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The Post  
Steve Bannon Off National Security Council; Hard Rock Renovating Taj Mahal; Beverage Tax in Court
  by: iradioal - Philadelphia, PA
started: 04/06/17 2:51 am | updated: 04/06/17 2:51 am
Steve Bannon, President Trump's chief strategist, has been removed from his permanent seat on the National Security Council. The move was made apparent today in a regulatory filing that listed the regular attendees of the NSC's Principals Committee. Bannon's title was no longer listed. In a controversial and unprecedented move, Trump signed an executive memorandum in January authorizing his participation, while at the same time reducing the roles of the Director of National Intelligence and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. It is said that Bannon is fine with this recent move. H.R. McMaster was named National Security Adviser in February after Mike Flynn resigned.

The former Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City, NJ, was purchased from billionaire Carl Icahn by Florida-based Hard Rock International last month. Hard Rock held a press conference to announced its plans for the boardwalk property. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian were also there. Hard Rock and its investment partners plans to invest over $300 million into renovating the property over the next year. Everything from the rooms to the casino to the outside facades will get a makeover. Around 1,000 jobs will be created during the construction phase. 3,000 jobs will be created when the facility opens again next spring.

Attorneys for both the City of Philadelphia and the beverage industry appeared in front of a seven-judge Commonwealth Court panel in Pittsburgh on Wednesday. Philadelphia's 1.5 cent/ounce Beverage Tax was the subject before the appeals court. The tax was upheld in December by a Philadelphia Common Pleas court. Attorney Chip Baker argued against the tax saying it is in violation of the 1932 Sterling Act that gave Philadelphia its own tax authority but also prohibits it from taxing anything already taxed by the state. Since beverages are already subject to a 6% sales tax they can't be taxed again according to Baker. Attorney Mark Aronchick, arguing for the city, says that the beverage tax is not on the beverages themselves but on the distribution to the retail outlets. The tax is also paid by the distribution centers. Aronchick says the tax is on a business transaction not a sale. Baker argued that placing the tax on distributors is subterfuge. He says the state's sales tax statute prohibits "tax pyramiding" or having different jurisdictions tax the same product at different points along the supply chain. The court will issue its ruling at a later date.

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