August 26, 2019

Your favorite vintage of French wine likely won't get much more expensive in the near future.

Officials from France and the United States reportedly reached a compromise on Monday following the Group of Seven summit in Biarritz, France, on a new French tax passed last month on digital services provided by large internet companies, like Google and Amazon.

The new agreement stipulates that France would repay companies the difference between its digital tax and whatever taxes come from the agreed-upon Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development's planned mechanism. The threshold for the French tax to be applicable for a company is annual revenues of more than $830 million — including $27 million generated in France — from "digital activities," like collection of user data and selling targeted advertising.

French President Emmanuel Macron praised the compromise, while maintaining that France will nix its national tax if and when his preferred method of an international system for digital taxation is implemented. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said OECD nations want a solution on that by next year.

President Trump had previously threatened to tax French wine if Paris moved forward with its approved three percent tax on digital services. Tim O'Donnell

January 22, 2019

On Monday night, Senate Republicans released a 1,300-page version of the plan President Trump outlined Saturday to reopen the federal government. It includes $5.7 billion for Trump's border wall, a three-year extension of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program for DREAMers, and bills to fund the parts of the government closed for 31 days and counting, plus $12.7 billion in assorted disaster and agricultural relief. Immigration experts also found several big, unheralded changes to the U.S. immigration system.

Democrats have already rejected the bill, and the details probably won't help win any over when Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) brings it up for a vote this week.

The first big change deals with asylum. Notably, "it makes it so Central American minors are ineligible for asylum if they don't apply at a processing center (to be established) in Central America," says The Federalist's Gabriel Malor. "Asylum is a form of relief for people who are being persecuted in their home countries and the authorities there are unable or unwilling to protect them (or are the source of the persecution). You can't condition asylum on people remaining in the place where they are persecuted."

Also, immigration lawyer Aaron Reichlin-Melnick notes, "only 50k Central American minors [would be] allowed to apply for asylum each year, and only 15k asylum applications can be granted," by Homeland Security Department officials (not judges) through "a kangaroo process." The bill would not extend Temporary Protected Status for all 300,000 immigrants from war-torn or disaster-struck countries, just some from Central America and Haiti.

The ban on Central American minors "is pretty bad and reason alone to oppose this bill," Malor argues. "But the changes to whether an application can be found to be frivolous applies to ALL applicants, and it's completely unreasonable." The bill "will (and should) get zero votes from Democrats," he adds, "and to be honest, Republicans should be shooting question marks at McConnell, too." Peter Weber

May 3, 2018

The Arizona teachers' strike has come to an end.

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) signed a budget bill Thursday morning to approve more than $300 million in teacher pay raises, AZCentral reports.

Lawmakers in the state worked through the night to pass the bill, bringing the week-long teacher walkout to an end. Thousands of teachers went on strike last week, and the vast majority of public schools across Arizona were closed for six straight days. Leaders of the strike said Wednesday that they would end the walkouts if the budget passed, even though it fell short of the group's demands.

Ducey approved a $10.4 billion spending plan that will give teachers an average 9 percent pay raise this year, and 5 percent more in each of the next two years, reports The Associated Press. It will additionally restore some of the state's previously cut funding for public school infrastructure and resources. Teachers were demanding a 20 percent raise and an additional $1 billion in school funding. Summer Meza

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