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Congressional and Agency Debates

  • Natural Resources Agency Finalizes Updates to the CEQA Guidelines
    12.10/Alert

    At the end of November 2018, the California Natural Resources Agency (CNRA) posted final adopted text for amendments to the regulations implementing the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), known as the CEQA Guidelines. The final text is the result of over five years of development efforts by the Governor’s Office of Planning & Research (OPR) and CNRA. The amendments combine changes to transportation impact analysis as directed by Senate Bill 743 (2013) with the most comprehensive update to the CEQA Guidelines since 1998, incorporating statutory changes, court decisions, and comments from public agencies, business and environmental groups, and other stakeholders through multiple rounds of public review. The wide range of issues covered in the amendments includes use of regulatory standards as significance thresholds; environmental baselines; a new metric for analyzing transportation impacts; climate, water supply and energy impacts; and numerous procedural and technical improvements.

  • GAO Publishes Fiscal Year 2018 Bid Protest Statistics
    11.29/Alert

    On November 27, 2018, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) published its annual report on bid protest statistics. The GAO’s report, which is mandated by the Competition in Contracting Act, lists its key statistics for Fiscal Year 2018 bid protest activity. The GAO’s report also includes a chart providing similar bid protest statistics for Fiscal Years 2014-2018. This five-year snapshot provides some valuable insight into current bid protest trends and developments at the GAO.

  • Groundbreaking Changes Coming Soon to GSA Multiple Award Schedules
    11.28/Alert

    Over the next two years, the General Services Administration (GSA) plans to consolidate the agency’s 24 Multiple Award Schedules into a single schedule. The consolidation is part of GSA’s strategy to optimize the federal acquisition process. By FY 2020, GSA plans to have one set of terms and conditions, which should enhance consistency in the acquisition process. With one schedule contract, agencies can buy and vendors can offer a “solutions-based approach” including both products and services.

  • New Era of Aggressive Oversight Expected from House Democrats
    11.20/Alert

    The U.S. House of Representatives will be a hotbed of activity with respect to oversight of the Trump Administration and private sector stakeholders that are aligned with or have benefitted from the Administration’s policies over the past two years. House Democratic committee leaders are eager to shine a light on (and, inevitably, score political points related to) alleged malfeasance or corruption. Attention may come in the form of information requests and subpoenas, congressional hearings, committee investigations, and other forms of public inquiry.

  • The Qualified Opportunity Zone Program: Thoughts on the Long-Awaited Treasury Guidance
    11.14/Alert

    Section 13823 of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, P.L. No. 115-97 (2017) added Sections 1400Z-1 and 1400Z-2 to the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended (the “Code”). These provisions created the Qualified Opportunity Zone (“QOZ”) program that has recently generated such a wave of media attention that one might surmise President Trump had sent an angry late-night tweet about it.

  • Pillsbury's Post-Election Outlook
    11.07/Alert

    The 2018 Midterm Election played out as most poll forecasters speculated. Although several races have yet to be decided, Republicans have retained control of the Senate, but lost at least 29 seats, allowing the Democrats to wrest back control of the House for the first time since 2010.

  • 2018 Election Night Guide
    11.02/Article

    Pillsbury’s Political Law and Public Policy groups break down the need-to-know numbers for this year’s election. Pillsbury’s biennial Election Night Guide examines the potential outcomes for the 2018 Congressional and Governor’s races. Our Public Policy team is also preparing a post-election guide that will be useful in navigating potential changes in Congress.

  • Congress Commissions Study of Bid Protests Filed at Both the GAO and COFC
    08.07/Alert

    We have previously discussed Congress’ efforts to reform the bid protest process through recent National Defense Authorization Acts (NDAA). In the Fiscal Year 2017 NDAA, Congress mandated a review of the bid protest process for Department of Defense (DoD) acquisitions, which led to a nearly year-long research study by the RAND National Defense Research Institute (RAND). The Fiscal Year 2018 NDAA provided for a number of reforms to the bid protest system, including enhanced debriefing rights for protestors. Much of these enhanced debriefing rights were implemented on March 22, 2018, by a Class Deviation issued by DoD. This year’s NDAA signals Congress’ continued interest in reforming the bid protest system to enhance the efficiency of the acquisition system.

  • New SIGAR Report Identifies “Waste, Fraud and Abuse” in Afghanistan
    08.01/Alert

    We recently reported on a Department of Defense (DoD) regulation effective April 13, 2018, that prevents government contracting officers from funding projects in Afghanistan that cannot be safely accessed and monitored by military or civilian personnel, as these projects raise a heightened specter of waste, fraud, and abuse. A new report (the “SIGAR Report”) from the Office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, the government entity charged with monitoring U.S. reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan, effectively validates the concerns that gave rise to this regulation and suggests that government scrutiny of public spending in Afghanistan is likely to continue to intensify.

  • DFARS Clause Blocks Funding for Unsafe Projects in Afghanistan
    04.25/Alert

    A new rule prohibits the use of funds for DoD construction and infrastructure programs and projects in Afghanistan that cannot be safely accessed by U.S. Government personnel.

  • 2018 Spending Plan Boosts Funding for Affordable Housing
    04.10/Blog

    A $1.3 trillion spending package that includes a 12.5% increase in low-income housing tax credit allocations over the next four years is welcome news to affordable housing developers who have been facing funding gaps.

  • New CERCLA Brownfields Amendments
    03.29/Blog

    Spurred by the realization there may be as many as 450,000 Brownfields sites around the country that require some financial assistance, the recently enacted bi-partisan BUILD Act reauthorizes the EPA's Brownfields program at current funding levels through 2023.

  • Bill Expands Corporate Liability for Human Trafficking to Social Media Companies
    03.27/Alert

    The recently passed Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA) creates civil liability for social media companies that benefit from a human trafficker’s online media presence if they “should have known” that their platform was being utilized for such exploitation.

  • Court of Appeals Rolls Back Portions of the FCC’s 2015 Robocall and Text Ruling
    03.19/Blog

    A recent Court of Appeals decision will rescind some aspects of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act and have significant implications for businesses contacting consumers by telephone or text.

  • Recent and Upcoming Changes to 401(k) Plans
    03.08/Alert

    The rules governing 401(k) plans are steadily evolving. Both the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (the Act) and the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 (the Budget) contain a number of changes to the 401(k) plan rules.

  • Safety from Hackers—and Trial Lawyers
    02.25/Article

    A simple legislative fix would shield cybersecurity innovators from costly nuisance lawsuits.

  • The 2018 Government Shutdown – How Can Contractors Preserve Rights?
    01.23/Alert

    Contractors suffered cost impacts and uncertainty during the recent three-day government shutdown. What happens if a long-term deal can't be reached?

  • Congress Expands the Oil Pollution Act to Reach Spills Originating Outside of the U.S.
    01.22/Alert

    The Foreign Spill Protection Act of 2017 establishes oil spill liability in the U.S. for foreign-based offshore exploration and production facilities.

  • Key Tax Reform Issues for Nonprofit Membership Organizations/Associations
    01.16/Alert

    While associations won't face the harshest proposals, several features of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will have a negative impact on tax-exempt membership organizations.

  • Five Things Employers Should Know about Tax Reform
    01.04/Alert

    The final Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will require employers to address a number of  changes to equity compensation and employee benefits laws. Here are five major ones.

  • The Impact of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act on LIHTC Investments
    01.03/Alert

    With the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act signed into law, investors in low income housing tax credit projects should take note of a few important changes.

  • The SEC’s Shutdown of the Munchee ICO
    01.02/Alert

    The SEC’s recent shutdown of Munchee Inc.’s planned initial coin offering illustrates just how murky the related securities law can be. To see an offering through—and ensure compliance with the Securities Act—businesses exploring an ICO should consider its Rule 506(c) and Regulation A provisions.

  • Historic Estate Planning Opportunities from Tax Reform
    12.28/Alert

    How can your estate planning efforts take advantage of the new tax law? Here are some beneficial changes.

  • Last Minute Tax Change Benefits Commercial Real Estate
    12.18/Blog

    A last-minute change to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act could be particularly beneficial to certain commercial property owners with few employees and leveraged capital investments.

  • Retroactive Corporate Liability for Human Rights Abuses
    12.07/Alert

    Section 13 of the Criminal Finances Act 2017 is now in effect in the United Kingdom, meaning companies have far greater liability for human rights violations.

  • Ireland Set to Bring Anti-Bribery and Corruption Laws Up-to-Date
    12.07/Alert

    New legislation represents a major update to Irish anti-bribery and corruption laws. International companies with Irish subsidiaries, as well as Irish-headquartered companies, should take note.

  • Five Things to Know about the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act
    12.04/Alert

    As the House and Senate head to conference regarding the final tax bill, every business should pay particular attention to how these five issues are handled.

  • Estate Planning Under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act
    11.28/Alert

    The Tax Cuts Jobs Act passed by the House will almost certainly be amended in the Senate but, as currently drafted, the legislation will dramatically change the estate and gift tax regime in United States.

  • Prime Contractors Take Note of New California Law Imposing Liability for Subcontractors’ Employees’ Unpaid Wages
    11.22/Blog

    A new California law requires prime contractors on private projects to be as involved in monitoring their subcontractors’ payroll practices as their public works counterparts.

  • Three Key Aspects of the Proposed Reform to the CFIUS Process
    11.18/Blog

    A bill updating the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. and the national security review process has been introduced in the U.S. House and Senate. Here's what you need to know.

  • U.S. DOT Releases Draft Strategic Plan Beginning Implementation of Trump Administration’s Executive Order on Project Streamlining
    10.27/Blog

    The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has released a draft Strategic Plan that establishes goals for increasing investment and streamlining environmental review and approval of transportation infrastructure projects over the next five years. The draft Plan is DOT’s first formal action in response to the Administration’s Executive Order on streamlining. Although it identifies needs and objectives it provides few specifics.

  • ARC Dispute May Mean Further Delay in Needed Drone Regulation
    10.19/Blog

    The Unmanned Aircraft Systems Identification and Tracking Aviation Rulemaking Committee has failed to reach consensus on issues described as fundamental for operations over people and operations beyond the visual line-of-sight (BVLOS). The UAS industry is growing rapidly but If users are to capitalize on this opportunity, the FAA will need to get serious about catching up.

  • House Judiciary Committee Votes to Advance Controversial ADA Amendment
    10.02/Blog

    The House of Representatives has proposed legislation that would limit Americans with Disabilities Act lawsuits based on a business’s failure to proactively remove obstacles that impede access to existing public accommodations. Disabled persons’ groups oppose the bill.

  • Brace for 2018: The SEC’s Pay Ratio Rule
    08.18/Alert

    Starting in January 2018, public companies must disclose the ratio between their CEO’s salary and the salary of the company’s “median employee.” This article reviews SEC guidance on those calculations, and provides a six-step plan to prepare your company for the new requirements.

  • Chemicals, Compliance and the Toxic Substances Control Act
    08.16/Alert

    The Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) required the compiling of a national register of chemicals that were manufactured in or imported into the United States for a non-exempt commercial purpose, and the first TSCA Inventory in 1979 included approximately 62,000 chemicals. Since then, the Inventory has been expanded to include approximately 90,000 chemicals—a rate of over 700 new chemicals per year.

  • Three Birds with One Stone: New Russia, North Korea and Iran Sanctions
    08.11/Blog

    On August 2, 2017, President Trump signed into law the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), strengthening U.S. sanctions on Russia, North Korea and Iran. The new sanctions could have far-reaching implications for companies and investors, although it remains unclear how vigorously they sanctions will be implemented, particularly for Russia.

  • FTA Proposes Rule Waiving Regulatory Burdens on Public-Private Partnerships (P3s) for Public Transportation Projects
    08.01/Blog

    The FTA has proposed new rules to encourage the use of public-private partnerships (P3s), joint developments and other private investment mechanisms in surface transportation. Under the proposal, a P3 can obtain a divergence from certain existing FTA requirements, as detailed in the article.

  • Senate Minority Leader Urges President Trump to Suspend Chinese Acquisitions of U.S. Companies
    08.01/Blog

    Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer has written to President Trump asking him to order the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) to suspend the approval of all covered transactions by Chinese entities. This article discusses Sen. Schumer’s position and possible upcoming legislative action.

  • The Safe DRONE Act of 2017: The Newest Drone Bill on the Block
    06.29/Blog

    In June 2017, U.S. Senators introduced the Safe DRONE Act of 2017, one of a number of bills aimed at addressing the regulatory needs of the unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) industry. Current federal efforts focus on keeping up with technological advancements and creating a uniform framework for UAS-related laws.

  • New Details Emerge on Legislative Proposal to Modernize CFIUS Process
    06.23/Blog

    A bipartisan group in Congress is working to modernize the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) review process due to increased foreign direct investment and perceived threats to national security. The proposed legislation would focus on nations posing the greatest threat and give CFIUS clearer authority to review investments.