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Wyoming generally favors low taxes and coal-fired electricity but one of its largest utilities will need to pay sales tax on pollution-control chemicals at four power plants in the state, the Wyoming Supreme Court ruled Thursday.

The justices sided with the state Board of Equalization — the panel that oversees state tax disputes — and against Portland, Oregon-based PacifiCorp.

The case with ties to a previous high court ruling on chemicals used in newspaper printing will likely apply to other power plants in Wyoming but not boost electricity rates for PacifiCorp customers.

"There is no impact to generation costs. The company has been paying the sales tax on these items, so the ruling means simply no change," said PacifiCorp spokesman David Eskelsen.

Board of Equalization officials didn't return messages Thursday seeking comment.

PacifiCorp uses chemicals to remove sulfur dioxide from flue gas at four coal-fired power plants in Wyoming. Wyoming exempts sales tax on ingredients used in manufacturing products.

PacifiCorp claimed the utility shouldn't have to pay sales tax on the chemicals or others used to purify water in the plants' boiler system because it manufactures electricity.

Attorneys for PacifiCorp pointed to a 1980 Wyoming Supreme Court ruling that chemicals used in newspaper printing besides ink were tax-exempt.

The justices on Thursday agreed the utility manufactures electricity — and disagreed with the Board of Equalization on that point. But they pointed out that the Legislature has changed the sales-tax law since 1980.

Under current law, the chemicals used in power plants can't be construed as tax-exempt ingredients used to make electricity, the justices ruled.


The mayor of a southern Indiana city is defending a rental inspection ordinance that’s resulted in thousands of dollars in fines against property owners and is the subject of a lawsuit.

Charlestown Mayor Bob Hall testified during Friday’s daylong hearing in Scott County Circuit Court that the ordinance is needed to ensure safe housing in his Ohio River community.

The News and Tribune reported the Institute for Justice sued the city of Charlestown on behalf of residents in the Pleasant Ridge neighborhood.

The nonprofit law firm’s attorneys argued during Friday’s hearing that the city broke Indiana law when it fined property owners without first giving them “reasonable time” to make repairs to return to compliance.

The group wants to block Charlestown officials from enforcing the ordinance.


Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter has appointed Twin Falls judge Richard Bevan to the state's highest court.

Otter announced Tuesday that Bevan — currently the 5th Judicial District's administrative judge — will replace retiring Idaho Supreme Court Justice Daniel Eismann. Bevan was among four other finalists vying for the open seat. Eismann will retire at the end of the month.

Bevan has been a judge since 2003, where he helped establish the 5th District's mental health court and presided over the Veterans Treatment Court. Previously, he was a private practice attorney and served a term as Twin Falls County prosecuting attorney.

Otter praised Bevan's judicial demeanor and understanding of the legal system, adding that Bevan has shown to have open mind on tough, socially significant issues.



A federal court nullified two of Texas’ 36 congressional districts Tuesday, unanimously ruling that they were drawn with the intent to weaken minority voting power in violation of the federal Voting Rights Act and the U.S. Constitution.

Hispanic voters in one county in the state's 27th Congressional District, which includes Corpus Christi, “were intentionally deprived of their opportunity to elect a candidate of their choice,” the three-judge panel of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas wrote in a 107-page ruling.

The court also called the 35th Congressional District, which includes parts of San Antonio and Austin, an “impermissible racial gerrymander.”

However, the court sided with the state with regard to other districts, ruling there was no evidence of “intentional discrimination/dilution” in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, Houston or the 23rd Congressional District.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton called the ruling “puzzling” because “the legislature adopted the congressional map the same court itself adopted in 2012, and the Obama-era Department of Justice did not bring any claims against the map.”

“We appreciate that the panel ruled in favor of Texas on many issues in the case,” Paxton said in a statement Tuesday. “We look forward to asking the Supreme Court to decide whether Texas had discriminatory intent when relying on the district court.”

The suit was brought in 2011 by several Texas voters, Democratic and minority lawmakers along with several advocacy groups, including the NAACP, the Mexican American Legislative Caucus and the League of United Latin American Citizens.


White House sources think Justice Anthony Kennedy, the Supreme Court's ideological fulcrum, may announce his retirement today, as the justices gather on the bench for the last time this term.

If that happens, Day 158 instantly becomes President Trump's biggest moment.

Trump's first Court appointment, of Justice Neil Gorsuch, was a one-for-one ideological swap for the late Justice Antonin Scalia. Replacing Kennedy would be even more historic and consequential: a momentous chance to edge the Court right, since Kennedy is the center of the Court — the one most willing to listen to both sides.

On a controversial case, both sides pitch to him. It's been called "Kennedy's Court." No one's predicting: Court watchers say no one knows, and Kennedy has said nothing publicly. He could well wait one more year: The Court buzz is that it'll be this year or next.

Be smart: Few domestic developments could more instantly and decisively change the national conversation — blotting out almost everything else, and vastly reducing the sting for conservatives is healthcare tanks.

A Washington wise man emails: "With two court appointments and maybe one more, Trump's presidency will be consequential even if he has few legislative achievements. This week may well demonstrate both."


Donald Trump's administration is pledging a Supreme Court showdown over his travel ban. That's after a federal appeals court said Thursday in ruling against it that the ban "drips with religious intolerance, animus and discrimination."

Citing the president's duty to protect the country from terrorism, Attorney General Jeff Sessions says that the Justice Department will ask the high court to review the case. He's offered no timetable.

The justices almost always have the final say when a lower court strikes down a federal law or presidential action.

The presidential executive order issued by Trump seeks to temporarily cut off visas for people from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.




Puerto Rico's governor says he'll ask a court to restructure the debts of the U.S. territory's public pension system, which is projected to run out of money this year.

Gov. Ricardo Rossello says the government has been unable to reach a deal with creditors to whom it owes some $3 billion.

Rossello said late Sunday that retired workers will still receive their pensions. He says the government will dip into its general fund once the pension system itself runs out of money. The pension system is underfunded by some $50 billion.

The previous administration already had trimmed benefits and a federal control board overseeing the island's finances is seeking more cuts. It says the system will switch to pay-as-you-go funding.



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