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Corporate tax case could cost state $700 million

Plus: Uber fights back against insurance bill; more on the Markingson case; lawmakers get a lesson in genital piercing; and more. 

Minnesota State Capitol
MinnPost file photo by Terry Gydesen

On this one, I’m pulling for the state revenue folks. In the PiPress, Doug Belden says, “Minnesota could wind up owing hundreds of millions of dollars in tax refunds if the state loses a pending tax court case, the state solicitor general told a panel of judges Thursday. The Minnesota Tax Court heard three hours of arguments in the case, which has to do with how multistate corporations calculate tax liability in Minnesota. ‘Whatever decision might be made here is going to be applied to other cases,’ Alan Gilbert told the three judges on the tax court panel. ‘If appellants prevail in this matter, the state will have to refund up to a total of $700 million to affected multistate taxpayers.’” Because, after all, all corporations are paying far too much in taxes.

They’re still playing tough with synthetic pot manufacturers. Tom Olsen for the Forum News Service reports, “Five Minnesota men appeared in federal court Thursday in St. Paul on charges of manufacturing and distributing synthetic marijuana through several smoke shops in Minnesota. … The charges allege that the defendants conspired to manufacture and distribute synthetic cannabinoids through several smoke shops under the ‘Smokes 4 Less’ brand. … The men imported the controlled substances from China and manufactured a liquid solution that was sprayed onto leafy material and sold through the smoke shops under the brand name ‘Kryptonite,’ the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.” Because if it can kill Superman, you know it’s good stuff.

Not that they’re charging less for lattes. MPR’s Mark Steil is saying, “Milk prices have dropped by more than one-third since last fall. China, a major American milk importer the past few years, is projected to slash imports this year by about $1 billion. And next month, the European Union will lift production caps on its farmers so they can produce as much milk as they want. The global shifts are adding up to tighter budgets for some Minnesota farmers, with some starting to lose money on their monthly dairy operations.”

Because you want to get away to a place that is last in everything … other than sun. Mary Perez of the Gulfport-Biloxi Sun Herald reports, “Sun Country Airlines announced Thursday it will provide nonstop seasonal service from its home market of Minneapolis-St.Paul to Gulfport-Biloxi from Aug. 27 through Nov. 22. The airline also announced it will fly from Minneapolis-St. Paul to Savannah-Hilton Head from Aug. 27 through Dec. 13. Tickets went on sale Thursday. Clay Williams, executive director of the Gulfport airport, said round-trip between Gulfport and Minnesota flights will cost $260.”

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Uber fights back. Says Tom Scheck for MPR, “The ride-sharing service Uber is fighting a bill in the Minnesota Legislature that would require the drivers to have additional insurance coverage. Uber General Manager Mike White said Thursday the legislation is unreasonable and could cost the state jobs. … Insurance Federation of Minnesota vice president Mark Kulda said the higher rate for Uber drivers is valid. ‘When you’re driving for Uber for money, it’s a lot higher risk. You’re driving in areas where you don’t know where you are, you’re having to look at your phone all of the time to pick up your rides,’ Kulda said. ‘Why should all of the other policy-holders subsidize an Uber driver ?’”

Common sense may have prevailed. MPR’s Tim Pugmire reports, “A Minnesota lawmaker tried unsuccessfully today to revive a bill that tells transgender students which sports teams they can join and which locker rooms they can use. Sen. David Brown, R-Becker, introduced a bill two weeks ago that would undo a recent Minnesota State High School League policy that allows transgender athletes play on the sports teams that best align with their gender identity.” Might be a Sixth District thing.

Here’s the Minnesota Daily on yesterday’s report from the Legislative Auditor on the long-running Dan Markingson case at the U of M. Says Christopher Aadland: “More than a decade of scrutiny over the University’s clinical research has followed since Markingson’s suicide. A separate external report released last month by the Association for the Accreditation of Human Research Protection Programs, Inc., found ‘significant problems’ with the University’s human subjects research program. … ‘We’re here 11 years later because we didn’t have a good investigation upfront,’ Sen. Eric Pratt, R-Prior Lake, said Thursday. ‘You can’t have an ethical program unless you have ethical people.’”

MPR’s Paul Huttner on our “flash drought.” “Nearly all of Minnesota is now in drought. Moderate drought coverage went from 5 to 88 percent in today’s updated U.S. Drought Monitor. … as I’ve written before there are some signs a dry bias may continue this spring. El Niño springs do favor 20 to 50 percent less rainfall on average in the Upper Midwest. Looking at the persistence of hemispheric jet stream patterns, my spidey weather senses tell me dryness may be the favored bias this spring.”

As “inside jobs” go, this one’s a little flagrant. Paul Walsh of the Strib writes, “A Nordstrom shopper at the Mall of America, with the help of a clerk, was allowed to bust through her credit card limit and make off with more than $143,000 in high-end goods that she didn’t have to pay for, authorities said Thursday. … The items purchased above the woman’s $1,000 credit card limit included a $26,000 piece of jewelry and purses ranging from $1,000 to $4,000. Police searches at the pair’s respective homes turned up ‘just a portion of the merchandise,’ said Deputy Chief Mike Hartley.”

I wouldn’t have known either. And I wouldn’t have asked. Stribber Abby Simons writes, “Members of the House Health and Human Services Reform Committee received quite an education in body modification Wednesday night while discussing a measure to clarify licensing requirements for Minnesota’s professional piercers. … The measure, which strengthens requirements for licensing, and clarifies identification requirements for minors to receive a piercing, also prohibits certain piercings—specifically, horizontal tongue piercing, gum piercing, eyelid piercing and Princess Albertina piercing, because of the health risks they pose. The House panel, admittedly not versed in piercing, was naturally curious. Rep. Jennifer Schultz, DFL-Duluth, asked what, exactly, a Princess Albertina was. ‘Madam Chair and members of the committee, it’s a female genital piercing,’ Tepley said. ‘Would you like more information’? The committee declined.”