Minimum Competence - Daily Legal News Podcast
Minimum Competence
Tues 7/18 - US Pillar 2 Reprieve, Trump's Lawyers Back in FL Court, CA Hands Uber Drivers Big Win, Column Tuesday on State Film Credits

Tues 7/18 - US Pillar 2 Reprieve, Trump's Lawyers Back in FL Court, CA Hands Uber Drivers Big Win, Column Tuesday on State Film Credits

US companies get reprieve from GMT under Pillar 2, Trump’s lawyers back in court in FL for docs case, CA hands a big legal win to Uber drivers and Column Tuesday, on state funding for arts.

On this day in history, July 18 1956, the Narcotic Control Act was passed. 

The Narcotic Control Act of 1956 and similar legislation have faced significant criticism for their punitive approach to drug offenses. Critics argue that this model of severe mandatory sentences, particularly for nonviolent drug offenses, exacerbates issues related to over-incarceration without effectively addressing the root causes of drug addiction and the societal harms associated with drug use. Instead, they posit that these resources would be better spent on prevention, education, and treatment initiatives to help curb substance misuse. Furthermore, some critics point to the social and racial disparities in the enforcement of these laws, with disproportionately high rates of incarceration for marginalized communities, which further perpetuate systemic inequalities. They also express concerns over the lack of flexibility in sentencing, asserting that the mandatory sentences can be overly harsh and fail to consider individual circumstances or the potential for rehabilitation. There is a growing consensus among critics that a public health approach, rather than a strictly punitive one, could lead to more beneficial outcomes in addressing the complex issues surrounding drug use and addiction.

Owing to all of that, on this day in history a better future was lost. 

Countries have agreed on a "transitional safe harbor" to temporarily safeguard US companies' income from the 15% global minimum tax, or Pillar Two. This measure, effective until December 31, 2026, may help reduce domestic political tension in the US over the undertaxed profits rule (UTPR). According to the UTPR, foreign governments could levy additional taxes on a US multinational's income if it pays less than a 15% effective tax rate in the US. However, during the transition period, a company's parent jurisdiction will not face the UTPR top-up tax if it maintains a corporate tax rate of at least 20%. While this solution provides immediate relief, it does not permanently address issues causing low US income tax, such as R&D credits. The transitional period will allow the US Congress to potentially respond to Pillar Two, including considering changes to the structure of tax credits or adopting a domestic top-up tax. Finally, the guidance indicated that the transition period would not be extended.

US Companies Get Temporary Reprieve from Foreign Minimum Tax (3)

Lawyers for former U.S. President Donald Trump will appear in a Florida court on Tuesday concerning charges of mishandling classified documents. Trump is charged with unlawfully retaining national defense documents after leaving office in 2021 and conspiring to obstruct government efforts to retrieve them. The hearing will consider the logistics of conducting a trial involving classified information without revealing top-secret data publicly. Trump's lawyers and prosecutors are expected to discuss deadlines for handing over classified documents that might be used as evidence. Trump has pleaded not guilty to the charges and claims that the preservation of presidential records allowed him to retain sensitive documents even after his term. He further claims to have declassified the documents before taking them. However, a taped conversation cited in the indictment contradicts this claim. If convicted, Trump could face a sentence of up to 20 years in prison under the Espionage Act, but, let me just nip that fantasy talk in the bud right now – Trump will not be going to prison. The rich rarely do and the powerful never do. 

Trump's lawyers to appear in Florida court in classified documents case | Reuters

Uber Technologies Inc. is required to face a California lawsuit claiming the company should have covered UberEats drivers' work-related expenses, according to a ruling from the state's Supreme Court. This is a significant setback for Uber and potentially other similar companies operating in California. The lawsuit was initiated by UberEats driver Erik Adolph who argued that the company misclassified UberEats drivers as independent contractors, thereby avoiding the need to reimburse work expenses as stipulated under California law for employees. Despite Adolph signing an agreement to bring his own legal claims in private arbitration, the court held that this didn't forfeit his right to sue on behalf of a larger group of workers. The decision could reduce the importance of a 2022 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that allowed companies to force individual claims into arbitration. Uber stated it is considering its appellate options, while Adolph's representation suggested this may cause companies to rethink forcing workers' claims into arbitration if large-scale lawsuits can still proceed in court. Critics of mandatory arbitration argue it discourages workers from bringing small-sum individual claims and that arbitration disputes are more likely to favor employers.

Court rules against Uber in major win for California workers | Reuters

Oh look, its Column Tuesday – and so soon after Monday!

In this week’s column, I criticize tax breaks provided by many U.S. states to big film studios and advocate for the direct funding of local arts instead. I argue that these incentives, while obviously hugely beneficial to the studios, don't significantly stimulate local economies or generate expected tax revenue. The top three states leading in production incentives are California, New York, and Georgia; with Georgia having provided $1.3 billion in tax incentives to studios last year alone. 

I suggest that the funds spent on these incentives could be better utilized in areas such as education–or funding the arts they would purport to be intended for. I propose that funds be allocated directly to artists and creators, similar to the Federal Writers' Project in the 1930s, instead of filtering through studios. Finally, I criticize the premise of these tax incentives, arguing that they are not based on economic viability but are more likely a result of a mutual dependence between the states and Hollywood.

Briefly, if you haven’t heard of the Federal Writers Project, I invite you to look into it. It was a New Deal initiative active from 1935 to 1943 as part of the Works Progress Administration (WPA). It was aimed at supporting writers during and after the Great Depression. One of its most notable works was the creation of the American Guide Series, which comprised guidebooks for each state. These books offered rich, detailed descriptions of each state's history, culture, and notable landmarks, providing an unprecedented panoramic view of the United States during a period where most Americans were unable to travel. They remain absolute gems, and can be picked up on eBay or in used bookstores for a song. I especially recommend the New Jersey and New York editions, for obvious regional bias reasons. 

States Should End Tax Breaks to Big Studios and Fund Local Arts

Minimum Competence - Daily Legal News Podcast
Minimum Competence
The idea is that this podcast can accompany you on your commute home and will render you minimally competent on the major legal news stories of the day. The transcript is available in the form of a newsletter at