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White House exploring ways to stop Medtronic-like tax avoidance

PLUS: Target comes out in support of gay marriage; the Vikings stadium gets a roof; and Phyllis Kahn gets a big endorsement.

Wikimedia Commons/Bobak Ha'Eri

This will make the House GOP’s “impeachment caucus” heads explode. The AP says President Obama is looking for a way to blow by Congress and kneecap corporate tax avoidance maneuvers like the one used by Medtronic, known as inversions. “Senate Democrats have pointed to a paper published last week by Stephen Shay, Harvard Law School professor who was a Treasury official earlier in Obama’s presidency. Writing in the trade publication Tax Notes, Shay argued that the Treasury could weaken the benefits that entice companies to pursue inversions. As an example, after a company reincorporates overseas, it typically shifts large amounts of debt from the foreign company to the U.S. subsidiary, which can then deduct that debt when it files taxes. Shay said [Treasury Secretary Jacob J.] Lew could use regulations to start treating that debt as equity, which can’t be deducted.”

It’s good to see something getting done. Don Davis of the Forum News Service reports, “The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has approved a storage facility that could ease a second straight winter propane shortage. U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., said the corps approved the 1 million-gallon facility at ‘record speed’ so it will be ready for this fall’s harvest. However, Klobuchar said while touring Farmfest exhibits that the facility will only make up a third of the propane transportation capacity lost when the owners of a pipeline decided to no longer move propane through it. She said shortages are expected again this year.”

Know someone desperate for a campaign issue? The AP tells us, “The state of Minnesota says it has sold $85.4 million in bonds to pay for a new Senate office building. Minnesota Management and Budget announced the bond sale Tuesday. State officials said earlier they would start on the four-story building near the Capitol within a few days of the sale.”

Tom Scheck at MPR adds, “April estimates said taxpayers will pay for $77 million of the project. Capitol complex parking fees will pay for the remaining $13 million. Department of Administration spokesman Curt Yoakum said the final numbers are being changed as a result of the bond sale. He said he expects the construction cost of the building to go down and the parking facility fees to increase. Yoakum said the numbers will be finalized after construction firms bid on the project. Yoakum says construction crews will start with perimeter fencing, asphalt, curb and tree removal and heavy equipment staging.”

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Was that really so difficult?  Jim Spencer at the Strib says, “Target Corp. has for the first time come out publicly in support of gay marriage, as a growing number of high-profile businesses take positions on the divisive issue. In revealing Tuesday that it had signed a court brief backing marriage equality in a ­pending court case, Target joins other blue-chip names such as Starbucks, Apple and Intel that have sided publicly with same-sex marriage advocates in court cases or ballot issues.”

Sort of a Sun City, without as much sun. MPR’s Elizabeth Baier reports, “A few blocks away from the Mayo Clinic’s flagship campus, a project is underway that signals big changes ahead for the city’s housing mix. Construction workers are putting finishing touches on the exterior of one of Rochester’s newest senior living communities. Slated to open this fall, the mixed development of assisted living apartments and a memory care unit is part of a boom in senior housing.”

Thank you, Fil. Cassie Hart of KSTP-TV reports, “A 9-year-old Inver Grove Heights girl opened up a lemonade stand Sunday to help the family of fallen Mendota Police Officer Scott Patrick. Fil Sans sold lemonade, freezies and rainbow loom bracelets at her stand on Blaine Avenue. She was able to meet her goal Tuesday of $2,231, in honor of Officer Patrick’s badge #2231.”

Some of the biggest individual parts of the new Vikings stadium are being hoisted in to place this week. Tim Nelson of MPR says, “A crane moved a 400,000-pound steel roof section into place at the new Vikings stadium today, as the new building starts to take shape in the Minneapolis skyline. The building will rise about 300 feet above the ground when complete. One of the world’s biggest mobile cranes is on the site, hoisting the stadium structure onto shoring towers. Michele Kelm-Helgen, chair of the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority, said the structures going up in coming days will weigh hundreds of tons and will span over the length of the new football field.” Just think, in no time at all, they’ll be spraying confetti from up there all over the Super Bowl champion Minnesota Vikings.

A bit more on CenturyLink’s fiber optic plans from Stribbers David Phelps and Evan Ramstad. “That speed, also known as 1 gigabit per second, is available immediately in selected residential areas and for some small businesses, the company said. For ‘proprietary reasons,’ CenturyLink declined to identify those neighborhoods and business districts. … The upgrade requires service providers to change the type of wire that goes into a home. Instead of relying on the copper wire that phone companies deployed for most of the last century, the 1-gigabit level of service has to be delivered via fiber-optic line. In much of the Twin Cities, that means CenturyLink will have to replace wiring on poles or buried under yards.”

Oooohhhh … interesting. The Strib has endorsed Phyllis Kahn over Mahamud Noor. “Longtime incumbent Kahn wins the Editorial Board endorsement. In more than 40 years in the House, she has contributed mightily to state policy and has earned a 22nd term. … More recently, Kahn played a critical role in passing the Women’s Economic Security Act and has provided good leadership as chair of the Legacy committee.” I’m guessing outdoor columnist Dennis Anderson didn’t get a vote on that one.