Petitions for certiorari have been filed with the Supreme Court of the United States regarding two recent rulings of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. In both Aransas Project v. Shaw and In re: Deepwater Horizon, petitions for en banc review were denied, but a significant number of dissents have encouraged the petitioners to seek further review in the Supreme Court.
Seattle's new minimum wage legislation passed by the Seattle City Council and signed into law by Mayor Murray on June 3, 2014 provides for an increase in the minimum wage in the City of Seattle to $15/hr., phased in over time, beginning April 1, 2015. The minimum wage ordinance has a different schedule for increasing the employees' pay based upon the employers' number of employees in the U.S. and whether the employer pays toward its employees' medical benefits plan.
The Franchise Tax Board ("FTB") will begin reviewing California Competes Tax Credit Agreements of all recipient of the credit (except for small businesses) beginning this summer. If FTB determines that credit recipients have failed to achieve the employment and investment milestones set forth in their credit agreements, FTB may recommend that the awarded credits be recaptured. During the course of FTB's review, it may request from credit recipients any information relevant to the credit agreements, and will have access to all of the information submitted in the course of the recipients' application for a credit award. Credit recipients and future credit applicants should be aware that FTB is not prohibited from using any of this information for purposes of an unrelated income or franchise tax audit, and that contesting an FTB recommendation to recapture the credit may present unique procedural challenges.
The Nevada State Contractors Board (NSCB) recently issued an Industry Bulletin reminding all licensed Nevada contractors of their responsibility to include specific information when advertising services. Subdivision (3) of Section 624.720 of the Nevada Revised Statutes requires that "[a]ll advertising by a licensed contractor must include the name of the contractor's company and the number of the contractor's license." In its Industry Bulletin, NSCB confirmed that it frequently monitors a number of print and online media, including Angie's List, Craigslist, online bulletins, local and statewide publications, etc. and that it has begun to see an increase in licensed contractors failing to include their license number in their advertisements.
The U.S. Court of Appeals are encountering and deciding CERCLA (or Superfund) "Arranger Liability" cases in the wake of the Supreme Court's 2009 decision in the case of Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway Co. v. United States, 556 U. S. 559 (2009). Earlier this year, the Fifth Circuit held, in the case of Vine Street LLC v. Borg Warner Corp., that CERCLA's "Arranger Liability" for Superfund cleanup responsibility did not apply to most straightforward business transactions in which an intent to dispose of hazardous waste or hazardous substances in the guise of a business transaction could not be established. On March 20, 2015,a divided panel of the Fourth Circuit reached a similar conclusion in the case of Consolidation Coal Company v. Georgia Power Company, et al. The Court of Appeals affirmed the lower court's ruling that granted summary judgment to Georgia Power Company in a cost recovery case involving the ongoing cleanup of the Ward Transformer Site, located in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Yesterday, Pillsbury attorneys John Jensen and Claire Cavaliero published their client alert titled GSA May Abolish the Price Reduction Clause. The Alert discusses the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) recently issued proposed rule that could abolish the long-standing price reduction clause (PRC) from the GSA Schedule program. GSA is proposing to eliminate the clause and to use, instead, the submission of "transactional data reporting" to help achieve its goal of fair and reasonable pricing on all orders. The rule would require contractors to report transactional data for orders placed against GSA Federal Supply Schedule (FSS) and other GSA contracts. The proposed rule is designed to improve GSA's ability to conduct meaningful price analysis and more efficiently and effectively validate fair and reasonable pricing. It is also intended to reduce the burden on contractors imposed by the current GSA PRC.
On March 13, 2015, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit affirmed the dismissal of a lawsuit seeking recovery of funds from the president of Environmental Careers Organization (ECO), a defunct Massachusetts non-profit company whose business was to place interns with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). ECO received compensation from the EPA for its costs of placing students in agency internships. EPA audited the accounts of ECO and then sought recovery of more than $6 million from it, forcing ECO into bankruptcy.
On March 10, 2015, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit issued an unpublished opinion in Precon Development Corporation, Inc., v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. For several years, Precon has been contesting the Corps' assertion of Clean Water Act (CWA) jurisdiction over Precon's planned commercial and residential development in Chesapeake, Virginia. At issue is the jurisdictional status of 4.8 acres of wetlands that Precon wants to fill in: Is this land subject to the Corps' permitting authority under Section 404 of the CWA because the wetlands are "water of the United States" on the basis of Justice Kennedy's "significant nexus" test, as explicated in the 2006 Supreme Court case of Rapanos v. United States, 547 U.S. __ (2006)?
Without dissent, but with strong concurring opinions, the Supreme Court has decided two cases that could, over time, significantly affect the relationships between the federal government and the regulated community. In the first case, the Court was asked to review the distribution of regulatory powers between Amtrak, which operates many railroad operations, and its rail competitors, resulting from a transportation law enacted in 2008. In enacting this law, the question is whether the Congress illegally delegated some of its regulatory powers to Amtrak. The Court ruled that it did not, but the case was returned to the lower court to decide some important constitutional issues. In the second case, the Court held that federal agencies, when they issue interpretive rulings, are not required to follow the standard notice and comment procedures that govern federal rulemaking, even though these interpretive rulings may have a very important effect on the parties that it regulates. While legal, the practice clearly troubles some of the Justices.
In the fall of 2014, the California Contractors State License Board (CSLB) launched a new forum -- CSLB TV -- for engaging in discussions with contractors about issues and challenges that affect the construction industry. The first event, an interactive webinar on September 19, 2014 titled Doing It Right: HVAC Permits & Title 24 Energy Regulations Webinar, discussed issues and challenges in the HVAC industry related to California Energy Commission Title 24 energy efficiency regulations and the permitting process with local building divisions. Topics for future CSLB TV are being discussed. To submit a webinar topic recommendation, email firstname.lastname@example.org.