the bill is “about expanding broadband technology or providing tax parity for an overtaxed industry,” the National League of Cities criticized the bill for providing “special treatment and favoritism for wireless phone companies that continue to experience explosive growth and profits.”