Local/state briefs

Hawes to exhibit her art at SMAC Gallery

The book art and poetry of Barb Hawes will be shown at the SMAC Gallery from March 15 – April 27. The public is invited to attend the exhibit reception from 5-7 p.m. Thursday, March 15. Special violin music will be provided by Aleigha Glidewell, an art study for youth grant recipient, during the reception from 5:30-6:30 p.m.

Hawes, a 2012 SMAC Individual Artist grantee, shared her background as “a resident of Marshall since 1997 with most of my creative career developed on the prairie. I studied fine art at Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois. Inspired by illuminated manuscripts, mathematical knot theory, and medieval herbals, I produce small pen and ink drawings that repeat elements in intricate designs. As my interest began to settle around book making, I explored merging comics and knitting by creating “Stitches: The Biggest Gift,” an illustrated serial how-to-knit book. From 2011-2014, I apprenticed with Andy Kahmann at A to Z Letterpress Printing in Montevideo. During this time, I also studied hand-sewn bookbinding techniques, which led to my interest in the book as a sculptural form.”

Utilities to save millions due to federal tax cuts

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Xcel Energy has notified regulators that its revenue needs will be reduced by about $140 million this year due to federal tax cuts.

The 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act reduced the corporate income tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent. The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission started an investigation in December into how the law would impact electric and natural gas utility rates and services.

But it remains to be seen how much of that savings will be passed to utility customers. In a filing with the commission, Xcel said customers would “receive the full value of the tax reform benefits,” but didn’t offer specifics.

Xcel said the commission could decide to use the tax savings to pursue ways to reduce greenhouse gases.

“We believe the savings from tax reform can help us keep customers’ bills low and allow for ongoing investment in clean, reliable and low-cost energy,” the company said.

Xcel has 1.3 million customers in Minnesota and is the state’s largest electric utility company.

Minnesota’s largest gas utility, CenterPoint Energy, said it plans to return any savings to its customers. The savings could be applied to the utility’s current rate hike request of 6.4 percent, the Star Tribune reported.

CenterPoint’s filing with the commission said the corporate tax cut reduced its federal income taxes by $4.4 million. The filing didn’t estimate savings from other utility-related tax changes. The Houston-based utility has 840,000 Minnesota customers.

Meanwhile, Minnesota Power, based in Duluth, said its $23 million in savings could be used to cover costs.

“While the company agrees that impacts of the tax legislation should flow to customers, those impacts should not be treated in isolation from other operating costs,” the filing said.

It recently announced cost-cutting plans that are likely to include layoffs. Minnesota Power serves 145,000 customers in northeast and north central Minnesota.

Allina patients notified of risk due to reused syringes

ST. PAUL (AP) — Allina Health has notified dozens of patients at St. Paul dermatology clinic that they might want to be tested for HIV or hepatitis because a nurse practitioner had been reusing syringes.

The St. Paul Pioneer Press reported Allina spokesman David Kanihan said the risk of infection is extremely low — less than one percent. But, the tests were offered out of an abundance of caution. Allina notified 161 patients about the infection risk. The health care provider says the syringes, but not the needles, were reused by the nurse practitioner from October to February.

Allina said they don’t know why the employee, who has been fired, did not follow protocol.

MNLARS funding clears hurdle but with strings attached

ST. PAUL (AP) — Gov. Mark Dayton and Republican lawmakers are clashing over how to fix the state’s new vehicle registration system.

The botched rollout of the platform dubbed MNLARS has caused long delays and headaches. State officials have said they need an extra $43 million to fix it, including an emergency $10 million infusion.

The Republican-controlled Legislature missed a deadline last week to provide that funding. A House committee advanced a bill Tuesday that would authorize the money but force to cut it from executive agency budgets.

GOP lawmakers said that measure is integral to hold Dayton’s administration responsible for the technological flop. Dayton calls it a nonstarter.

The dispute could prolong the necessary fixes. The GOP-backed bill also directs the state to solicit bids for an outside vendor to finish the project.