House panel OKs tax breaks for startups, self-employed

PHOENIX - An Arizona House committee gave initial approval Wednesday to a pair of bills that provide tax breaks for companies that expand or invest in new startups, and added on a 2 percent tax deduction for the self-employed valued at $58 million a year.

The first bill would create a tax credit for insurance companies that invest in a new high-tech fund overseen by the Arizona Commerce Authority.

GOP House Speaker Andy Tobin's bill would give insurers a credit against their premium taxes of up to $10 million in the budget year beginning July 1 and $20 million in the next two years. They could carry unused credits forward for 15 years.

The Commerce Authority would use the fund to help high-tech businesses relocate or expand. The state would recover the first $50 million in credits from profits earned from their investments and split any additional revenue, but there's no guarantee the money would be repaid.

The second bill that passed the Commerce Committee Wednesday would lower the property tax rate for businesses that expand and add jobs. The value of that tax break isn't yet known. Committee chairman Tom Forese, R-Chandler, pushed the bill through committee and added a last-minute amendment creating the 2 percent tax deduction for self-employed Arizonans on their first $113,700 of income.

State Farm plans to expand operations in Phoenix area

PHOENIX - The State Farm insurance company is planning to grow its operations in the Phoenix metropolitan area. A State Farm spokesman confirmed that the company will boost its established operations in metro Phoenix as well as in Dallas and Atlanta, which it considers strong markets.

Illinois-based State Farm reportedly plans to build upon its existing presence to create regional hubs that could employ thousands of new workers.

Tempe is home to State Farm's current Arizona operations.

The Arizona Republic says State Farm had almost 1,300 full-time employees and 26 part-time workers in Arizona as of December 2011.

ASU fighting porn site over use of 'Sun Devil'

PHOENIX - Arizona State University has taken legal action against the adult website that is using the term "Sun Devil." The school contends is illegally using the name, claiming it amounts to a trademark infringement.

A representative from Sun Devil Angels told Phoenix station KTVK-TV that the website has been using the term "Sun Devil" since 2004 and hasn't had a problem with ASU until November 2012. The porn site is based in New Jersey and reportedly doesn't use colors, logos, students or other ASU affiliations.

Sun Devil Angels officials say it would cost the company $50,000 to change its domain name and everything associated with that name. They say the company has no intention of making any name changes and plans to fight ASU.

The Associated Press