On March 30, 2020, President Donald Trump declared that a major disaster exists in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (the “Commonwealth”) and ordered Federal assistance to supplement Commonwealth and local recovery efforts in the areas affected by the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (“COVID-19”) pandemic beginning on January 20, 2020, and continuing.  This declaration follows Governor Tom Wolf’s

As you have undoubtedly heard, the coronavirus, or COVID-19, has made its way to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.  This influenza-like virus was first identified in Wuhan, China, in December 2019, and has since spread to more than 100 countries, including the United States.

In January 2020, the World Health Organization (the “WHO”) and the Centers

A bill to amend Pennsylvania’s Sunshine Act has passed the House last month and is now awaiting action in the Senate. House Bill 1069, sponsored by Representative Aaron Bernstine, would amend the Sunshine Act to require government agencies, including school boards, county commissioners and local governments, to post agendas 24 hours prior to voting meetings.

In a case that may have implications for any government entity that has an application process related to permit and license issuance, the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania recently issued a decision in P.L.C.B. v. Beh, No. 91 C.D. 2018, No. 153 C.D. 2018 (Pa. Commw. Ct. July 17, 2019), concerning whether residential and financial information contained in liquor license applications must be disclosed to the public.
Continue Reading Commonwealth Court, Citing Right to Privacy, Shields Residency Information from Disclosure Under Right to Know Law

On May 7, 2019, the City of Baltimore discovered that its integral systems were the subject of a ransomware attack, breaching the City’s phone systems, emails, documents and critical operational databases, affecting roughly 10,000 City computers. The City notified the F.B.I. and took offline as many other systems as possible to prevent the spread of the cyberattack, but not before the malicious software locked and encrypted many of the City’s systems. The hackers responsible for the attack demanded thirteen bitcoins (approximately $100,000), as ransom, to release the City’s inaccessible databases and operational tools. In a move intended to disincentive future attacks, Baltimore rejected hackers’ demands and did not pay the ransom.
Continue Reading Ransomware Attacks Targeting Cities and Municipalities

A group of elected officials in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and Senate have reintroduced a series of bills making significant changes to the process by which municipalities in Pennsylvania incur debt. The introduction of these bills has become a biennial occurrence; since the 2013-2014 legislative session, similar bills have been introduced, calling for such changes. None of the prior proposals have been enacted into law.

The bills that have been introduced in the 2019-2020 legislative session primarily consist of two packages – one in the House and one in the Senate. The package of reform proposals in the House can be found at House Bills 882-884. The package of reform proposals in the Senate can be found at Senate Bills 204-210. One proposal was introduced as House Bill 320, and is a standalone measure addressing interest rate swaps. We’ve included in this post links to each bill, so that you can monitor the status of the bills.
Continue Reading Slate of Municipal Debt Reform Proposals Reintroduced in PA House, Senate

On February 19, 2019, a bill was introduced in the Pennsylvania Senate proposing to amend the Pennsylvania Breach of Personal Information Notification Act (the “Act”) to add new breach notification requirements for state agencies and political subdivisions of the Commonwealth.
Continue Reading Senate Bill Proposes New Data Breach Notification Requirements for Pennsylvania State Agencies, Municipalities, and School Districts

On February 12, 2019, Representative Tina Davis introduced a bill proposing to establish a new regulatory commission with oversight over municipal water and wastewater authorities.   H.B. 494 would establish a Municipal Water and Wastewater Authority Oversight Commission (“Authority Commission”).  Representative Davis previously sponsored H.B. 798, which would have amended the Public Utility Code to subject municipal water and wastewater authorities to regulation by the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (“PUC”).  Introduced in 2017, H.B. 798 failed to move out of the Consumer Affairs Committee.
Continue Reading New House Proposal Would Subject Municipal Water, Wastewater Authorities to Additional Oversight