Government Affairs Alert Blog

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.






New Jersey’s Legislature Attempts to Override Governor’s Objections to “Equal Pay” Bill

The sponsors of pay equity legislation passed by the New Jersey Senate and Assembly earlier this year have announced that the State Senate will attempt to override Governor Christie’s veto of the bill on December 19, 2016. Senate Bill 992/Assembly Bill 2750 would amend the Law Against Discrimination (“LAD”) to promote gender pay equality. The New Jersey bill follows a trend of recently enacted state laws, in California, New York, Maryland, and Massachusetts, that aim to make it easier for plaintiffs to bring pay equity claims and subject employers to potentially greater damages. The bill would make it an unlawful employment practice, under the LAD, to discriminate against employees on the basis of sex by compensating an employee of one sex at a lesser rate than an employee of the other sex for “substantially similar work.” The “substantially similar” standard, which diverges from the “equal work” standard of the federal Equal Pay Act, mirrors the California Fair Pay Act, which became effective in January 2016. Under the proposed legislation, an employer would be permitted to pay a different rate to an employee if it can show that the positions are not “substantially similar” and the difference in compensation is based on...

Equity Crowdfunding Turns Six Months Old: Looking at Title III for Investors and Businesses

November 16, 2016 marked the six-month anniversary of Title III of the JOBS Act of 2012 being fully implemented. Title III and the rules promulgated by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) allow businesses to raise capital through “equity crowdfunding.” This is the act of raising capital from others via the internet, by seeking small investments from a large number of potential investors through the use of licensed broker-dealers or internet funding portals. These investments are exempt from the traditional security registration requirements. People are generally familiar with existing “crowdfunding” platforms such as Kickstarter, Indiegogo, and GoFundMe which have been in existence since at least 2008. These platforms practice rewards-based crowdfunding.  Backers give a “campaign” money, and the backer gets back a “reward,” i.e., a thank you note or the first edition of a product. Title III, however, allows for “equity crowdfunding,” which is the ability to buy ownership in an early-stage company and hopefully reap a monetary return on that investment. Instead of getting that thank you note or new product, the investor is getting a piece of equity in the company he or she just invested in. Many industry professionals and...

N.J.’s Proposed Changes to Low Income Housing Tax Credit Qualified Allocation Plan Limit Projects per Developer and Encourage Development in Smart Growth Areas

The N.J. Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency (“HMFA”) recently proposed changes to the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (“LIHTC”) Qualified Allocation Plan (“QAP”). State housing credit agencies, like HMFA, are required to create plans which outline the selection criteria for awarding tax credits for the development of low- and moderate-income housing. The proposed amendments update the QAP to reflect procedural changes to the way in which affordable housing is constructed, but also include some substantive changes to both the allocation of tax credits among developers and the scoring system for awarding tax credits. To review the full proposed changes to the QAP, as well as the agency analysis of the impact of these proposals, please click here. Comments on these proposed changes are due no later than December 2, 2016. Allocation of Tax Credits Two changes are proposed regarding the allocation of tax credits to municipalities, and the allocation of funded tax credit projects among developers. Currently, the QAP encourages the equitable distribution of tax credits throughout the State by capping the number of awards per municipality at two per year. HMFA proposes increasing this number to three awards annually for those municipalities that have a population of 100,000 or...

Are New Jersey’s Business Loan, Incentive, and Grant Programs Right for You?

Ronald Reagan famously said that the nine most terrifying words in the English language are, “I’m from the government and I’m here to help.” But for businesses starting up, expanding, or relocating into New Jersey, state government can be helpful, if you know where to start. We regularly counsel clients on government incentives, loans, and business assistance offered through the nationally-recognized New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) and other State agencies. The NJEDA’s programs assist businesses of all sizes access loans/loan guarantees, as well as business and tax incentives. A few of the many programs offered are listed below. Loan Programs The NJEDA offers several loan programs that support small and mid-sized companies acquiring fixed assets, obtaining working capital, and refinancing debt: The Premier Lender Program provides loan and line of credit participations/guarantees in varying amounts. The NJEDA has a group of preferred lenders, and rates are generally at or below traditional loans. In return for the NJEDA’s assistance, the business has to agree to add one new full-time employee for every $65,000 of NJEDA exposure. The Small Business Fund provides up to $500,000 for small businesses, minority or woman owned businesses, and nonprofits that have been in business for...

Sufferers of PTSD Gain Access to Medicinal Marijuana

On September 14, 2016, New Jersey amended its medicinal marijuana law to add post-traumatic stress disorder (‘PTSD’) as a qualifying condition, permitting PTSD sufferers to gain access to this unconventional therapy for the first time. Some background — In 2009, New Jersey became the 14th state to allow access to medicinal marijuana. Over the past seven years, 11 additional states have expanded their laws to allow access to medical marijuana. In New Jersey, the original law provided access to medical marijuana for the following conditions: Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; Multiple sclerosis; Terminal cancer; Muscular dystrophy; Inflammatory bowel disease, including Crohn’s disease; Terminal illness, if the physician has determined a prognosis of less than 12 months of life; Seizure disorder, including epilepsy; Intractable skeletal muscular spasticity; Glaucoma; Positive status for human immunodeficiency virus; Acquired immune deficiency syndrome; and Cancer. Under the amended law signed by Governor Christie, a patient with PTSD would be eligible for medicinal marijuana if she has been unsuccessful alleviating her symptoms with conventional medical therapy. Additionally, the patient would have to obtain certification of her condition from a physician with whom she has a “bona fide physician-patient relationship.” Several other recent developments on this issue merit a brief...

NJ Legislators Look to Prohibit Asking Applicants about Salary History

The New Jersey Legislature is poised to take up another thorny issue for employers, salary history. Described by legislative sponsors as an effort to promote pay equity, the legislation would amend the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination to bar employers from asking job applicants about their salary history, or relying on it to determine salary at any stage in the hiring process. Two separate pieces of legislation have been introduced that prohibit an employer from inquiring about the salary history of an applicant. Assembly Bill 4119 was introduced on September 15, 2016 and referred to the Assembly Labor Committee. Senate Bill 2536 was introduced on September 15, 2016 and referred to the Senate Labor Committee. New Jersey would be the second state to pass pay equity legislation prohibiting asking applicants about salary history. In August 2016, Massachusetts became the first state to pass such an Act. The Massachusetts Act banned employers from inquiring into an applicant’s salary history until “after any offer of employment with compensation has been made to the prospective employee.” The bill introduced to the New Jersey Assembly similarly provides that an employer may “confirm, or permit the prospective employee to confirm, the wage or salary history...

Why and How – Basics of Government Affairs (Part 1 of 2)

“Don’t you know someone in the Governor’s Office?” “You know the Senate President, right?” “That woman we met at that Chamber of Commerce event last month, she is the Chief of Staff to the Assembly Speaker, right?” After a lobbyist hears these words, most times the next sentence goes something like this: “We are having a problem with … and our CEO asked me to see what we can do in order to …” Then the client relates to us the sad tale of a difficult piece of legislation, or regulation, or land use development that will negatively impact the client’s core business. The CEO then asks you to fix the problem and save the day. And more times than not, the final nail in the coffin necessary to sink the client’s business interest in this bill, regulation, or development is being acted upon by the government … in a matter of days. In these types of cases, it is simply too late. Too late to begin to think about a government affairs strategy. The cake has already been baked. These scenarios happen, unfortunately, more frequently than one would think, even among sophisticated businessmen and-women across a myriad of industries....