On Air Now

Listen Now

Weather

cloudy-day
47°
Cloudy
H -° L 42°
  • cloudy-day
    47°
    Current Conditions
    Cloudy. H -° L 42°
  • cloudy-day
    Today
    Cloudy. H -° L 42°
  • rain-day
    43°
    Tomorrow
    Rain. H 43° L 30°
Listen
Pause
Error

News on-demand

00:00 | 00:00

Listen
Pause
Error

Traffic on-demand

00:00 | 00:00

Listen
Pause
Error

Weather on-demand

00:00 | 00:00

State & Regional Govt & Politics
Watch what’s next: Georgia might tax Netflix and downloads
Close

Watch what’s next: Georgia might tax Netflix and downloads

Watch what’s next: Georgia might tax Netflix and downloads
Photo Credit: Daniel Acker
The Netflix app is displayed for a photograph on an Apple iPad. Georgia legislators are considering whether to impose a 4 percent tax on streaming video, downloaded media and other communication services. Bloomberg photo by Daniel Acker

Watch what’s next: Georgia might tax Netflix and downloads

Possibly coming soon to a screen near you: a tax on Netflix and just about everything else you download or stream.

Georgia lawmakers, coaxed by dozens of lobbyists swarming the state Capitol, are pushing for a tax on digital video, books, music and video games.

That means you’d pay more for Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, Kindle e-books, iTunes music, Spotify and internet phone services.

Legislators and internet providers see it as a giant pool of untapped cash that could be used to subsidize construction of internet lines in economically depressed rural parts of the state.

Those who are already connected would pay the price: They’d bear the cost of the 4 percent tax, but its benefits would go toward rural residents who lack high-speed access to online products.

Georgia is the latest state to consider a far-reaching tax on internet services, a virtual gold mine for governments trying to raise money to prop up rural areas that have steadily lost businesses and residents to Atlanta and other cities. Only a handful of other states have imposed this kind of tax so far, but similar proposals have been introduced in legislatures across the country.

Both Gov. Brian Kemp and Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan have expressed reservations about the idea.

The proposal pits current customers against communication companies such as AT&T, who stand to profit because the digital tax would replace existing, higher taxes on cable TV, phones and broadband equipment.

A rural-urban divide

About 66 percent of Georgians oppose the idea of taxing internet, TV and phone services to raise money for rural internet, according to a statewide poll conducted last month for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

“We in the city have been taxed enough,” said Beverly Barnes, an Atlanta retiree who was questioned for the poll. “I look at my cable and cellphone bill, and I see we have enough fees. Most people move to the country because it’s cheaper out there. Let them pay for that.”

But state Rep. Jay Powell, the chairman of the powerful House Rules Committee, said customers have avoided paying sales taxes on digital products, creating inequities between old and new technologies. For example, a book purchased at a store is subject to sales taxes, but a downloaded e-book is tax-free.

He said those who have high-speed access should pay a tax to support Georgians who lack high-speed internet, which has become a necessity for business, education and health care.

“We are all part of the same state, and we help each other,” said Powell, a Republican from Camilla. “If Atlanta benefits, then the rest of Georgia benefits. If the rural section of Georgia benefits, then Atlanta benefits. We’re all in it together.”

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
The committee room is full as state Rep. Jay Powell presents a bill for a digital tax to the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Public Finance and Policy at the Georgia Capitol in February 2018. Georgia lawmakers are considering a tax on everything from Netflix to e-books, from internet phones to satellite TV service. Legislators say money raised for the tax would fund construction of rural internet lines. PHOTO / JASON GETZ
Close

Watch what’s next: Georgia might tax Netflix and downloads

Photo Credit: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
The committee room is full as state Rep. Jay Powell presents a bill for a digital tax to the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Public Finance and Policy at the Georgia Capitol in February 2018. Georgia lawmakers are considering a tax on everything from Netflix to e-books, from internet phones to satellite TV service. Legislators say money raised for the tax would fund construction of rural internet lines. PHOTO / JASON GETZ

Discomfort over new taxes

Nearly 60 lobbyists for cable, TV and cellphone companies are making an argument that it’s only fair that every service be taxed equally. Currently, various taxes and fees cover cable TV and phones but not satellite TV and internet video.

The resistance comes from legislators who oppose new taxes, consumers who would pay the tax and Dish TV, which doesn’t stand to benefit from government funding of rural internet since it already provides satellite-based online access to those areas. Before a similar digital tax proposal failed last year, Dish TV ran TV ads urging viewers to “Stop the Georgia TV tax!”

Legislation for the tax proposal hasn’t been introduced yet in Georgia, but a bill is coming from a group of influential rural House lawmakers who have made internet access a priority. They say the state government needs to spread around some of metro Atlanta’s economic prosperity. Other lawmakers are uncomfortable with the idea of a tax increase.

For a Netflix customer with a $12.99 monthly plan, a 4 percent tax would cost 52 cents per month, or $6.24 per year.

Rural Georgians such as Twalla Whitlock, who subscribes to satellite internet service, said they need faster, more affordable internet options.

“It’s expensive,” said Whitlock, a Brooks County resident who works in social services and responded to the AJC poll. “If they had more towers out here, it would be cheaper. In a lot of areas, they have limited service.”

The tax, combined with the repeal of existing taxes and fees, would generate $48 million in 2021 and reach $310 million by 2024, according to state estimates. Revenue would be split between state and local governments. The state portion would go into the general treasury, meaning there’s no guarantee it would go to help increase internet access in rural Georgia. The state can’t dedicate funding without changing the state Constitution.

Without state funding, internet companies say it doesn’t make financial sense for them to expand into less populated areas, where access is spread among fewer customers. State legislators want to subsidize internet companies’ costs to expand into regions that lack broadband service.

Less access, fewer opportunities

About 638,000 households — 16 percent of the state — lack access to internet with speeds of at least 25 megabits per second, according to a University of Georgia study.

Internet speeds in the 25 Mbps range are important to work from home, study online, download files and stream high-definition video, according to the Federal Communications Commission.

State Sen. Steve Gooch said he wants to find money for rural internet expansion, but he’s not convinced a digital services tax is the way to do it. He said funding could come from an existing fund for landline telephone expansion, and he opposes taxing satellite dishes because they don’t use public rights of way.

“We should exhaust all options and review our existing tax framework for internet, telephone, broadband and satellite services before making any decisions,” said Gooch, a Republican from Dahlonega.

State Rep. Viola Davis, a DeKalb County taxpayer advocate before she was elected last year, said she’s skeptical of the proposal.

“I get real uncomfortable when they want to tax an area and then redistribute that money to another area,” said Davis, a Democrat from Stone Mountain. “If you do the tax, the tax will be on primarily the urban homeowners and users of internet.”

Similar technologies should be taxed evenly, but it’s often unpopular when elected officials try to put a tax on services such as Netflix that have so far escaped the government’s reach, said John Buhl, a spokesman for the Tax Foundation, a Washington-based think tank. States including Hawaii, Pennsylvania and Washington tax streaming services.

“People think of Netflix, and they like Netflix, and they say, ‘Why are you trying to tax my Netflix?’ ” Buhl said. “Things that were goods in the past are now services in the digital era, and states need to deal with that. Otherwise, their tax base will get smaller quickly.”

Georgia already imposed sales taxes on products sold online, which went into effect Jan. 1. But electronic goods remain untaxed.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
State Rep. Jay Powell presents a bill for a digital tax to the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Public Finance and Policy at the Georgia Capitol in February 2018. Georgia lawmakers are considering a tax on everything from Netflix to e-books, from internet phones to satellite TV service. Legislators say money raised for the tax would fund construction of rural internet lines. PHOTO / JASON GETZ
Close

Watch what’s next: Georgia might tax Netflix and downloads

Photo Credit: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
State Rep. Jay Powell presents a bill for a digital tax to the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Public Finance and Policy at the Georgia Capitol in February 2018. Georgia lawmakers are considering a tax on everything from Netflix to e-books, from internet phones to satellite TV service. Legislators say money raised for the tax would fund construction of rural internet lines. PHOTO / JASON GETZ

Cable vs. satellite

Cable companies support broadening the tax base among all TV and internet customers — not just those that have cable and are already paying government franchise fees — Georgia Cable Association lobbyist Stephen Loftin said.

“Clearly, when you’ve got some services that pay a tax and others don’t, there’s an equity situation that needs to be addressed, particularly when the services are indistinguishable to the consumer,” Loftin said. “The only difference is the technology used to deliver it.”

The Georgia Cable Association’s members include Charter Communications, Comcast and Cox Communications, the cable and broadband internet subsidiary of Cox Enterprises, which also owns the AJC. Cox provides cable, internet and phone services in Middle Georgia, primarily in the Macon and Warner Robins area.

AT&T is the largest force of the telecommunications industry at the Georgia Capitol, with the biggest service area and the most lobbyists — 23 — according to state ethics commission records.

It wants any tax on internet services to also eliminate sales taxes on broadband equipment, saving money for telecom companies. A House council of rural legislators included the elimination of broadband equipment taxes in its recommendations.

“The state’s first step to spurring broadband deployment should be eliminating government-imposed economic and procedural hurdles that stifle private capital investment,” AT&T spokeswoman Ann Elsas said. “Once that has occurred, the state can assess the need for any additional steps like supplementing federal efforts to help enhance broadband deployment in hard-to-reach, high-cost areas.”

Netflix didn’t respond to requests for comment. Comcast referred questions to the Georgia Cable Association.

Dish, the satellite TV and internet provider, characterized the tax as a handout for “big cable.” Dish spokeswoman Karen Modlin said the company is the only statewide provider of video and broadband, without having to use local infrastructure.

“We hope that the Legislature will recognize that innovation can be achieved without saddling satellite customers with new and unwarranted taxes,” Modlin said.

Charlie Hayslett, the former owner of an Atlanta-based public relations firm who is writing a book about the divide between metro and rural parts of Georgia, said the tax plan for rural broadband could be an expensive waste of money.

While internet service is important for rural Georgia, he questions whether a government subsidy would solve the area’s connectivity problems.

“I’m all for helping rural Georgia,” Hayslett said, “but I’m also tired of being asked to sit in gridlocked traffic while the General Assembly uses my tax money to buy a pig in a poke for South Georgia.”

WHY IT MATTERS

More than 600,000 rural Georgia households lack access to high-speed internet, limiting opportunities for business growth, education and health care. State legislators are considering a tax on streaming video, music downloads and e-books to raise money to subsidize internet construction in unconnected parts of the state.

HOW IT WOULD WORK

A proposed 4 percent tax on all digital, phone and TV services would replace a variety of existing sales taxes and franchise fees currently charged on cable TV revenues and phone subscriptions. The communication services tax would cover streaming video and other internet downloads that currently aren’t taxable.

New taxes:

  • Streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Hulu
  • E-books or audio books downloaded from Amazon and Audible
  • Music purchased from Spotify and iTunes
  • Video games
  • Digital photos, newspapers and magazines

Eliminated taxes:

  • Franchise fees of 5 percent on cable TV revenue
  • Franchise fees of 3 percent on landline phones
  • Sales taxes of at least 7 percent on landline phones, cellphones and broadband equipment

Source: Georgia House of Representatives Rural Development Council

Stay on top of what’s happening in Georgia government and politics at ajc.com/news/georgia-government/.

Read More

News

  • A mother in Beaver County, Pennsylvania, is heartbroken, claiming her son was kicked out of Walmart because of his disability. Buddy, 24, is 6-foot-2 and nonverbal with special needs, but he communicates with noises that can sometimes get loud. His mother told WPXI that while he and his service worker were inside the Walmart in Baden, they were approached by a worker who asked them to leave. Tammy Sheets said an employee who claimed to be a manager asked them to leave because of the noises her son was making. “She (the service worker) said, ‘Are you serious?’ Because she was shocked. And he said, ‘If he is going to continue to make those noises then yes,’” Sheets said. Sheets doesn’t know if her son understood what happened, but she said he cried afterward. She called Walmart’s corporate office and filed a complaint. She also called the American Civil Liberties Union. WPXI reached out to Walmart. A spokesperson said they are aware of the situation and that this was a misunderstanding. Walmart officials claim the employee did not ask them to leave the store. “I don’t know if he was sad or embarrassed or both, but that hurt me as a mother. … I’m here, I’m supposed to defend him,” said Sheets. Walmart updated its statement Wednesday, and the full comment is below: “Our associates and customers reflect the diverse communities we serve and our doors are open to everyone. This was an unfortunate misunderstanding, and at no point did we ask or tell these individuals to leave or exit the store. Our management team has experience serving customers and family members with autism and working to ensure they have a positive experience in the store.”
  • Two Calhoun State Prison officers in Morgan, Georgia, were arrested for allegedly smuggling drugs and other items inside a popular microwavable sandwich. The two female officers were arrested Monday after a metal detector alerted investigators to about 112 grams of meth and tobacco inside a Pepperoni Pizza Hot Pocket, according to WALB. Officer Corlethia Lattimore was charged with drug trafficking and Imani Ferguson was charged with conspiracy and giving illegal substances to inmates. Both were charged with violation of oath of office. Calhoun County Sheriff Josh Hilton told WALB that there have been almost a dozen arrests in the last year of people trying to smuggle contraband into the prison.
  • Former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg took fire from all sides Wednesday in a contentious Democratic presidential debate that saw him questioned on race, money and calling women “fat broads.” In the course of the two-hour event, Bloomberg, in his first debate appearance, was forced to defend his policy of stop and frisk and was asked if he would, there onstage, release from non-disclosure agreements women in his company who have complained about a hostile workplace. Bloomberg was hesitant in some answers and seemed nervous when answering other pointed questions, many thrown at him by Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren. Warren displayed a take-no-prisoners attitude for much of the debate, going after not only Bloomberg but everyone else on the stage over issues such as health care, climate change and taxing the wealthy. A recurring argument between Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Amy Klobuchar turned heated at one point with Klobuchar asking Buttigieg if he was saying she is dumb. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, also got into several sharp exchanges with Bloomberg, saying he doesn’t believe a billionaire should be allowed to “buy an election.” Former Vice President Joe Biden, who likewise went after Bloomberg and his wealth, also took a swipe at Sanders’ Medicare-for-all plan. “When you asked Bernie how much it cost last time he said...' We’ll find out,’” Biden quipped. “It costs over $35 trillion, let’s get real.” Here’s how the debate went: Live updates: Closing statements 11 p.m. ET Feb. 19, 2020: The debate ends as the candidates are asked to give closing statements. Klobuchar says it’s about heart and Trump doesn’t have one. She then asks people to go to her website. Bloomberg says people should go to his website, but he’s not asking for money. He says Trump isn’t doing the job – he’s not a manager, he can’t build teams. Buttigieg says time is running out but he is the candidate who can build the largest coalition to defeat Trump. “I grew up fighting,” Warren said. She talks about the hard times she had as a youngster and wonders why the US is still in hard times. Biden begins to talk and protesters begin to yell. They are escorted from the room. He resumes his statement saying he is running to help people. “I know what it’s like to get knocked down.” Sanders says he is the candidate for universal health care and taxing millionaires and billionaires. Who wins at the convention? 10:45 p.m. ET Feb. 19, 2020: Todd asks each candidate if the person with the most candidates should win the nomination, not the person with 1,991 – a majority of the total number of Democratic delegates to the national convention. Everyone but Sanders says no, the process should play out as the rules dictate. Sanders says the process is skewed with super delegates and that must be addressed. Perfection 10:43 p.m. ET Feb. 19, 2020: Klobuchar: tells Buttigieg she wishes 'everyone was as perfect as you” after he attacks her on her record. “You’ve memorized a bunch of talking points, and a bunch of things,” she says.Buttigieg begins to speak in Spanish. Helping with Trump’s re-election, according to Bloomberg 10:40 p.m. ET Feb. 19, 2020: Bloomberg takes a swipe at Sanders’s explanation of Democratic socialism. “I can’t think of a way that would make it easier for Donald Trump to get re-elected than listening to this conversation,” Bloomberg said. “This is ridiculous. We’re not going to throw out capitalism. We tried that. Other countries tried that. It was called communism and it just didn’t work.” Burnin’ down the party Biden on guns Who is the president of Mexico? 9:55 p.m. ET Feb. 19, 2020: Klobuchar is asked about her inability to name the president of Mexico during an interview a few days ago. She says his name, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, just slipped her mind. Buttigieg says that shouldn’t happen because part of her job as a senator is overseeing border issues, and he suggests she is not as prepared as she says she is. Warren steps in and defends Klobuchar, saying forgetting a name happens sometimes. Sexist remarks 9:50 p.m. ET Feb. 19, 2020: Warren pounces on Bloomberg for his answer on allegations that he made sexist remarks to women in his company, Bloomberg LP.Bloomberg says he will not talk about it, and that when someone makes sexist remarks at his company, “we investigate it. And if it’s inappropriate, they’re gone that day.”Warren cuts in and asks why he won’t release women from confidentiality agreements they signed relating to sexist comments and a hostile workplace.“I’m sorry the question is are the women bound by being muzzled by you and you could release them from that immediately? Understand, this is not just a question of the mayor’s character. This is also a question about electability.”He says he will not release the women from the agreements.The audience boos.“I hope you heard what his defense was. I’ve been nice to some women,” Warren said. ‘I can’t go to Turbo Tax’ 9:40 p.m. ET Feb. 19, 2020: Bloomberg explains why he has not yet released his tax returns. It’s a massive job to do that, Bloomberg says, and the results will be in the thousands of pages, he said. “I can’t go to Turbo Tax,” he says. Stop and frisk 9:37 p.m. ET Feb. 19, 2020: Bloomberg explains his stop and frisk policy: “I thought my first responsibility was to give people the right to live,” he said, but “it got out of control.” “I’ve sat, I’ve apologized, I’ve asked for forgiveness,” Bloomberg said. “We stopped too many people.” Warren responded, “This really is about leadership and accountability,” she said. “It targeted communities of color; it targeted black and brown men from the beginning. You need a new apology.” Health care is the issue 9:20 p.m. ET Feb. 19, 2020: Warren attacks the health care plans of everyone on the stage. She says Klobuchar’s could be written on a Post-It note. Buttigieg’s plan is a campaign slogan, she says. Klobuchar responds: “Post-it notes were invented in my state.” Fireworks from the start 9:10 a.m. ET Feb. 19, 2020: Sanders gets the first question. It is about Bloomberg and why he, Sanders, would be a better choice for president. Sanders says Bloomberg has baggage that will keep him from bringing in people for Democrats. Bloomberg says he doesn’t think there is “a chance of the senator (Sanders) beating Trump,” pointing to Sanders’ plan for Medicare for all. Warren goes after Bloomberg saying there’s one candidate who has referred to women as “fat broad” and “horse-faced lesbians.” “No, I’m not talking about Donald Trump, I’m talking about Mayor Bloomberg.” “We are not going to win,” Warren said, “If we substitute one arrogant billionaire for another.” Klobuchar said she was happy to see Bloomberg on the stage until she saw a memo from Bloomberg’s campaign that suggested she get out of the race. Biden says, according to an NBC poll, he is the one who can beat Trump. “Look at your own poll,” he tells the moderators. Buttigieg says the nominee could end up being one of the “two most polarizing figures on this stage.” Then he suggests, “Let’s put someone forward who is actually a Democrat.” xxxx The debate is about to start 8:53 p.m. ET Feb. 19, 2020: The candidates are taking the stage now. Who’s Number One? 8:40 p.m. ET Feb. 19, 2020: Sanders is now the front-runner in the Democratic race for the presidential nomination, replacing Biden. He is holding around 30% support in national polls. However, the leader in primary results, which is what matters in gaining the nomination, is former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg. He’s up by one delegate over Sanders. Steyer isn’t there, but his money is 8:31 p.m. ET Feb. 19, 2020: Tom Steyer is not on the debate stage tonight. The billionaire entrepreneur has spent upwards of $14 million on ad buys in Nevada and is on the Nevada ballot, but he did not get enough support in polls to make the stage. When will we know Nevada’s results? 8:25 p.m. ET Feb. 19, 2020: The Associated Press is reporting that Democrats will not commit to releasing Saturday’s Nevada caucuses results on Saturday. According to The AP, Democratic National Committee chairman Tom Perez said several factors, including early voting and potentially high turnout, could affect the tabulation and timing of results. In addition, Nevada, like Iowa, will be reporting three sets of data from the multistage caucus process. The rules 8:16 p.m. ET Feb. 19, 2020: The rules for the night will allow debaters one minute and 15 seconds for answering questions they are given by moderators, and 45 seconds for follow-up responses at the moderators’ discretion. In past debates, those rules have often gone straight out the window with people jumping in on their own and, at times, hijacking the stage Health issues 8:03 p.m. ET Feb. 19, 2020: Bloomberg’s and Sanders’ campaigns have been trading barbs today. Sanders’ press secretary claimed this morning on CNN that Bloomberg has had “several heart attacks.” Bloomberg’s campaign called her out, saying Bloomberg has never had a heart attack. Sanders, himself, has been questioned about his health following the heart attack he suffered in the fall. 7:43 p.m. ET Feb. 19, 2020: Robert Reich, who was in Presidents Gerald Ford’s, Jimmy Carter’s and Bill Clinton’s administrations, offers a list of questions Michael Bloomberg may have to answer tonight. Live updates are beginning 7:30 p.m. ET Feb. 19, 2020: Welcome to live updates from the Democratic presidential debate. Six candidates are in Las Vegas getting ready for the debate which comes three days before Saturday’s Nevada caucuses.
  • A human brain was seized by U.S. Customs and Border Protection at the U.S - Canadian border last week in a shipment that was only identified as an “Antique Teaching Specimen.” An inspection on a mail truck entering the United States from Canada in Port Huron revealed a package that contained a human brain inside of a clear glass mason jar, according to WKBW. The package originated in Toronto and was on its way to Kenosha, Wisconsin, before it was intercepted by agents. The item did not have any paperwork or legal documents and was denied entry into the U.S. “Individuals looking to import shipments such as this, need to remember that the Center for Disease Control and Prevention has a strict Import Permit Program that must be adhered to. This is just another great example of just one of the many things CBP officers do to protect our nation on a daily basis,” Area Port Director Michael Fox told WKBW. According to WDJT-TV, authorities are investigating how to dispose of the brain.
  • A Louisiana man accused of shoplifting items from a Walmart dragged a sheriff’s deputy across the store’s parking lot in a car as he tried to flee, authorities said. Joseph Ray Hollingsworth, 44, of Independence, was booked on several charges, including theft, resisting an officer, battery of a police officer, aggravated flight from an officer by vehicle and possession of a stolen firearm, according to a news release by the St. John the Baptist Sheriff’s Office. Saturday, officers working security at the Walmart were alerted about a man, later identified as Hollingworth, allegedly stealing items from the store, WVUE reported. Deputies detained Hollingworth and put him in handcuffs, but he was able to get free and fled, NOLA.com reported. Hollingsworth got into a vehicle and a deputy dived on top of him, the website reported. According to the Sheriff’s Office news release, Hollingsworth was able to start the vehicle and drove away, dragging the deputy alongside him. Hollingsworth eventually crashed into a basket corral, and the deputy was able to put the vehicle in park, WVUE reported. According to the Sheriff’s Office, a search of the car revealed a stolen handgun and plastic bags containing methamphetamine residue, NOLA.com reported. In the news release, deputies said Hollingsworth had active warrants issued by the Walker Police Department and had a suspended driver’s license, according to WVUE. Hollingsworth and the deputy were treated for minor injuries, the television station reported. Hollingsworth is being held in lieu of $67,500 bail, according to arrest records.
  • Former Cleveland Browns offensive tackle Greg Robinson was arrested Tuesday and was being held in a Texas jail on drug distribution charges, authorities said Wednesday. Robinson, 27, who started 14 games for the Browns in 2019, was booked by the Drug Enforcement Administration on Tuesday, according to El Paso County jail records. Robinson was arrested at the Sierra Blanca border checkpoint near the U.S.-Mexico border, AL.com reported. Robinson faces a charge of possessing marijuana with intent to sell, ESPN reported. Robinson has played six seasons in the NFL. He was the No. 2 overall pick in the 2014 NFL draft and was the first-round pick of the St. Louis Rams. He played collegiately at Auburn University. Robinson played the 2019 second season in Cleveland on a one-year contract, and the Browns already told his agent the lineman would not be re-signed by the Browns in 2020, according to cleveland.com. He will become a free agent March 18, the website reported.