Colo. Dems push biz tax credit for rehired workers

Colorado Democratic lawmakers want to give a tax break to businesses that rehire workers they laid off last year, a move that analysts estimate could speed up the return of some 10,000 people to work.

However, no business groups turned out to testify for the proposal during its first hearing at the Capitol on Tuesday. And Republican lawmakers, normally friendly to tax cuts to create jobs, are so far dismissing it as a “fig leaf” to cover the economic damage done by a package of tax hikes passed to balance the budget.

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Sen. Rollie Heath, D-Boulder, and Sen. Chris Romer, D-Denver, dismiss that idea and say they’ve been working on the bill since last summer.

The proposed tax credit is fairly limited and couldn’t be claimed until 2012. To be eligible, businesses would have to rehire workers employed for at least a year before they were laid off in 2009. They would have to keep them on the job for at least a full year after that. [Read the full article]

Virginia’s attorney general is challenging the federal government’s conclusion that greenhouse gases are dangerous to people.

Attorney General Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II said Tuesday he has asked the Environmental Protection to delay final consideration of that finding so “newly available information” can be reviewed.

Cuccinelli did not elaborate on that new information and did not immediately respond to an interview request from The Associated Press. He scheduled a news conference for Wednesday.

Cuccinelli also said he would seek a legal challenge of the EPA’s finding, which would regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act.

Virginia’s actions are aimed at a December EPA “endangerment” finding about carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, setting the stage for future rules restricting such emissions.

A spokeswoman for Gov. [Read the full article]

The Wyoming House of Representatives gave preliminary approval Tuesday to a bill that would impose the nation’s first state excise tax on wind energy generation.

Forty members of the 60-member chamber voted for House Bill 101 after a debate that stretched for more than an hour. The House must approve the bill twice more before it would move to the Senate.

Supporters said Wyoming should levy a wind generation tax to provide revenue for state and county governments and to provide regulatory certainty for the burgeoning wind industry. Opponents argued that the state should spend more time considering its overall tax policy for wind and that the generation tax could drive developers away.

The bill would impose a $1-per-megawatt-hour tax on wind energy generation, down from the $3 rate proposed by Gov. Dave Freudenthal. The House maintained a revenue split of 60-40 between the state and counties. [Read the full article]

Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter proposed eliminating $1.7 million in taxpayer funding for Idaho Public Television because its manager offered inadequate budget-cutting measures last year, the Republican chief executive’s finance chief said Tuesday.

On Jan. 11, Otter announced plans to dump public TV funding by 2014, starting with a $550,000 cut in July.

Wayne Hammon, the Division of Financial Management director, now says Idaho Public Television general manager Peter Morrill’s agency was among those targeted with deep budget cuts because it failed to sufficiently respond to Otter’s request in September for how it would accomplish impending statewide holdbacks.

“I would not say they were being punished,” Hammon said. “The budget was meant as a wake-up call for them to get on board.”

Until now, Otter’s aides have said cutting Idaho Public Television’s funding was largely based on his view that taxpayer-funded public TV was outside the scope of government. [Read the full article]

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