In its recent decision, Appeal of Best Homes DDJ, LLC, 239-40 C.D. 2020 (Dec. 23, 2021), the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court considered, among other issues, whether MS4 fees imposed by the City of Chester Stormwater Authority constituted an impermissible tax. The case involved a challenge by certain rate/fee-payers that the Authority’s “fees” were actually “taxes”
Timothy Horstmann, member of McNees Wallace & Nurick’s Public Finance and Government Services Group, will be discussing the importance of the archival and long-time preservation of electronic documents for Pennsylvania municipalities and townships in an upcoming webinar.
The panel of thought leaders will share tips for how to become PDF/A compliant at little to no cost, important because a Pennsylvania State Archives and Local Government Records Committee policy allows municipalities to maintain electronic records so long as specific requirements are met.
Continue Reading McNees Attorney Providing Key Tips, Resources for Townships’ Preservation of E-Documents
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
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
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 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
This post was authored by Devin Chwastyk and Frank Lavery, II. Devin is the Chair of the Privacy & Data Security 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.
On June 3, 2021, the U.S. Supreme Court issued an important opinion in Van Buren v. United States, which provided important clarification of the scope of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA). The CFAA bars unauthorized access, or access that exceeds authorization, to any computer “used in or affecting interstate or foreign commerce or communication.” As the Supreme Court aptly explains, this extends protection—at a minimum—to all information from computers that connect to the internet. Thus, the implications of the CFAA are far reaching. The decision in Van Buren explored what constitutes “unauthorized access” and “access that exceeds authorization.”…
Continue Reading U.S. Supreme Court Emphasizes Need to Couple IT Safeguards with Written Policies to Safeguard Confidential Data
Is your county, municipality, or municipal authority using a .com, .org, .info, or other domain name other than .gov for email and websites? If so, now is as good a time as any to switch to using the .gov domain.
Recently, the Federal Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) announced that it had successfully taken…
Recent legislation passed by the Pennsylvania General Assembly offers a new short short-term borrowing option to local governments and school districts dealing with budget uncertainties related to the ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic. House Bill 2536 was signed into law by Governor Tom Wolf on November 23, 2020, as Act 114 of 2020. Among other things, Act 114 created a special, limited emergency tax and revenue anticipation note program for the 2021 calendar year. The new program will provide greater financial flexibility to local governments and school districts as they await the results of tax collections in the coming months.
Continue Reading Short-Term Borrowing for Local Governments, School Districts in COVID Uncertainty