Tenn. House Unanimously Approves Food Tax Reduction
The Tenn. House has unanimously approved Gov. Bill Haslam's proposal to cut the state's sales tax on groceries.
If approved by the Senate, the state's tax on groceries would drop by a quarter percentage point to 5 percent. Lawmakers last year enacted a cut of the same amount.
The state's sales tax on non-food items is 7 percent.
The tax reduction is projected to cost the state about $23 million in state revenue -- or an average annual tax savings of about $3.56 for each Tennessean.
The companion bill is awaiting a vote in the Senate Finance Committee but is not expected to find much opposition.
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Last Update on January 26, 2015 18:16 GMT
ATHENS, Greece (AP) -- Radical left leader Alexis Tsipras has been sworn in as Greece's new prime minister, becoming the youngest man to hold the post in 150 years.
Tsipras' anti-bailout Syriza party gained the backing needed to form a government by creating an alliance with a small right-wing nationalist party.
Syriza won 36.3 percent of the vote in Sunday's early general elections but fell two seats short of the necessary majority in the 300-seat parliament to form a government on its own. The Independent Greeks party took 4.7 percent of the votes. The two ideologically opposed parties share only their opposition to the bailout.
The surprise alliance boosted stock markets across Europe that had fallen on news of the uncertain election results and fear of a second election. Stocks had fallen as much as 4 percent in Athens on Monday morning, before recovering.
MEDICARE PAYMENT OVERHAUL
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Obama administration is unveiling what it calls a historic shift in the way Medicare pays hospitals and doctors. The goal is to reward quality care and not just the sheer volume of services like imaging scans.
Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell made the announcement today, before a broad cross-section of health care industry representatives including insurers, hospitals and doctors, as well as employers, who finance coverage for most workers and their families.
Building on experiments under the president's health care law, Burwell set a goal of tying 50 percent of payments under traditional Medicare to new models of care by the end of 2018.
That can include so-called accountable care organizations, which coordinate care to help keep patients out of the hospital.
IBM JOB CUTS
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- IBM is pooh-poohing a published report that the giant technology company is planning a big reorganization and massive job cuts affecting more than 100,000 people.
The company disclosed plans for some layoffs last week, but it says in a statement that they affect "several thousand people," or "a small fraction of what's been reported."
That's in contrast with a report that appeared last week on the website of Forbes magazine, which predicted as many as one in four IBM employees might lose their jobs in a massive shake-up called "Project Chrome." IBM issued another disappointing earnings report last week that showed fourth-quarter revenue and net income had fallen.
The company says some workers will leave as IBM "rebalances" to make room for hiring about 15,000 workers with new skills.
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (AP) -- Toy maker Mattel says Bryan Stockton has resigned after about three years of leading the struggling maker of Barbie dolls and Hot Wheels cars.
The El Segundo, California, company also is reporting preliminary four-quarter earnings and revenue that missed Wall Street expectations, and its stock is sliding.
The company says longtime board member Christopher A. Sinclair will replace Stockton as chairman and interim CEO. Stockton because CEO in January 2012 and then was named chairman a year later.
Mattel Inc. says it earned 44 cents per share in the fourth quarter, or 52 cents per share, not counting hits from integration costs and taxes. Revenue fell 6 percent to $1.99 billion.
Analysts were expecting 91 cents per share on $2.14 billion in revenue.
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) -- Rock-Tenn and MeadWestvaco are joining to form a $16 billion packaging company.
As part of the deal, MeadWestvaco Corp. stockholders will receive 0.78 shares of the combined company for each share they own. Rock-Tenn shareholders will be allowed to choose either 1 share of the combined company or a specific cash amount for each RockTenn share held.
Rock-Tenn CEO Steven Voorhees will be the CEO of the new company.
The boards of both companies approved the deal, which still needs approval from shareholders.
Within three years, the deal is expected to result in annual cost savings of $300 million, though officials did not say if the savings would include job cuts at any of its locations around the world.
The tie-up is expected to close in the second quarter.
AT&T buying Nextel Mexico from NII Holdings
DALLAS (AP) -- AT&T is buying Nextel Mexico from NII Holdings for about $1.88 billion, minus the company's debt.
The deal will give AT&T Inc. companies that operate under the name Nextel Mexico and hold all of the wireless properties in Mexico held by NII Holdings Inc. That includes spectrum licenses, network assets, retail stores and about 3 million subscribers. Nextel Mexico's network covers approximately 76 million people.
The acquisition is subject to a bankruptcy auction and approvals by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York, which is currently overseeing the restructuring of NII Holdings. The company, based in Reston, Virginia, sought bankruptcy protection in September.
The deal is also subject to regulatory approval by Mexico's telecom regulator Instituto Federal de Telecomunicaciones.
The sale is expected to close in mid-2015.
SUPREME COURT-RETIREE HEALTH CARE
WASHINGTON (AP) -- A unanimous Supreme Court is ordering lower courts to take a new look at a dispute over a chemical company's efforts to cut costs in its health plan for retired workers.
Justice Clarence Thomas wrote the court's opinion that threw out a judgment in favor of the retirees of the Point Pleasant Polyester Plant in Apple Grove, West Virginia. M&G Polymers USA LLC is the current owner of the facility.
Lower courts ruled that some retirees had been promised lifetime, cost-free health benefits.
The Supreme Court did not decide whether the courts came to the right conclusion, only that they employed faulty legal reasoning in interpreting a 15-year-old agreement dealing with retiree pensions and other benefits.
The case is M&G Polymers USA LLC v. Tackett, 13-1010.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The U.S. Secret Service says a small drone flying at low altitude crashed into the White House complex before dawn while the president was in India.
An investigation is underway to determine its origin and identify suspects and their motive.
Secret Service spokesman Brian Leary says the device was a quadcopter and was about 2 feet in diameter. A quadcopter is an unmanned aircraft that is lifted by four propellers.
Leary says the quadcopter was flying at a very low altitude before it crashed on the southeast side of the executive mansion around 3:08 a.m. Monday.
President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama were in New Delhi and not at the White House.
Leary says in a statement that the White House complex was immediately locked down until the device was examined and cleared.
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