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Initiative seeks to aid veterans in finding jobs

January 16th, 2013 No comments

Gov. Phil Bryant proclaimed on Wednesday that 2013 was the year Mississippi employers should do everything they can to hire veterans.

As part of the announcement at the Capitol, Bryant and officials from the Mississippi Department of Employment Security said they would back legislation that seeks to make it easier for veterans and their spouses to get jobs.

The bill, which will be filed by Rep. Wanda Jennings, R-Southaven, would require state agencies to grant temporary occupational licenses to qualified veterans and their spouses. For example, if someone is transferred to Naval Air Station Meridian, and their spouse is a nurse licensed in another state, the bill would expedite the process of getting a license to practice nursing in Mississippi.

It would also expedite the licensing process for veterans whose civilian career will mirror their jobs in the military.

The initiative will include three job fairs, the first of which is in March at the Mississippi Agriculture and Forestry Museum in Jackson.

MDES executive director Mark Henry said Mississippi will have in the next five years 28,000 veterans who have served in Iraq and/or Afghanistan since Sept. 11, 2001. The unemployment rate for veterans in the state, Henry said, is 10.8 percent, higher than the 7.8 percent overall rate.

On Wednesday, representatives from Ingalls Shipbuilding, Entergy Mississippi and Brown Bottling signed a pledge to hire Mississippi veterans. A similar movement is going on nationally, led by Walmart’s promise this week to hire 100,000 veterans in the next five years.

The job fairs associated with the Mississippi initiative are March 8 at the Ag Museum, April 9 at the Biloxi Civic Center and June 27 at Itawamba Community College’s Belden Center in Belden.

Video of Wednesday’s press conference, courtesy of the MBJ‘s Stephen McDill, is here.

Entergy among companies awaiting U.S. Supreme Court ruling on foreign tax credits

November 12th, 2012 No comments

The U.S. Supreme Court agreed in late October to consider whether three energy companies – including Entergy Corp. – are entitled to foreign tax credits after they each paid what the United Kingdom calls “windfall taxes.”

The issue arose out of a ruling from the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals against Pennsylvania-based PPL Corp., which owns a majority stake in a British electric utility that was included in a privatization of almost 30 U.K. companies that started in the late 1980s.

By the late 1990s, the public backlash over the perception that the companies had been sold for less than their worth led the U.K. government to impose a onetime windfall tax. PPL’s liability came out to $144.9 million. New Orleans-based Entergy’s tax bill resulted in the company claiming a $234 million credit here.

PPL and Entergy argued to the IRS that they were entitled to foreign income tax credits. The IRS rejected those claims, saying the windfall taxes the companies paid in the U.K. were based on their unrealized value, not profits, which could not be credited.

The 3rd Circuit upheld the IRS’ decision against PPL late last year. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, considering the same issue, ruled in June in Entergy’s favor.

The U.S. high court will likely issue a decision no later than June 2013.

Analysts have said that a decision in favor of the IRS will give that agency more authority to examine foreign tax credit claims, especially in cases where the law is vague.

“The issue is relevant to any international company,” Jerold Cohen, former IRS chief counsel, told Reuters. “The (Supreme) Court takes very few tax cases.”

Several groups, including the Cato Institute and the Goldwater Institute, have filed briefs supporting the companies.

PSC to look into ROE rates for Entergy, Miss. Power

August 7th, 2012 No comments

The Mississippi Public Service Commission voted 3-0 Tuesday morning to examine the formulas used to calculate return on equity for Mississippi Power Co. and for Entergy Mississippi.

Return on equity (ROE) is the amount of net income returned as a percentage of shareholders equity. It is used to measure a corporation’s profitability by revealing how much profit a company generates with the money shareholders have invested in, for example, things like new facilities and new infrastructure.

For utility companies, ROE is set as a percentage. The latest figures the PSC has approved for Entergy’s ROE is 11.63 percent; for MPC that figure is 10.62 percent. That’s about in the middle range for comparably sized utilities in the Southeast.

Each company uses multiple formulas to calculate its ROE, and takes the average of those formulas. For instance, MPC uses three formulas to calculate its ROE. The results generally end with a ROE of somewhere between 9 percent and 11 percent.

Commissioners voted Tuesday to hire consultants and to begin a series of hearings designed to examine the formulas. If the PSC decides it wants to change anything, it will have to be done in an entirely separate docket.

The hearings will likely last several months. It was unclear Tuesday if the first hearing would be a part of the regular meeting scheduled for September 11.