The Internal Revenue Service, Tax Exempt & Government Entities Division, has released its Fiscal Year 2019 Program Letter, a copy of which is available here. Among other things, the Program Letter identifies the compliance areas for the tax-exempt bond community that will be a priority for the IRS in the new fiscal year which began on October 1. Continue Reading IRS Announces Tax-Exempt Bonds’ Program Priorities for 2019 Fiscal Year

The Third Circuit Court of Appeals, the appeals court that has jurisdiction over federal cases in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and the U. S. Virgin Islands, recently held that a public employer violates the First Amendment of the United State Constitution when it retaliates against an employee based on the employee’s union membership.  In reaching its conclusion, the Court distinguished between First Amendment “free speech” claims and First Amendment “association” claims.

Continue Reading Court Holds Union Membership ‘Worthy of Constitutional Protection’

On August 20, 2018 the SEC approved amendments to Rule 15c2-12 of the Securities Exchange Act to add two additional disclosure events to written continuing disclosure undertakings required to be obtained by underwriters in primary securities offerings. A copy of the final rule approving the amendments can be accessed here. Continue Reading SEC Approves Amendments to Rule 15c2-12 to Address Bank Loan Disclosure Concerns

Act 33 was enacted and signed into law on June 18, 2018 to provide counties with greater flexibility in combating blight. The new law, which takes effect 60 days after signing, allows a county to designate a redevelopment authority as the land bank for its jurisdiction.

Since 2012, counties have had the ability to establish land banks under the Pennsylvania Land Bank Act. Land banks are independent public entities created to expedite the process of acquiring and rehabilitating blighted, dilapidated and abandoned real estate. They often work together with redevelopment authorities to help eliminate blight in local communities. But while land banks have been crucial in this fight, many Pennsylvania counties have had active redevelopment authorities performing similar functions for over half a century. Continue Reading Law Allows Counties to Designate Redevelopment Authorities as Land Banks

In a prior post we highlighted a recent podcast that McNees real estate attorney Kandice Hull recorded on eminent domain. Interested to know more about this topic? You can find her additional thoughts, including on the Supreme Court’s decision in Kelo v. City of New London, below.

Did you miss part 1 in this series? You can get caught up here. And, be sure to subscribe to our blog – as part 3 is in the works!

What almost every individual, business, and municipality have in common is that they have some sort of insurance coverage, and sooner or later they need to use it.  But if the insurance company won’t hold up its end of the bargain, how does an insured prove that an insurer acted in bad faith?

Although the issue has been well settled since the Superior Court decided Terletsky v. Prudential Property & Casualty Insurance Co. in 1994, there has been much confusion as to whether or not ill motive or ill will is required.  The Pennsylvania Supreme Court, however, recently weighed in, newly confirming the old standard. Continue Reading Rancosky: The (Clarified) Insurance Bad Faith Standard

A recent Commonwealth Court decision affirmed that municipalities within Pennsylvania are not immune from claims of adverse possession.  In City of Philadelphia v. Galdo, 181 A3d. 1289 (Pa. Commw. 2018), the Commonwealth Court held that the City of Philadelphia had lost title to a property that it had previously condemned to an adjacent property owner who adversely possessed the property. Continue Reading Municipalities Can Lose Property Through Adverse Possession

We’ve previously discussed on this blog the importance of continuing disclosure in the municipal bond industry, and the steps municipal issuers should take to ensure they remain in compliance with their obligations in this area. I recently recorded a video podcast on this topic. You can watch it below – or at the following link: https://www.mcneeslaw.com/continuing-disclosure-video/.

Have questions about continuing disclosure? Feel free to contact me or the Firm’s continuing disclosure specialist, Penny Pollick.

Last week the Supreme Court issued its long-awaited opinion in Janus v. AFCSME.  It held that requiring public sector employees to pay fair share fees to unions violates the First Amendment.  A fair share fee (sometimes called an agency fee) is a fee that non-union members must pay to the union to cover the expenses incurred by the union while representing an employee in collective bargaining and related matters.  Fair share fees were often required under state law, despite the employee opting not to join the union, because unions have a legal obligation to represent all employees within the bargaining unit, regardless of whether the employee is a member of the union.  These laws became common after the Supreme Court issued its 1977 opinion Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, which held that fair share fees were constitutional and maintained labor peace by preventing “free riders.”

In recent years, there have been increasing challenges to the constitutionality of fair share fees and the validity of AboodBack in 2014, we discussed the Supreme Court’s ruling in Harris v. Quinn.  The Court in Harris began to question the validity of Abood and its supporting rationale.  As we noted, the Court came close to overruling Abood but ultimately decided Harris on its specific facts.  It held that collection of the fair share fees in the specific context (personal assistants in Illinois) violated the First Amendment.  In 2016, another challenge of fair share fees made it to the Court, only for Justice Scalia to die after oral argument, leaving a 4-4 split decision.

With Justice Gorsuch now on the bench, as was foreshadowed in Harris, the Court ruled that fair share fees violate public sector employees’ right to free speech.  As a basic premise, the Court recognized that the right to free speech includes the right to refrain from speaking at all.  Thus, “[c]ompelling individuals to mouth support for views they find objectionable violates the cardinal constitutional command, and in most contexts, any such effort would be universally condemned.”  Accordingly, forcing employees to pay fair share fees (i.e., compelling employees to speak when they may otherwise remain silent) violates the First Amendment.  Finally, the Court overruled Abood, dissecting and dismantling its labor peace and free rider justifications.

The end result of the Court’s holding is clear: “States and public-sector unions may no longer extract agency fees from nonconsenting employees.  . . . Neither an agency fee nor any other payment to the union may be deducted from a non-member’s wages, nor may any other attempt be made to collect such payment, unless the employee affirmatively consents to pay.”  The Court recognized that the loss of these payments would cause unions to “experience unpleasant transition costs in the short term,” but it did think that such a challenge justified continued constitutional violations.  Rather, it pointed out that such a disadvantage must be weighed against the considerable windfall that unions received in fair share fees in the 41 years after Abood.

Surely there will be questions that follow.  Will unions continue to participate in public sector workforces?  Is there a process for employees who now want to opt out of union membership?  Do public sector employers now negotiate separately with non-union members?  All of these questions may take time to resolve and consultation with legal counsel.

A version of this post previously ran on the McNees Pennsylvania Labor and Employment Blog.

In an eagerly-awaited decision, the United States Supreme Court struck down today the “physical presence” standard in Quill Corp. v. North Dakota, 504 U.S. 298 (1992). Quill had long hamstrung states’ efforts to collect sales and use taxes on purchases by in-state residents of products sold by internet-only retailers. With Quill now history, states are free to impose sales and use tax collection responsibilities on out-of-state retailers who sell predominantly through the internet.

The decision is a major victory for state and local governments, who have argued for years that the growth of the internet marketplace since Quill was decided has cost them billions of dollars in unpaid sales and uses taxes.

Our colleagues in the State and Local Tax practice group discuss the Court’s decision at length in their blog, Adding Value (which you should subscribe to!). You can read their analysis here.