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Econ Focus

First Quarter 2015

Regional News at a Glance


In May, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a Maryland income tax law because it double-taxed residents' out-of-state income. Normally, income is taxed both where it is made and where taxpayers live, and states give a full credit for the income taxes paid on out-of-state earnings. Maryland levies so-called "state" and "county" taxes, but it allowed credits to be claimed only for the "state" taxes; the court said that both types of taxes in Maryland are actually state taxes.


North Carolina's life sciences industry grew 31 percent between 2001-2012, more than four times the industry's national growth rate, according to a study released in March by the research firm Battelle. The study was prepared for the private nonprofit North Carolina Biotechnology Center, which is supported by the state's General Assembly. The report also found life science companies in the state were responsible for $73 billion in economic output in 2014 and accounted for 48 percent of all net new jobs in North Carolina from 2001-2012.


Gov. Nikki Haley announced in June that the state had paid off a nearly $1 billion loan from the federal government five months early. The loan was granted over five years ago to help with unemployment costs during the recession. The early repayment saved the state more than $12 million in interest payments. South Carolina was one of 36 states that borrowed from the federal government for their unemployment insurance funds in the last six years.


The state has launched a new business plan competition for entrepreneurs in bioscience and energy sectors. Virginia Velocity offers $850,000 in prizes that will be shared among at least four winners. It is open to all companies in these two sectors, including those based outside of Virginia if they are willing to relocate to the state for two years. Winners will be announced after the final presentations in Richmond in early September.


Low-income D.C. residents are receiving assistance from a new program that outfits single-family homes with solar panels at no cost to the households. The Solar Advantage Plus Program is funded jointly by the D.C. Department of the Environment and the DC Sustainable Energy Utility, a partnership created by the 2008 Clean and Affordable Energy Act to administer sustainable energy programs in D.C. Households must meet certain income requirements to be eligible, as well as have their systems installed by Sept. 30.


The state Supreme Court ruled in May that doctors and pharmacies that negligently prescribe and dispense pain medications can be sued for enabling addictions. The defendants argued that illegal actions by the plaintiffs in obtaining the drugs meant they could not seek damages. The court's decision stated that juries must weigh the plaintiffs' criminal conduct against any alleged negligence of doctors or pharmacists. In response, legislation effective May 25 prevents plaintiffs from receiving damages that arise as part of their own felony criminal acts.

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