Government Affairs Alert Blog

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With the 2017 Primary Over, It’s Murphy versus Guadagno for Governor

On Tuesday, June 6, 2017, New Jersey voters went to the polls to select their party’s nominees for Governor and all 120 seats in the Legislature. After a 2016 election cycle full of surprises, New Jersey’s 2017 primary resulted in wins for the gubernatorial front-runners, Democrat Phil Murphy and Republican Kim Guadagno. Those legislative districts with contested primaries also resulted in no major upsets and saw the expected candidates emerge with victories. Governor’s Race Former Ambassador Phil Murphy won the Democratic primary with 48 percent of the vote (241,353). His next closest competitor, former U.S. Treasury official Jim Johnson, garnered 22 percent (109,260), followed by Assemblyman John Wisniewski who also received 22 percent (107,872). Senator Raymond Lesniak came in fourth with 5 percent (24,136). Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno won the Republican primary with 47 percent of the vote (113,404). Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli tallied 31 percent (75,275). In both contests, turnout was low. About one-quarter of Democratic voters, and only 20 percent of Republicans, participated in the primary. With New Jersey and Virginia being only states to hold a gubernatorial election in 2017, national groups are expected to make these two elections a referendum on President Trump and his agenda. Legislative...

Federal Tax Reform and the Potential Repeal of the Cash Method of Accounting

In the wake of the introduction by President Trump of his Tax Reform proposal on April 26, 2017, Congress, especially the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Ways and Means, will be considering various methods to fund tax rate reductions. The White House formally delivered the President’s proposed budget to Congress on May 23, 2017. One proposal likely to be under consideration is the repeal of the cash method of tax accounting for service businesses, though many experts dispute whether many of the budget’s finer details will ever pass both houses of Congress. Under current law, the cash method of accounting cannot be used for income tax purposes by (i) businesses that sell goods and therefore must keep inventories, and (ii) C corporations with average annual gross receipts of $5,000,000 or more. A taxpayer-favorable exception from the C corporation rule is available for qualified personal service corporations, consisting of personal service corporations (PSCs) in the fields of health, law, engineering, architecture, accounting, actuarial science, performing arts, or consulting, when at least 95% of the stock of such PSCs is owned directly or indirectly by employees performing services in one of such fields. To oversimplify things, this means that law firms...

21st Century Cures Act Lands in Federal Budget Blueprint

President Trump’s proposed FY 2018 Budget (a/k/a the “skinny budget”) presented a departure from his predecessor’s proposed annual budgets – namely a $54 billion increase in defense and military spending paired with corresponding cuts to virtually every other federal department. But one area President Trump did not cut was the implementation of the 21st Century Cures Act (the “Cures Act”), which also happens to be one of the last bills signed into law by then-President Obama. The FY 2018 budget blueprint proposes to appropriate $1.1 billion towards the Cures Act’s implementation in the upcoming fiscal year. The Cures Act strives to expedite the discovery, development, and delivery of new treatments and cures. Those in the medical, biotechnology, and pharmaceutical industry should look to the Cures Act as the potential game-changer that the bipartisan sponsors of the law hoped it would be. Not only does the Cures Act provide the National Institute of Health with significant new funds to speed up research into diseases like cancer and Alzheimer’s, but it also attempts to speed up the process by which new treatments are reviewed and approved by the FDA. The Cures Act also focuses on changes to the treatment of mental health and...

NJ Legislative Budget Committees Receive Fiscal Updates

The Legislature received testimony regarding State revenues earlier this week. In separate appearances before the Assembly Budget Committee and the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee, the State Treasurer and the Office of Legislative Services (OLS) testified regarding the revenue picture for the current fiscal year (FY 2017), and the anticipated revenues for the upcoming fiscal year (FY 2018). The OLS reported to the Committees that incoming revenues for FY 2017 are currently forecasted to be $228 million less than expected. However, the 2016 financial market rally and estimated tax payments by high-income earners suggest that FY 2017 revenues could push closer to the originally forecasted amounts. A more accurate revenue forecast will be available in May, after the April tax filing deadline passes. For FY 2018, both the Executive Branch and the OLS have similar projections for growth in the upcoming fiscal year. The Executive Branch anticipating growth that is only 0.6 percent higher than the OLS. While a small percentage amount, this still results in a difference of $212.9 million between the Executive Branch and OLS revenue estimates. The OLS Tax and Revenue Outlook can be accessed here. The State Treasurer’s testimony to the Assembly and Senate Budget Committees...

Governor Christie Presents the FY 2018 Budget

Earlier this week, Governor Christie announced his final State Budget to a joint session of the Legislature. The Governor’s Fiscal Year 2018 budget of $35.5 billion represents a 2.6 percent increase from the prior year. It assumes annual growth in the State’s major tax revenues (gross income tax, sales tax, and corporate business tax) and also reallocates funding between programs. The highlights of the FY 2018 Budget include: $17.4 billion in school and local aid, representing almost half of all State spending; A $2.5 billion contribution to the State pension system, with payments occurring quarterly; Cuts to most Executive Departments including Agriculture, Community Affairs, Corrections, Environmental Protection, Labor, Law and Public Safety, Military and Veterans Affairs, Transportation, and Treasury; Funding increases to the Departments of Health and Human Services for the expansion of FamilyCare, opioid addiction treatment, and graduate medical education; $20 million appropriation for lead remediation assistance for low and moderate income households; Additional State health benefit reforms, saving the State $125 million in FY 2018; and A lump-sum contribution from the State Lottery system to the State’s pension system to reduce the existing unfunded liability. Governor Christie also proposed a supplemental appropriation in the current fiscal year of...

Gibbons Ranked New Jersey’s Top Lawyer-Lobbying Firm for Ninth Consecutive Year

For the ninth year in a row, Gibbons P.C. has been ranked as the #1 lawyer-lobbying firm in New Jersey, according to the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission, which has just released its report on 2016 lobbying expenditures in the state. Gibbons has also ranked sixth in the state among all lobbying firms. David J. Pascrell and Kevin G. Walsh serve as Co-Chairs of the Gibbons Government Affairs Department. “Our lawyer-lobbyists are focused on helping clients to achieve their business objectives,” said Patrick C. Dunican Jr., Chairman and Managing Director of Gibbons. “We congratulate the Gibbons Government Affairs Department on being recognized once again.”






New Jersey Legislature Focuses on Drone Technology

The First Legislative District Economic Development Task Force (“Task Force”) will meet on February 23, 2017, to discuss unmanned aviation technology and the potential impact it could have on the Southern New Jersey region. The Task Force, established by the New Jersey Senate in 2014 and reauthorized in 2016, was charged with “identifying methods, policies, regulations, incentives, and tools to foster economic activity and create jobs in Atlantic, Cape May, and Cumberland counties.” To accomplish its work, the 11-member Task Force is composed of a broad cross-section of thought leaders from the political, educational, and economic spheres. Over the last three years, the Task Force has met multiple times and has studied several issues of importance to the region. It has also studied aquaculture development and educational initiatives to develop a more skillful workforce. Throughout their deliberations, the members of the Task Force have identified actions that will grow the workforce and position the region to attract and support innovation. As the home of the William J. Hughes Technical Center and Stockton University, Southern New Jersey is known for aviation innovation. The testimony received by the Task Force on February 23rd will highlight the potential assets of the region. This...

What You Need to Know About Federal Regulatory Reform

President Trump and the newly-elected Congress have made regulatory reform a main focus of their policy agenda. With Republicans controlling both the White House and Capitol Hill for the first time in over a decade, significant actions were taken within the first several weeks of coming into power that regulated industries should be aware of. Implementation of a Regulatory Freeze – The Trump Administration froze all federal rulemaking by issuing a policy memorandum to the Executive Branch departments and agencies. The memorandum declared that no regulations should be submitted “until a department or agency head appointed or designated by the President … reviews and approves the regulation.” The memorandum also required the Executive Branch agencies to either withdraw or postpone all agency regulations submitted to the Office of the Federal Register. The only exceptions to the regulatory freeze are for “emergency situations or other urgent circumstances relating to health, safety, financial, or national security matters” or “regulations subject to statutory or judicial deadlines.” Reducing Regulations for Domestic Manufacturing – President Trump directed the Executive Branch departments and agencies to support the expansion of manufacturing in the United States through “expedited reviews of and approvals for proposals to construct or expand...

Governor Christie Delivers 2017 State of the State Address

On January 10, 2017, Governor Chris Christie delivered his State of the State address to a joint session of the New Jersey Legislature. The Governor concentrated his remarks on his accomplishments over the past seven years, and his goals for the final year of his Administration. The Governor noted that during his tenure, the State saw seven consecutive years of job creation, decreasing the unemployment rate from 9.8% to 5.0%. The collective size of State, county, and local government was reduced by 31,000 employees and Discretionary State spending is $2.3 billion less today than it was nine years ago. The State contributed $6.3 billion to the State pension system since the Governor took office, double the amount that has been contributed over the past sixteen years. Governor Christie also stated that 2017 will be the first year since 1996 that New Jersey residents will see broad-based tax cuts, including a reduction in the sales tax, the phase-out of the estate tax, increases in retirement income tax exclusions, and increases in the earned income tax credit.