Recognizing the importance of The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA), our  colleague, Attorney Tim Horstmann, wrote the first article in this series titled “The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. Here’s What to Expect” in April 2021 and in July 2021 Tim penned an article titled “ARPA Windfall: What May Pa. and Its Municipalities Do With This Money?” Adding to this series, we will now discuss what to expect in an ARPA audit.  This article will focus on Pennsylvania’s $13,450,275,500.40 portion of the $350B Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds Program (CSLFRF), which is the specific program under ARPA that provides new funding to tribal governments, states, territories, and local governments across the United States to aid in their recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. Continue Reading ARPA Audits– What to Expect and What You Can Advise Your Clients to Do Now

Public sector employers of all sizes have been asking whether they must comply with OSHA’s recent Emergency Temporary Standard (“ETS”).  The short in Pennsylvania is no – the ETS does not apply to state and local government employers in those states, such as Pennsylvania, that do not have State Plans (that is, an OSHA-approved plan by which a state assumes responsibility for occupational health and safety standards). Continue Reading PA State and Local Government Employers Escape OSHA’s Vax or Test Rule

On Friday, September 10, 2021, the House Ways and Means Committee released the text of a bill – known as the “Build Back Better Act” – that would restore the ability of state and local governments to issue tax-exempt “advance refunding” bonds, i.e., bonds issued more than 90 days before the redemption date of the bonds to be refunded. Continue Reading Tax-Exempt Advance Refundings Included in Proposed Build Back Better Act

On July 16, 2021, the Pennsylvania Department of Education (“PDE”) submitted its American Rescue Plan Act (“ARP”) Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (“ESSER”) Plan to the United States Department of Education (“USDE”).  ARP ESSER is sometimes referred to as “ESSER III.”  Pennsylvania’s 78-page plan can be found here:  Pennsylvania ARP ESSER State Plan.  Less than a month later, on August 5, 2021, USDE approved Pennsylvania’s ARP ESSER Plan.

That plan approved nearly $5 billion in federal funding to flow to public school districts, including charters (referred to as a Local Education Agency (“LEA”)) across the Commonwealth.[1]  If you are curious as to what was allocated for your school district, that can be found at PDE’s website.  Although there is not a specific deadline to apply for ARP ESSER funds, PDE strongly encouraged LEAs to apply by September 1, 2021. Continue Reading The Pennsylvania School Board Director’s Quick-Guide to ARP ESSER/ESSER III Funding

With the effective date of recent amendments to Pennsylvania’s open meetings law, commonly known as the Sunshine Act, rapidly approaching on August 29, 2021, Pennsylvania public agencies, including but not limited to School Boards, Counties, Townships, Boroughs, Cities, and the Governing Bodies of community colleges, must be prepared to ensure they are in compliance with Act 65’s changes.

As background, on June 30, 2021, Governor Wolf signed into law as Act 65 of 2021 Senate Bill 554, which amends the Sunshine Act to mandate that a public agency’s agenda include all issues where a deliberation is expected, even if there is no anticipated vote on the issue. Furthermore, Act 65 requires that this agenda must be available to the public at least 24 hours prior to the public meeting, with few exceptions. Continue Reading Compliance with the Sunshine Act Amendments: What Pennsylvania Public Agencies Need to Know

A recent decision from the Pennsylvania Prevailing Wage Appeals Board (the “Board”), if affirmed, would have dramatic consequences for private, nonprofit colleges and universities that rely on bonds issued by public entities to finance their construction projects. The decision, In Re: Grievance filed by International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local No. 98, Docket No. PWAB-1G-2018, was recently appealed to the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court.

In the case, the Board determined that the Pennsylvania Prevailing Wage Act (the “Prevailing Wage Act”), applies to construction projects at Ursinus College (the “College”), a private, nonprofit college, because the projects were financed by bonds issued by the Montgomery County Higher Education and Health Authority (the “Authority”), a municipal authority and public instrumentality of the County of Montgomery organized under the Pennsylvania Municipality Authorities Act (the “Authorities Act”). Continue Reading Private College and University Construction Projects Financed by Bonds Are Subject to Prevailing Wage Act, Appeals Board Finds

McNees Wallace & Nurick LLC is pleased to announce the addition of accomplished public finance attorney Frannie Reilly to its Devon office.  Reilly, who most recently led her own practice in Swarthmore, adds extensive experience to the firm’s Public Finance & Government Services, Corporate & Tax, and Charitable and Non-Profit Groups.

Reilly has served as bond, borrower, institution and underwriter’s counsel to issuers, colleges, universities, schools, health care institutions, state agencies and investment banking firms.  She advises clients on issuance, offering, structuring, remarketing, and restructuring of tax-exempt and taxable municipal securities and other debt instruments.  In addition, she counsels clients on corporate policies, best practices and corporate governance.  For various nonprofit organizations, Reilly advises on fiduciary duties, contract issues, compliance concerns and general corporate reviews.

Reilly is an adjunct professor at La Salle University (Masters of Science in the Nonprofit Leadership program), teaching the Law and Ethics course and Capstone course.

For more information, and to contact Reilly, visit her McNees website, at https://www.mcneeslaw.com/people/frannie-reilly/.

In a previous article, I discussed the enactment of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (“ARPA”), which provides for almost two trillion dollars of new federal spending to combat the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic. ARPA provided approximately $350 Billion of new funding to tribal governments, states, territories, and local governments, $14 Billion of which was estimated to be received by Pennsylvania and its municipalities. Initial federal ARPA funding to the states and their political subdivisions was estimated to begin as early as May.

By now, Pennsylvania and its municipalities have received at least a portion of their ARPA funds. But what can they do with it? On May 17, 2021, the United States Department of the Treasury (the “Department”) published an interim final rule providing guidance to recipients on the use of ARPA funds. Consistent with ARPA, the Department in the interim final rule established four broad categories of authorized spending, (i) Public Health and Economic Impacts; (ii) Premium Pay; (iii) Revenue Loss; and (iv) Investments in Infrastructure. Each of these categories is discussed below. Continue Reading ARPA Windfall: What May Pennsylvania and its Municipalities Do with this Money?

This post was authored by Adam Santucci and Daniel Serrano.  Adam is the Chair of the Public Finance and Government Services Group at McNees.  Danny is a CAMP 1L Intern with McNees.  Danny is currently a student at the Pennsylvania State University and expects to earn his J.D. in May of 2023.

On June 23, 2021, in an 8-1 decision, the Supreme Court of the United States issued its opinion in Mahanoy Area Sch. Dist. v. B.L., holding that a high school’s interest in preventing students from using vulgar language to criticize school sports teams or staff does not override students’ rights to free expression under the First Amendment. The Court made clear that students do not “shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression” even “at the school house gate.”

Here is the background.  After being denied a position on the school’s varsity cheerleading team, B.L., a ninth-grader at Mahanoy Area School District, messaged a group of 250 “friends” on the social media platform Snapchat, where she expressed frustration with the school and cheerleading team. Her messages used “vulgar language and gestures” while criticizing the school and cheerleading team. Although the images and messages were set to expire within 24 hours, the images spread throughout the school and were brought to the attention of the cheerleading coaches. As a result, the school suspended B.L. from cheerleading for a year.  In response to the school’s disciplinary actions, B.L.’s parents appealed the suspension to the school board with no success. When that failed, they sought relief in federal court. Continue Reading Cheerleader’s Vulgar Snapchat Trashing Cheer Team is Protected Speech

This post was authored by Timothy Horstmann and Frank Lavery, III.  Tim is a member of the Public Finance and Government Services Group at McNees.  Frank is a Law Clerk with McNees.  Frank is currently a student at the University of Notre Dame Law School and expects to earn his J.D. in May of 2022.

A bill recently introduced in the General Assembly would impose new requirements on Pennsylvania municipalities for holding governmental meetings. Senate Bill 554, which was recently passed on a unanimous 49-0 vote in the Pennsylvania Senate, would amend the Pennsylvania Sunshine Law to require political subdivisions to make available in advance to the public the proposed agenda for any governmental meeting. Senate Bill 554 now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration, and its strong bipartisan support indicates passage may be likely. Continue Reading Proposed Legislation Would Impose New Requirements on Meetings Held by Pennsylvania Local Governments