September 29, 2016 •

California Bill Affecting State Contracts Signed into Law

Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law a bill requiring persons submitting bids or proposals of $100,000 or more to state agencies to certify they are in compliance with the Unruh Civil Rights Act and the California Fair Employment and Housing […]

CaliforniaGov. Jerry Brown signed into law a bill requiring persons submitting bids or proposals of $100,000 or more to state agencies to certify they are in compliance with the Unruh Civil Rights Act and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act.

The law is aimed at preventing state agencies from contracting with businesses that boycott Israel.

This law becomes effective January 1, 2017.

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March 8, 2016 •

New Jersey ELEC Expands Pay-to-Play Reporting Requirements for Business Entities Filing Form BE

New Jersey law requires every business receiving $50,000 in government contracts in a calendar year to file a Business Entity Annual Statement (Form BE) with the Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC) by March 30 of the following year. ELEC recently […]

New Jersey state sealNew Jersey law requires every business receiving $50,000 in government contracts in a calendar year to file a Business Entity Annual Statement (Form BE) with the Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC) by March 30 of the following year. ELEC recently amended Form BE to require filers to certify the statements on the form as accurate, to acknowledge penalties for willfully filing a false statement, and to identify whether each contract was awarded pursuant to a fair and open process.

Businesses completing Form BE for 2015 can expect to spend more time filing, as determining if a contract was awarded pursuant to a fair and open process may not be as simple as it sounds. The term may be defined differently at the state, county, and municipal levels, and some long-term contracts to be listed on the form may have been awarded years ago.

The fair and open certification is just another addition to New Jersey’s notoriously complex pay-to-play rules. Because certain laws apply only to contracts not awarded through a fair and open process, identifying a contract awarded through any other process will likely highlight the contract for regulatory agencies.

Although the changes will certainly make filing more complicated, ELEC has yet to issue guidance on the new requirements.

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February 22, 2016 •

Ask the Experts – Maryland Pay-to-Play Restrictions

Q. I want to contribute to an acquaintance in Maryland.  I know there are pay-to-play restrictions.  What are my personal limitations? A. Is your company “doing public business” with the state of Maryland?  “Doing public business” means having a single […]

Nola WerrenQ. I want to contribute to an acquaintance in Maryland.  I know there are pay-to-play restrictions.  What are my personal limitations?

A. Is your company “doing public business” with the state of Maryland?  “Doing public business” means having a single contract (an agreement in any form entered into by a governmental entity for a procurement) with a single governmental entity involving cumulative consideration of at least $200,000.  Governmental entity means: (1) the State, a county, a municipal corporation, or other political subdivision of the State; and (2) a unit of the State, a county, a municipal corporation, or other political subdivision of the State.

Contributions in Maryland are still permissible even though your employing organization is doing public business.  The issue is not permissibility, but whether disclosure is required.  If you are an officer or director and the contribution is $500 or more, it must be disclosed.

  • Director is a member of the board of directors of a business entity
    [M.C.E.L. §14-101(g)].
  • Officer includes an individual who serves as a business entity’s chief executive officer, president, vice president, secretary, treasurer, chief financial officer, managing partner, managing member, or principal or in any other formal or informal role in which the individual exercises substantial independent responsibility for managing the affairs of a business entity [M.C.E.L. §14-101(k)].

If you fall into either category, disclosure is required to the Board of Elections on May 31 and November 30.

experts line

You can directly submit questions for this feature, and we will select those most appropriate and answer them here. Send your questions to: experts@stateandfed.com.

(We are always available to answer questions from clients that are specific to your needs, and we encourage you to continue to call or e-mail us with questions about your particular company or organization. As always, we will confidentially and directly provide answers or information you need.) Our replies to your questions are not legal advice. Instead, these replies represent our analysis of laws, rules, and regulations.

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January 20, 2016 •

NYT: President “Seriously Considering” Requiring Disclosure of Political Contributions by Federal Contractors

President Obama could soon issue an executive order requiring federal contractors to disclose political campaign contributions, according to the New York Times. On January 19, White House officials said the president is “seriously considering” the order, as reported by the […]

Federal ContractorsPresident Obama could soon issue an executive order requiring federal contractors to disclose political campaign contributions, according to the New York Times. On January 19, White House officials said the president is “seriously considering” the order, as reported by the paper. The order has been pushed by many outside groups and by Democratic members of congress, who have in the past, and as recently as January 7th, presented the president with letters urging executive action.

Those opposed to an executive order argue, among other things, disclosure requirements encroach on free speech and are politically motivated. “The real goal of the disclosure proponents is to harass, intimidate and silence those with whom they disagree,” Blair Latoff Holmes, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, is quoted as saying in the Times.

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January 19, 2016 •

Appeal Against Ban on Contractor Contributions Denied by U.S. Supreme Court

On January 19, the U.S. Supreme Court denied an appeal arguing against a federal law banning political contributions to candidates from federal contractors. Last year, in Miller v. Federal Election Commission, formerly Wagner v. Federal Election Commission, the U.S. District […]

US Supreme CourtOn January 19, the U.S. Supreme Court denied an appeal arguing against a federal law banning political contributions to candidates from federal contractors. Last year, in Miller v. Federal Election Commission, formerly Wagner v. Federal Election Commission, the U.S. District Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia unanimously upheld the constitutionality of the law barring contractors from contributing to candidates, parties, and candidates’ and parties’ committees.

Plaintiffs had challenged the constitutionality of 52 U.S.C. § 30119(a)(1), which prohibits any vendors with contracts with the federal government from making political contributions to federal candidates or political parties. The plaintiffs had asked the court to declare the law unconstitutional as applied to individuals who have personal services contracts with federal agencies. Because federal workers who are not contractors may make federal political contributions while contractors performing the same work may not, the suit argued the law violates both the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution and the First Amendment.

Photo of the United States Supreme Court by UpstateNYer on Wikimedia Commons.

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August 12, 2015 •

New South Carolina DOT Policy Aims to Clarify Ethics Law

The South Carolina Department of Transportation is instituting a new rule regarding employees who leave state employment to work for state contractors. The new policy will prohibit former employees from working on new road construction projects for 365 days after […]

South Carolina flagThe South Carolina Department of Transportation is instituting a new rule regarding employees who leave state employment to work for state contractors.

The new policy will prohibit former employees from working on new road construction projects for 365 days after leaving the department.

The department’s acting secretary says the new policy will help clarify state ethics law and ensure there is no perception of impropriety.

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August 10, 2015 •

Indiana Governor Ends Contract and Seeks Ethics Investigation

Gov. Mike Pence has cancelled a contract between the state Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) and Express MVA and requested an investigation due to possible ethics violations. Shawn Walters, formerly the BMV chief of staff, had approved Express MVA’s opening […]

Gov. Mike PenceGov. Mike Pence has cancelled a contract between the state Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) and Express MVA and requested an investigation due to possible ethics violations.

Shawn Walters, formerly the BMV chief of staff, had approved Express MVA’s opening of a private license branch in 2010. However, when Walters moved from state employment to become the chief operating officer of Express MVA in 2014, he did not ask the state Ethics Commission if such a move would violate the state’s law requiring a one-year cooling-off period.

In addition to ending the contract, Pence has asked the inspector general to determine if Walters violated any ethics law by accepting a job with Express MVA.

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August 5, 2015 •

NYT: Draft Executive Order Requires Federal Contractors Provide Paid Sick Leave

Federal contractors may be required to provide “paid leave to employees who are sick, are seeking medical attention or need to care for a sick relative,” according to an article published in today’s New York Times. The paper says it […]

government buildingFederal contractors may be required to provide “paid leave to employees who are sick, are seeking medical attention or need to care for a sick relative,” according to an article published in today’s New York Times.

The paper says it obtained a confidential draft of a presidential executive order, marked “pre-decisional and deliberative,” requiring all federal contractors and subcontractors to provide leave for illnesses and for care of “a child, parent, spouse, domestic partner ‘or any other individual related by blood or affinity whose close association with the employee is the equivalent of a family relationship.’” The White House has refused to comment on the draft document.

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July 13, 2015 •

Contractor Contribution Constraints Continued by Court in Wagner v. FEC

Last week the U.S. District Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia unanimously upheld the constitutionality of the law barring contractors from contributing to candidates, parties, and candidates’ and parties’ committees. Plaintiffs had challenged the constitutionality of 52 U.S.C. […]

District of Columbia Court of Appeals SealLast week the U.S. District Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia unanimously upheld the constitutionality of the law barring contractors from contributing to candidates, parties, and candidates’ and parties’ committees.

Plaintiffs had challenged the constitutionality of 52 U.S.C. § 30119(a)(1), which prohibits any vendors with contracts with the federal government from making political contributions to federal candidates or political parties. In Wagner v. Federal Election Commission, the plaintiffs had asked the court to declare the law unconstitutional as applied to individuals who have personal services contracts with federal agencies.

Because federal workers who are not contractors may make federal political contributions while contractors performing the same work may not, the suit argued the law violates both the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution and the First Amendment.

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October 24, 2014 •

Pennsylvania Pay-to-Play Law Signed by Governor

Gov. Tom Corbett has signed a bill to curtail pay-to-play politics in state procurement contracts. House Bill 201 prohibits individuals who were employed by an offeror within the previous two years from participating in the evaluation of proposals. The new […]

Tom Corbett signature.Gov. Tom Corbett has signed a bill to curtail pay-to-play politics in state procurement contracts. House Bill 201 prohibits individuals who were employed by an offeror within the previous two years from participating in the evaluation of proposals.

The new law will prevent recently hired government workers from rewarding their former employers with large state contracts.

This provision will go into effect on December 20.

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October 16, 2014 •

Pay-to-Play Bill Awaiting Pennsylvania Governor’s Approval

The Pennsylvania House of Representatives approved a bill Wednesday to curtail pay-to-play politics in state contracts. House Bill 201 prohibits state employees from evaluating contract proposals submitted by companies they worked for during the previous two years. The legislation has […]

PA State CapitolThe Pennsylvania House of Representatives approved a bill Wednesday to curtail pay-to-play politics in state contracts.

House Bill 201 prohibits state employees from evaluating contract proposals submitted by companies they worked for during the previous two years.

The legislation has been sent to Gov. Tom Corbett for his signature.

Photo of the Pennsylvania State Capitol by ThePlaz on Wikimedia Commons.

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October 15, 2014 •

FitzGerald Proposes Amendment Clarifying County Contracting Ban

Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald proposed an amendment at Tuesday’s County Council meeting seeking to clarify the county’s code in light of an independent county board ruling. The Debarment Review Board, a panel largely made up of FitzGerald appointees, effectively […]

Cuyahoga County SealCuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald proposed an amendment at Tuesday’s County Council meeting seeking to clarify the county’s code in light of an independent county board ruling. The Debarment Review Board, a panel largely made up of FitzGerald appointees, effectively shortened the county contracting ban for a former contractor convicted of corruption.

The board ruled William Neiheiser’s ban should have begun the day he was convicted of bribery in July 2011 and run through July 2016. County Inspector General Nailah Byrd imposed the ban from June 2014 to June 2019.

FitzGerald’s proposed amendment stipulates contracting bans are to begin the day they are publicly handed down by the county inspector general enforcing the policy.

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October 9, 2014 •

Vermont Attorney General Candidate Calls for Pay-to-Play Ban

Republican attorney general candidate Shane McCormack is calling for tougher campaign finance rules for those holding the office. McCormack’s proposal would ban current service providers from contributing to a sitting attorney general and would prevent a donor from becoming a […]

Vermont state sealRepublican attorney general candidate Shane McCormack is calling for tougher campaign finance rules for those holding the office. McCormack’s proposal would ban current service providers from contributing to a sitting attorney general and would prevent a donor from becoming a contractor after a successful campaign.

During a debate on Vermont Public Radio, McCormack revealed current attorney general Bill Sorrell accepted $8,000 from Dallas-based Baron & Budd, a law firm later hired as counsel. Sorrell defended the contribution by stating it was properly disclosed and the law firm was hired due to its expertise in the area being litigated.

Baron & Budd was hired following a recommendation from the Agency of Natural Resources to litigate a contaminated groundwater case against the fuel industry. Sorrell claims the agency was unaware of the contribution prior to making the recommendation.

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October 8, 2014 •

King County, Washington Council Passes Living Wage Ordinance

On Monday, October 8, 2014, the Metropolitan King County Council passed an ordinance establishing a living wage. Ordinance 2014-0299 applies to all county employees and to county contractors with contracts totaling more than $100,000. Beginning April 1, 2015, Schedule I […]

Map_of_Washington_highlighting_King_County.svgOn Monday, October 8, 2014, the Metropolitan King County Council passed an ordinance establishing a living wage. Ordinance 2014-0299 applies to all county employees and to county contractors with contracts totaling more than $100,000.

Beginning April 1, 2015, Schedule I employers, which are companies with more than 500 employees in the U.S., must pay their employees $11 per hour. The hourly living wage rate will increase on January 1, 2016, to $13 per hour or $12.50 if the employer contributes to its employees’ health plan. The hourly wage will increase yearly as provided in the ordinance until 2018, when all further increases will be tied to the national inflation rate. Beginning January 1, 2019, payment by the employer of health benefits will no longer affect the hourly rate.

Schedule II employers, which are companies with 500 or fewer employees in the U.S., must pay their employees $10 per hour. Beginning January 1, 2016, the hourly rate increases yearly to reach $17.25 by 2024. Beginning January 1, 2025, Schedule II employers must pay their employees a living wage equal to that of Schedule I employers.

The living wage ordinance applies to any contract over $100,000 entered into on or after April 1, 2015, the effective date of the ordinance.

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