Government & Regulatory Affairs Alert Blog

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

For the twelfth year in a row, Gibbons P.C. has been ranked the #1 lawyer-lobbying firm in New Jersey, according to the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission (NJ ELEC), which has just released its report on 2019 lobbying expenditures in the state. Gibbons has also ranked sixth in the state among all lobbying firms. “The firm’s growing presence and influence in both the state’s capital and the nation’s capital ultimately stem from loyal clients who have turned to Gibbons for over a decade as their ‘go to’ firm for navigating the governmental process and resolving legislative and regulatory issues that impact their bottom lines,” says Patrick C. Dunican Jr., Chairman and Managing Director of Gibbons. Based just steps from the New Jersey State House in Trenton and supported by additional resources from the firm’s Newark and Red Bank offices, the Gibbons Government & Regulatory Affairs Department offers a broad range of services and experience in state legislative affairs, regulatory affairs and departmental actions, administrative law, business incentives, government procurement and contracting, and political and campaign finance compliance. In addition, the firm’s Washington, DC office provides Gibbons lawyer-lobbyists a base from which to more efficiently handle federal regulatory concerns and...

Gibbons Government & Regulatory Affairs Department Director Christine Stearns Featured on ROI-NJ’s Third Annual “Influencers Power List”

ROI-NJ, a weekly newspaper covering business in New Jersey, has named Christine A. Stearns, a Director in the Gibbons P.C. Government & Regulatory Affairs Department and Administrative Director of the Trenton office, to its third annual “Influencers Power List” of the professionals with the greatest influence on business in the state. The list ranks New Jersey’s top 30 influencers by number, then features a select group of influential professionals in various fields. Gibbons attorneys have been featured on this list every year it has been published. The firm also has more attorneys on the 2020 list than does any other law firm in New Jersey. Ms. Stearns appears on the list of most influential “Government Affairs” professionals for the second consecutive year. Previously selected to the NJBIZ “Health Care Power List” for several years and included on NJ Spotlight’s list of “Top 10 Healthcare Lobbyists in New Jersey,” Ms. Stearns has also been named a “Top Policy Expert” on the ROI-NJ “Health Care Influencers” list in 2018 and 2019. On this year’s “Influencers Power List,” ROI-NJ notes: Yet another big name with plenty of experience in Trenton and government affairs, she deftly handles the needs of clients at Gibbons, one...

Governor Murphy Proposes the Fiscal Year 2021 Budget

Governor Phil Murphy presented the outline of his spending plan for Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 to the State Legislature on February 25, 2020. The FY 2021 Budget proposes total revenues exceeding $42.7 billion (a 4.3 percent increase from FY 2020), and $40.8 billion in total appropriations (a 2.2 percent increase from FY 2020). An additional $1.6 billion is dedicated for surplus and $300 million is directed into the State’s “rainy day” fund. If enacted as proposed, this would be the largest budget in New Jersey history. One of the biggest expenses is the annual payment to the State’s pension system; a proposed total of $4.9 billion for FY 2021. If funded at this level by the Legislature, the contribution to state pension system would consume 12 percent of all state appropriations. This contribution is still only about 80 percent of what is actuarially required. Additional priorities for the Governor include increases to the state education funding formula by $336 million; another $132 million for NJ Transit; creating the Garden State Guarantee to provide two years of tuition free higher education; funding for lead service line replacements; and expanding eligibility for the Earned Income Tax Credit Program and the Pharmaceutical Assistance...

NJEDA Steps Up With Funding for Approved Accelerators and Their Qualifying Cohorts With Exciting New $2.5 Million “NJ Accelerate” Program

On February 11, 2020, the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (“NJEDA”) approved a $2,500,000 pilot program labeled NJ Accelerate (“NJ Accelerate”). The NJEDA expects to attract more accelerator and start-up activities to the State by encouraging the increased participation of New Jersey based entrepreneurs in accelerator programs that provide specialized expertise, mentorship, and technical assistance. The NJ Accelerate program will be organized in a two-step process: (1) accelerator operators will be pre-qualified (“Approved Accelerators”) and, (2) financial assistance will be provided from the NJEDA to domestic New Jersey early-stage companies that complete a program at an Approved Accelerator. With a $2,500,000 pilot program budget, the NJEDA anticipates that approximately 10-15 companies will be supported in the NJ Accelerate pilot program in addition to the support and engagement of at least five Approved Accelerators. Domestic companies from an approved accelerator and meeting certain requirements are eligible to receive direct loan support from the NJEDA up to $250,000 in the form of a 10 year convertible promissory note and will be in the same amount of investment dollars funded into the start-up by the Approved Accelerator. There will be no repayment obligation for the first seven years. Domestic companies are also eligible...

Highlights from the Swearing-In of the 219th Legislature and Governor’s State of the State Address

The 219th Session of the New Jersey Legislature started on January 14, 2020 with the reorganization of the Legislature and the Governor’s State of the State Address. Legislative Reorganization The General Assembly welcomed seven new members, with Democrats still retaining a significant 52-28 majority. Speaker Craig Coughlin (D-19) retained his post for another two-year term, as did Majority Leader Louis Greenwald (D-6) and Minority Leader John Bramnick (R-21). The State Senate is also controlled by the Democratic Party with a 25-15 majority. Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-3) became the longest-serving Senate President in New Jersey history, starting his sixth term as leader of the Senate. Senator Tom Kean (R-21) returns as Senate Minority Leader for another term. In their respective speeches, legislative leaders struck similar messages of unity, compromise, and improving the quality of life for all residents. Senate President Sweeney focused on school funding, higher education, water quality, and the need for improvements to New Jersey Transit. Speaker Coughlin and Majority Leader Greenwald highlighted their priorities which included water quality, as well as tax reform and affordability, behavioral health, and food insecurity. Assembly Republican Leader Bramnick took a different approach and specifically addressed cooperation, and condemned hate and violence...

Governor Murphy Signs Executive Order Addressing Climate Change Resiliency for New Jersey

As storms like Superstorm Sandy continue to grow more devastating and frequent, communities, governments, businesses, and industries of all sizes and varieties must face the challenge of adapting to a changing climate. October 29, 2019 marked the seventh anniversary of Sandy hitting New Jersey. Governor Murphy marked this occasion by signing Executive Order 89, which calls on the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to establish a Statewide Climate Change Resilience Strategy, among other initiatives related to climate change adaptation. “New Jersey is extremely vulnerable to the impacts of sea-level rise and global warming, and [this] Executive Order outlines a bold and comprehensive set of actions to ensure that our communities and infrastructure are more resilient against future storms,” said Government Murphy about the signing. The preamble to the Executive Order notes that New Jersey is especially vulnerable to the impacts of climate change as a coastal state. Picking up on this administration’s Environmental Justice efforts, the Order acknowledges that minority and low-income communities are disproportionately affected by the impacts of climate change. Climate change of course is an issue that also impacts all communities, including the business community, industry, and government. The preamble also notes that “studies show that each...

2019 Election Results Bring Little Change to State Legislature

Democrats billed the 2019 elections as a referendum on President Trump. Republicans dubbed the off-year contests as the “Murphy Mid-Term” and a chance to stall Democratic attempts to build on the “blue wave” of 2018. Who was right? It looks like both sides can declare victory. With the 80 seats of New Jersey General Assembly up for election, along with a Special Election for the Senate seat in the First Legislative District (Cumberland, Cape May and Atlantic Counties), the election returns produced mostly a status quo result. Democrats will continue to control both the General Assembly and State Senate, but with majorities slightly smaller than in the past session. All three Democratic incumbents in the First Legislative District lost to their respective Republican challengers. The race for the two Assembly seats in the Second Legislative District was extremely close, but it appears the Democratic incumbents will be victorious. Even with the loss in the First Legislative District, Democrats still retain a wide majority in the Assembly (52-28) and the Senate (25-15). Republican incumbents were able to hang onto victory in District 8 (Burlington County), District 21 (Morris, Somerset, and Union Counties), and District 25 (Morris and Somerset), where Democrats ran...

Budget Matters, Incentives, and Cannabis Will Be This Summer’s Hot Topics in Trenton

The Summer is here and the halls of the Legislature are quiet, but three topics that controlled much of the debate in Trenton this year are expected to drag into the Fall: the state budget, economic incentives, and cannabis. Fiscal Year 2020 Governor Murphy signed the Fiscal Year 2020 budget on June 30, avoiding a government shutdown, but not ending the debate on taxes and spending. After the Legislature sent the Governor a budget that did not include a millionaire’s tax, corporate responsibility fee, and tax on opioid manufacturers, the Governor line-item vetoed several appropriations and signed an Executive Order authorizing the State Treasury to place in reserve approximately $235 million in state appropriations. In 2016,Governor Christie took similar action when his Administration froze approximately $100 million in spending as the state health benefit plan design committees considered cost reductions. Prior to the July 4th holiday, the Murphy Administration announced the full list of spending items placed in reserve. The funds will only be released after the Treasurer certifies that certain revenue objectives are met, meaning this issue will linger for several months. Economic Incentives Also on June 30, the State’s two main economic incentive programs, the Grow NJ Assistance...

NJ Department of Health Issues Alternative Treatment Center Request for Applications

The New Jersey Department of Health issued a Request for Applications today that would license up to 108 Alternative Treatment Centers (ATCs) for the cultivation, manufacturing, and dispensing of medical marijuana. Unlike the currently licensed ATCs, this call for applications does not require a licensee to be vertically integrated. The Department will, instead, issue endorsements for the various functions: cultivation, manufacturing, and dispensary. In total, the Department will seek up to 24 cultivation endorsements, up to 30 manufacturing endorsements, and up to 54 dispensary endorsements. Licenses will still be issued regionally, with up to 38 licenses available in the northern and central region, and 32 licenses in the southern region. The number of endorsements by region is as follows: Northern Region Cultivation endorsements: 8 Manufacturing endorsements: 10 Dispensary endorsements: 20 Central Region Cultivation endorsements: 8 Manufacturing endorsements: 10 Dispensary endorsements: 20 Southern Region Cultivation endorsements: 8 Manufacturing endorsements: 10 Dispensary endorsements: 14 Applications will become available on July 1, 2019 and will be due on August 15, 2019. A pre-submission webinar will be hosted by the Department on July 16, 2019. Please contact us should you have any questions about the endorsement and application process.

Opportunity Zone Update – IRS Releases Second Set of Proposed Regulations

On April 17, 2019, the Internal Revenue Service released the second set of Qualified Opportunity Zone (“QOZ”) proposed regulations (the “New Regulations”). The New Regulations address multiple issues relating to the structuring and operation of qualified opportunity zone funds (“QOFs”) and provide clarity on areas that include: Meeting the original use test for purchased tangible property Safe harbors for leased tangible property to qualify as QOZ business property Related party rules for leased tangible property and tangible personal property Investment vs. active business use of QOZ land Safe harbors to meet the 50% gross income test for the active conduct of a QOZ business Inclusion events for otherwise deferred capital gains Definitions for the term “substantially all” used in several statutory provisions Special elections when QOF partnerships and S corporations dispose of property after 10 years QOF reinvestment of the proceeds from the distribution, sale, or disposition of QOZ property Application of the 90% asset test to newly contributed QOF assets The New Regulations provide answers to many unresolved questions and present needed definitions where uncertainties were impeding investment into QOZs, particularly with respect to QOZ businesses. Our new article discusses many of the details.