Following his inauguration on January 20th, President Trump issued several Executive Orders, one of which was issued on January 25, 2017 and titled, “Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States” (referred to herein as the “Order”). Among other things, this Order punishes so-called “sanctuary jurisdictions” by stripping them of federal grants. As justification for this punitive measure, the Order states that “sanctuary jurisdictions … willfully violate Federal law in an attempt to shield aliens from removal…. These jurisdictions have caused immeasurable harm to the American people and to the very fabric of our Republic.”

In the months since the Order, many state and local entities have parsed the Order to determine whether they would be considered a “sanctuary jurisdiction,” what funding may be in jeopardy, and whether they can modify their policies to limit or eliminate application of the Order. In the midst of these uncertainties, many municipalities also have been faced with the issue of how to address the potential consequences of “sanctuary jurisdiction” status in their public offering documents when they are considering issuing municipal bonds for sale to the investor public.

Continue Reading Sanctuary Jurisdictions and Municipal Bond Disclosure

The National Association of Bond Lawyers (NABL) and the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA) recently released model issue price documents in connection with the soon-to-be effective Treasury Regulations on establishing the issue price of a tax-exempt bond issue. NABL’s model documents can be accessed here; SIFMA’s documents can be accessed here.

These model documents have been issued in response to the finalized Treasury Regulations on issue price, published by the Department of the Treasury on December 9, 2016.  The final regulations – which become effective on June 7, 2017 – retain the existing rule that in general, the issue price of a series of bonds is the first price at which a substantial amount (10%) of the bonds is sold to the public. The regulations add two special rules, however, which may be selected by the issuer in connection with the determination of the issue price: a special rule for competitive sales, and a special rule where the underwriter or underwriters agree to “hold the price” on the initial sale of the bonds to a price that is not higher than the initial offering price.

The model documents published by SIFMA and NABL provide a uniform solution for underwriters and issuers to ensure compliance with the final regulations, in particular in determining which of the three rules for determining issue price apply, and ensuring that the requirements for application of the rule are met. It is expected that both SIFMA and NABL will finalize these forms in the coming weeks after receipt of any comments from the public. Professionals working in the public finance industry should carefully review the forms now to get familiar with their requirements in advance of the effective date for the final regulations.




In City of Allentown, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ordered the City to implement an interest arbitration award which contained (among modifications to wages, sick leave, vacation, pension and overtime) a minimum staffing requirement of 25 firefighters per shift.

Continue Reading Another Attempt to Control Rising Pension Costs in Pennsylvania Thwarted

Litigation can often be long and tiresome. Unfortunately, a successful verdict does not always lead to the desired outcome – the defendant paying up. Previous parts of this series addressed other aspects of collecting and enforcing judgments. Part I of this series discussed collecting a money judgment through the garnishment process. Part II explained a second option, conducting a sheriff’s sale of the defendant’s real or personal property. In the second part of this series, the article assumed that no liens existed against the defendant’s property.

For the third installment in the series, however, we will look at the effect that previous liens against the defendant have on one’s ability to collect on a judgment.

The entry of a judgment by a court acts as a lien on all real property in that county. The judgment essentially acts as an underlying security for the debt owed by the defendant. When a defendant sells his or her real property, the defendant is obligated to first satisfy any liens on the real property, or the new owner cannot take a clean title.

So, how does a judgment creditor know where they stand in relation to other judgments and liens?

State statute dictates the priority in which liens must be paid, and defendants pay liens with the highest priority first. Filed state tax liens have priority over all other liens. Mortgage liens have second priority, and include, but are not limited to, standard mortgages, open-end mortgages, and defeasible deeds in the nature of mortgages. Next in line are verdicts for a specific sum of money. Other adverse judgments from a court have fourth lien priority, followed by amicable judgments, and then writs issued by the court of common pleas. Last are other instruments that, when filed and indexed with the prothonotary of the court of common pleas, create liens against real property.

Lien priority does not last forever, and in many instances priority will be lost if a plaintiff does not take the necessary steps to revive the judgment lien within five years after its entry. Note, tax liens and mortgage liens are distinct from judgment liens because they are not the result of a court judgment. Therefore, plaintiffs do not need to revive tax liens and mortgage liens in order to maintain priority.

Judgment revival occurs in two ways. The first way is through an agreement to revive, which requires the defendant’s signature. If the defendant refuses to sign the agreement to revive or cannot be found, then the plaintiff must pursue the second option and file a praecipe for writ of revival. Defendants have a limited number of defenses against the writ of revival and therefore courts are likely to issue the revival writ upon the filing of the praecipe.

Understanding lien priority is important to ensuring that you are in the best position to receive your long over-due payment. The litigation group at McNees Wallace & Nurick can aid clients in understanding lien priority and avoiding any associated pitfalls.

The author extends special thanks to Erica Koser for her assistance with this article.

In January 2015, the Seventh Circuit, recognizing that it was an outlier among the Circuits in holding that pretrial detainees could not sue under the Fourth Amendment but rather instead sued under the Due Process Clause to challenge his/her detention, stated that a request by a detainee to overturn settled Circuit precedent was “better left for the Supreme Court.” In the Supreme Court’s words, it granted cert “on cue,” and on March 16, 2017, overturned the Seventh Circuit’s precedent by holding that pretrial detainees retained the right to sue under the Fourth Amendment over their detention for unlawful search and seizure. The Court held that the Fourth Amendment governs a claim for unlawful pretrial detention even beyond the start of legal process.

Continue Reading Supreme Court Reins in the Seventh Circuit and Reaffirms Fourth Amendment Protections

A series of municipal debt reform proposals have been reintroduced in the Pennsylvania Senate.

Versions of these proposals have been introduced in every legislative session dating back to the 2013-2014 term, although the proposals have changed somewhat over the years. This session’s bills are number SB 490 through SB 493.

As with bills from past sessions, the current proposals would change the way municipalities obtain approval from the Department of Community and Economic Development (“DCED”) to issue bonds, notes or other public debt, as well as make a number of reforms to those current provisions governing interest rate swaps, performance bonds and municipal authority projects.

Continue Reading Municipal Debt Reform Proposals Reintroduced in State Senate

As if Counties could forget that Court employees are just a little different, the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania sent us another reminder when the Court held that the Pennsylvania Whistleblower Law does not apply to judicial employees.

Gregory Thomas was a Juvenile Probation Officer serving with the Washington County Court of Common Pleas until October 2014, at which time he was allegedly forced to quit. Prior to his resignation, Thomas had been a participant in an investigation regarding the misappropriation of funds by the Juvenile Probation Office. During the investigation, it was revealed that the Chief of the Juvenile Probation Office had directed Thomas to email the County’s purchasing office in July 2014 to state that a mixed martial arts training session had taken place on June 6 and 7 in partial satisfaction of the state’s 40-hour annual training requirement. The email sought, and was granted, funding for the training. No such training actually occurred, and Thomas confirmed to the investigating detectives that he had not attended this training; he alleged that he had been told by the Chief Probation Officer to tell the detectives otherwise.

Continue Reading Scope of Pennsylvania’s Whistleblower Law Examined

Blight – or urban decay – reduces property values, has been linked to higher crime rates, and is visible throughout Pennsylvania in the form of deteriorated and abandoned properties.  The Pennsylvania Neighborhood Blight Reclamation and Revitalization Act, 53  Pa.C.S. §6101 et seq. (the “Act”), provides additional tools to combat blight.  Originally passed as Act 90 of 2010 (“Act 90”), the Act subsequently was amended through the passage of Act 171 of 2014 (“Act 171”) and Act 34 of 2015 (“Act 34”).  Through the Act and related laws as well as financing opportunities, municipalities and developers have the tools necessary to reduce blight and make neighborhoods safer and more desirable.

Continue Reading Combating Blight: New Tools for the Ongoing Municipal Battle

At its meeting on March 1, 2017, the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) voted to formally propose and publish for comment amendments to Rule 15c2-12 to add two additional disclosure events to written continuing disclosure undertakings required to be obtained by underwriters in primary securities offerings.

Continue Reading SEC Proposes Amendments to Rule 15c2-12 to Address Bank Loan Disclosure Concerns

McNees Wallace & Nurick LLC was ranked fifth in Pennsylvania in the 2016 Bond Counsel Rankings by The Bond Buyer. The firm also was ranked fourth in Pennsylvania in the 2016 Bond Underwriter’s Counsel, and is one of just two firms to appear in the top five in both lists.

Continue Reading McNees Ranked in Top 5 for Bond Counsel and Underwriter’s Counsel in Pennsylvania for 2016