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New Jersey Legislature Considers Corporate and Business Law Reforms

A series of bills that would reform the New Jersey Business Corporation Act (“NJBCA”) are slowly churning their way through the New Jersey State Legislature. The pending legislation is modeled upon provisions of the “Delaware Business Corporation Law” and the recommendations of the “New Jersey Corporate and Business Law Study Commission.” In sum, the proposed revisions would generally benefit corporate boards of directors and modernize provisions of the NJBCA. Inspections of Corporate Books and Records Assembly Bill 2975 (Pinkin)/Senate Bill 2238 (Diegnan) modifies the NJBCA to allow corporations to impose reasonable limitations or conditions on the use or distribution of requested corporate books and records. While the bill does not define such “limitations and conditions,” the legislative statement accompanying A-2975/S-2238 provides an example of conditioning the receipt of requested materials on the demanding shareholder agreeing to customary confidentiality obligations. The bill preserves the ultimate authority of a court to decide and order relief in actions brought by shareholders for inspection of materials. On January 23, 2017, A-2975 passed the General Assembly by a vote of 69-0. On June 19, 2017, S-2238 passed the Senate Commerce Committee by a vote of 4-0. This bill is now awaiting a vote in the full...

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...

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...

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....

New Jersey Moves Forward with Attempts to Regulate E-Cigarettes

On May 16, the New Jersey Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee heard more than three hours of testimony from a variety of groups on a bill — S.298, introduced by Senator Joe Vitale — that would prohibit the sale of flavored electronic cigarettes. New Jersey banned the sale of flavored traditional cigarettes in 2008 because of concerns regarding their attractiveness to children. The sponsor believes that the same concerns apply to electronic cigarettes today, making this legislation necessary to create uniformity in the state’s public health laws, all of which are designed to keep children from starting a smoking habit. Opponents contend that this bill would reduce adults’ access to a product that has enabled many tobacco-addicted people to quit smoking. According to NCSL, 48 states and two territories currently prohibit sales of electronic cigarette products to minors. (Michigan and Pennsylvania still permit the sale of electronic cigarette products to minors.) In 2010, New Jersey was one of the first states to include electronic cigarettes among other tobacco items that would not be sold to minors when it expanded the New Jersey Smoke-Free Air Act. S.298 was released from committee by a vote of 6-2 and now...

Attorney-Client Protections Do Not Extend to Lawyers Providing Government Affairs Counseling in Non-Law Firm Settings

A December 10, 2015, joint decision from the Advisory Committee on Professional Ethics and the Committee on the Unauthorized Practice of Law (‘Committees’) provides clarity to lawyer-lobbyists working in non-law firm settings. Both Committees examined this issue after receiving an inquiry whether an attorney representing clients at a lobbying and government affairs services company that is not a law firm may use the designation “Esq.” after her name on company letterhead. The decision concludes that a lawyer may “associate with non-lawyers in lobbying and government affairs services companies, outside a law firm, provided the company communicates to their customers that they do not provide legal services or offer the protections of a lawyer-client relationship and the lawyers do not hold themselves out as acting in the capacity of lawyers.” The decision also directs attorneys, working in a non-legal setting, to not use the “Esquire” or “Esq.” designation. As part of its analysis, the Committee on the Unauthorized Practice of Law determined that many of the activities associated with lobbying are the practice of law, but also determined that it is in the public interest to allow registered non-lawyers to provide these services as well. They felt that “potential harm was...