Counsel Rebecca Moll Freed of the firm’s Corporate Political Activity Law Practice Group has published an article in the Spring 2014 issue of NJ Bankers Magazine; entitled “Top Ten Steps to Fast Track Your Bank’s Political Activity Compliance Plan,” the piece explains how banks, which are subject to the regulated industry ban, and their majority shareholders are prohibited from making political contributions. Ms. Freed advises banks that it is important to develop and enforce a clear and effective compliance policy in order to prevent reputational risk, loss of government contracting opportunities, and potential violations. For the full article, click here.
Partner Eugene T. Paolino secured on behalf of firm client KABR/Kushner the unanimous approval by the Jersey City Municipal Council of a tax abatement for a 50 story, 447 unit residential building on the waterfront of Jersey City. The Jersey Journal reported that the tower is designed to have 447 units, including retail, and would share the Trump Tower parking deck but add 144 spaces to it. The project is expected to create 400-500 full time construction jobs and 35-40 full time positions in retail, leasing, maintenance, staffing and other related personnel.
NJ.com reports that the Jersey City Planning Board has voted unanimously to recommend to the Municipal Council amendments to the McGinley Square East Redevelopment Plan in order to allow Sora Development in partnership with Saint Peter’s University to build a unique 21 story building and to include a park in the Plan. Firm Partner Eugene T. Paolino , who serves as counsel to Sora Development with respect to the Partnership as well as General Counsel for the University, represented the partnership before the Planning Board.
The project proposes 45,000 square feet of retail space which is expected to include a grand lobby for a 13-screen cinema on the first and second floors, a supermarket, a bank, restaurants and other retail stores with the floors above the base. housing apartments (including 150 units of student housing), two penthouse restaurants and a rooftop swimming pool. The Plan was also amended to include a public park at the intersection of Montgomery Street and Bergen Avenue with a lawn, fountain in summer, and ice skating rink in the winter.
In 2011, the area around the intersection of Bergen Avenue and Montgomery Street was determined to be in need of redevelopment or rehabilitation. A Saint Peter’s spokesperson called the new project “transformational…the anchor of the redevelopment.”
The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in McCutcheon vs FEC striking down aggregate limits on donations to political parties and candidates casts doubt on the constitutionality of similar caps under local pay-to-play ordinances in New Jersey, and may provide ammunition for government contractors and others to challenge the laws. Law 360’s Martin Bricketto interviewed Partner Laurence D. Laufer and Counsel Rebecca Moll Freed of the form’s Corporate Political Activity Law Practice Group on the potential impact of the decision on local laws in the Garden State.
“New Jersey’s statewide campaign finance laws don’t set aggregate limits on what contributors can give over a particular period of time to different candidates or parties, but many local pay-to-play laws across the state — which are intended to hinder the influence of campaign cash on government work — impose such restrictions on business entities seeking public contracts, according to Rebecca Moll Freed of Genova Burns LLC… There are key differences between those caps and those that the Supreme Court sunk in its 5-4 decision —but the ruling may still strengthen constitutional arguments against the state rules, Freed said.”
The article continued, “ The fact that the laws’ aggregate limits only apply in the context of government contracting is indeed a key distinction compared to the caps at issue in McCutcheon, according to Genova Burns partner Laurence Laufer…. And while the federal limits applied to a single contributor, the pay-to-play laws are more stringent in their scope because they rope in contributors that may be affiliated with one another through a business entity and subject them to the same aggregate caps, according to Laufer….. ‘Aggregate limits as a general principle are now on shakier ground than they were.”
Today the Supreme Court of the United States issued its decision in McCutcheon v. FEC. The decision, which was 5-4 and authored by Chief Justice Roberts, struck down the aggregate limits under the Federal Election Campaign Act. Specifically, the Court found that 2 U.S.C. section 441a(a)(3)(A), which limits individual contributions to federal candidates and party committees over the course of a two-year election cycle (i.e. the biennial limit) was unconstitutional because “aggregate limits do little, if anything, to address [the permissible objective of combatting corruption], while seriously restricting participation in the democratic process.” Justices Scalia, Kennedy and Alito joined in the majority opinion. Justice Breyer authored the dissent. Justice Thomas authored a concurrence.
Currently, eight states impose comparable aggregate contribution limits on a single contributor’s contributions to multiple recipients during a specified time period. All of these limits are now vulnerable to challenge under the Court’s decision, though with the Court’s suggestions for reform, there is much room for debate. As previously discussed on the firm’s Corporate Political Activity Law Blog, the Court’s decision may have an impact in New Jersey and certainly will in New York.
Comments by Partner Laurence D. Laufer were included in Crains New York’s analysis of the opinion. “In New York, there’s also a law preventing such “earmarking” of campaign funds, according to Mr. Laufer. That means anyone who filed a lawsuit seeking to overturn New York’s $150,000 limit would have a strong case based on the Supreme Court opinion.”
Remarks by the firm’s Managing Partner Brian W. Kronick were included in a national press story by the Associated Press on the effects of new paid sick leave laws entitled “So What? Small Business Unfazed by Paid Sick Time.” The article noted that preliminary research shows the paid sick time laws like those recently enacted in cities like New York and Jersey City have little, if any, downside for profits. Mr. Kronick discussed the challenge of calculating accruals for workers at the firms’ various offices who might work in different municipalities with differing laws. The story was picked up by media outlets across the country from Philadelphia to Seattle
Partner Laurence D. Laufer, Director of the firms’ Corporate Political Activity Law and Non-Profit & Tax Exempt Organizations Practice Groups, is quoted twice in an extensive analysis by City & State of the role of the Campaign Finance Board in New York City
Reporter Nick Powell writes, “Many reformers would like to see a statewide system based on the one New York City has with the Campaign Finance Board, although campaign finance experts and advocates are decidedly split on whether the CFB model can be expanded on a macro level.” Mr. Laufer comments, “It’s so much more complicated on the state level, because you have competitive primaries and generals, you have two viable political parties, a two-year election cycle, 213 [legislative] seats as opposed to 59 … The smart thing to do is to create a core program, administer it and work the bugs out, but no one’s talking in ‘phase-in terms,’ which is the obvious compromise.”
Before joining the firm, from 1988 to 2000, Mr. Laufer served as Counsel to the Executive Director and as General Counsel of the New York City Campaign Finance Board.
Brett Pugach, an Associate in the firm’s Labor Law Practice Group, has published an article in the trade magazine Camp Business. Entitled “Facebook Friends,” the piece outlines the importance of social media for camps for the purposes of fundraising and recruiting, in addition to the potential liabilities associated with social media in the forms of cyberbullying and inappropriate photos or comments. Mr. Pugach advises that each camp should develop a rational social media policy which fits its individual character and needs, balancing the important rewards of social media with the legal and practical risks. The full article may be found on pages 70-73 at this link (Article courtesy of Camp Business magazine).
The firm’s Managing Partner Brian W. Kronick, who is also a member of the firm’s Labor Law Practice Group and who serves as labor counsel to the New Jersey League of Municipalities, was quoted in the Bergen Record on March 13, in an article about the full time employee of the Bergen County Executive who is also employed by several other municipalities. Mr. Kronick said, “Government entities should have policies that document the work arrangement and a monitoring mechanism, like a time sheet, to make sure the employee is doing what he is supposed to be doing and putting in the required hours… At the end of day, is the work that’s asked to be done getting done, and is there a supervisor and a monitoring of it?”
Beginning on May 29, 2014, all private sector employers must provide paid sick time to their employees who work in Newark, including part-time and temporary employees who work at least 80 hours in a calendar year, subject to the few exceptions described below. The following summarizes the answers to the most commonly asked questions we have received regarding the Ordinance.
How Much Sick Time Must I Provide To My Employees under the Ordinance?
Employers with 10 or more employees working in Newark must provide up to 40 hours of paid sick time each year to each Newark employee, including a part-time and temporary employee who works at least 80 hours in a year. Employers with fewer than 10 employees working in Newark must provide up to 24 hours of paid sick time to a Newark employee, including a part-time or temporary employee who works at least 80 hours in a year.
Persons employed as child care workers, home health care workers or food service workers can accrue up to 40 hours of paid sick time in a calendar year, regardless of how many employees the employer has in Newark.
At What Rate Does An Employee Accrue Sick Time?
Under the Ordinance, an employee accrues one hour of sick time for every 30 hours worked beginning on the first day of employment. However, an employee may not use sick time until after completing 90 days of employment. Beginning on the 91st day of employment, an employee may use only the sick time he or she has accrued; however an employer has the discretion to allow employees to use sick time prior to accrual.
When Can My Employees Start Using Accrued Sick Time?
An employee who works in Newark and has already worked for the employer for at least 90 days begins to accrue sick time on May 29, 2014. Upon an employee’s request, an employee may use accrued sick time for one of the following events: the employee’s health care, the care of a family member who either has a health condition, requires a diagnosis or preventive care for an illness, or is jeopardizing the health of others as a result of exposure to a communicable disease, the closure of the employee’s place of business due to a public health emergency, or the care of the employee’s child whose school or place of care is closed due to a public health emergency.
Full article: Newark Passes Paid Sick Time Ordinance
How Can I Make Sure That I Am In Compliance?
The attorneys at Genova Burns are available to assist employers in their compliance efforts, including reviewing and revising current policies providing for paid sick leave to ensure that they satisfy Newark’s requirements and employers are not committing to more paid sick time than is legally required. For more information on the new Ordinance, or for information on paid sick time laws in other jurisdictions, please contact Patrick W. McGovern, firstname.lastname@example.org, or Rebecca Fink, email@example.com, in the firm’s Labor Group.