Categories
COVID News

Governor Newsom Survives Recall Election

News & Analysis
Latest legal news and recent law changes.

Governor Newsom Survives Recall Election

With 70% of the California counties reporting, not enough outstanding votes remain to recall the sitting Governor, therefor solidifying that Gavin Newson has survived the 2021 Recall Election.

The currently tally of votes shows 5,840,283 votes against Governor Newson’s recall and 3,297,145 in favor. Republican challenger Larry Elder received 2,373,551 votes, or 46.9% votes over all to be the next governor.

This is California’s 179th attempted political recall since 1913 (source).

Categories
COVID News

Workplace Vaccination Requirements: All Employers With 100 Workers or More Must Require Covid-19 Vaccinations or a Weekly Negative Test Result

News & Analysis
Latest legal news and recent law changes.

Workplace Vaccination Requirements: All Employers With 100 Workers or More Must Require Covid-19 Vaccinations or a Weekly Negative Test Result

On September 9th, 2021, President Biden announced incoming restrictions on non-vaccinated individuals in the workplace. Private employers with 100 or more employees must require their workers to be either be: (i) fully vaccinated or (ii) have them obtain weekly COVID-19 tests confirming they are not live carriers of the virus. Employers must take note: Businesses will also be required to provide paid leave for employees to become vaccinated.

Referred to as the “Covid-19 Mandate,” this requirement has yet to be officially implemented and officials are awaiting the Executive Order as well as the new Emergency Temporary Standard by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which will develop mechanisms for implementation. It is anticipated that there will be various lawsuits challenging the Executive Order, the fate of which is unknown. In theory, legal precedent advises that the Covid-19 Mandate will be held constitutional [i.e., Jacobson v. Massachusetts 197 U.S. 11 (1905)]. However, as has been seen with the Supreme Court’s decision ending the CDC’s eviction moratorium, and the Court’s refusal to block the recent controversial Texas law, the current Supreme Court is anything but predictable; and it could potentially strike down the Covid-19 Mandate based on the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution (State Sovereign Immunity). This blog will be updated as details emerge.

 


For more details, contact Burton Law Firm at: 916.822.8700 or info@lawburton.com or, see details at: https://www.whitehouse.gov/covidplan/.

Categories
COVID News

Supreme Court Ends CDC Pandemic Residential Eviction Moratorium

News & Analysis
Latest legal news and recent law changes.

Supreme Court Ends CDC Pandemic Residential Eviction Moratorium

In a 6-3 decision on party lines, Alabama Assn. of Realtors v. Department of Health and Human Servs., the Supreme Court struck down President Biden’s COVID-19 eviction ban. This decision was unexpected as the Court’s upheld the ban placed by the prior administration which expired last July. The Order was unsigned (“Per Curiam”). Although the lack of a signature does not affect the enforceability of the Order, it is an unusual circumstance seemingly acknowledging the controversial nature of the ruling.

Historically, the Court is relatively flexible toward responses to public emergencies. However, the conservative majority rued such flexibility was no longer warranted. Specifically, that “[v]accine and rental-assistance distribution had improved since the stay was entered, while the harm to landlords had continued to increase.” [Alabama Assn. of Realtors, 584 U.S. at 4-5)].  The dissent countered with statistics, warning that this ruling risks the reemergence of COVID-19 mutations as 92% of U.S. counties have “substantial” and “high” levels of coronavirus transmission with national “average new daily hospital admissions at 12,209.” [Id at 14].

The majority opinion ultimately voided the moratorium under the doctrine of separation of powers, arguing that the 1944 law that delegated power to the CDC is far narrower than what the current administration maintains. Simply put, the Court ruled that the Executive branch did not have legal authority to ban evictions, and that Congress, and Congress alone, could authorize this ban.

As such, please be advised that the ban on evictions is unconstitutional due to its origin not its substance. Should Congress pass a law identical to the CDC’s moratorium, a ban on evictions would most likely be held constitutional.

The full ruling can be read HERE.

Categories
COVID News

U.S. Senate Passes $1 Trillion Infrastructure Bill

News & Analysis
Latest legal news and recent law changes.

U.S. Senate Passes $1 Trillion Infrastructure Bill

On August 10th, 2021, with 68 yes votes vs. 29 no votes, the United States Senate passed the INVEST in America Act (H.R. 3684), a $1 trillion infrastructure revamp that has been a signature component of President Biden’s economic agenda. The bill constitutes a significant victory for the Biden Administration and received bipartisan support in its passing by the Senate.

More than half of the funds will go specifically to improvements in transportation, broadband telecommunications infrastructure, and public utilities. The bill also includes funding designated to combat climate change in the form of “publicly accessible electric vehicle charging infrastructure, hydrogen fueling infrastructure, propane fueling infrastructure, and natural gas fueling infrastructure[.]” Specifically, the bill approves spending on the following:

  • $11 billion for road safety;
  • $15 billion on alternative fuel based vehicle infrastructure;
  • $17 billion toward port improvements;
  • $17 billion toward airports;
  • $21 billion on environmental reclamation;
  • $39 billion for public transit revitalization;
  • $66 billion to expand passenger rail lines;
  • $50 billion for flood and other natural disaster protection;
  • $55 billion in clean water distribution;
  • $65 billion in broadband infrastructure;
  • $73 in clean energy conversion; and
  • $110 billion for roads and bridges.

Despite already having passed the House, the bill must return to the House to be reconciled with the Senate’s version before it can be sent for President Biden’s signature. This is not expected to occur until September 20th, but it is expected to pass the House again and then proceed to the President’s desk to be signed into law.

The full bill can be read here. For more information, please contact the Burton Law Firm or your local congressperson.

Categories
COVID News

Public Mask Mandate Reinstatement

News & Analysis
Latest legal news and recent law changes.

Public Mask Mandate Reinstatement

On July 29, the Sacramento County Health Office issued  a Health Order, effective July 30, requiring masks to be worn indoors in public settings. This order comes because of an almost 300% rise in the number of hospitalizations for COVID-19 in the last month since the statewide restrictions were lifted. According to the order, 64.8% of positive COVID-19 tests in Sacramento County were found to be the Delta variant that is currently causing surges in COVID-19 cases all over the world. This order also references the recent CDC and California Department of Public Health recommendations to wear face coverings in indoor public settings, elevating the recommendations to a mandate.

The order requires:

  • Masks to be worn in all indoor public venues, regardless of one’s vaccination status.
  • Businesses to require face coverings indoors, and to post visible signage at all entry points to indoor settings stating the mask requirements.
  • All attendees of “Indoor Mega-Events” (gatherings of 5,000 or more attendees) to wear face coverings.
  • All attendees of “Outdoor Mega-Events” (gatherings of 10,000 or more attendees) to wear face coverings.

The entire order can be read on the Sacramento County Website linked here. Sacramento County Order of the Health Officer – 07-29-2021.pdf (saccounty.net)

Categories
COVID News

The American Families Plan: President Biden’s Next Step

News & Analysis
Latest legal news and recent law changes.

The American Families Plan: President Biden’s Next Step

On April 28, 2021, President Biden unveiled the American Families Plan. This plan, if adopted in its entirety, would make significant changes to childcare, education, family and medical leave, and tax credits for low-income households. Many of the programs that it would expand would be funded via higher taxes on high income households[1], as well as increased enforcement of current tax policies via additional funding to the IRS. The White House says additional IRS funding would “go toward enforcement against those with the highest incomes. . . . Additional resources would focus on large corporations, businesses, and estates, and higher-income individuals.”[2] This plan will also limit 1031 like-kind exchanges above $500,000 in deferred capital gains, end the preferred treatment of carried interest, and make the 2017 tax law’s limitation on excess losses that applies to non-corporate income permanent.

The American Families Plan will focus on providing the following benefits:

  • Childcare, in the form of universal prekindergarten for children 3 and 4 years old.
  • Strengthening education by providing better training for teachers, and by providing 2 years of free community college following high school.
  • Decreasing food insecurity of children, by providing free meals for children in high-poverty school districts, and by expanding access to summer EBT (Electronic Benefits Transfer) programs—programs that provide increased access to SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits.
  • Reforming unemployment insurance, by putting money towards “unemployment insurance system modernization, equitable access, and fraud prevention”[3]
  • Creating a national paid family and medical leave program.
  • Granting a variety of tax credits to low-income households with children.

This legislation comes as the third installment of Biden’s “Build Back Better” plan. Build Back Better consists of a series of legislation started with the American Rescue Plan that he has claimed is intended to help many Americans who have been impacted negatively by the pandemic as well as assist people who were struggling even before COVID-19 was a factor. It is still early to say if it will pass or not but the American Families Plan indicates what Biden hopes to accomplish during his time as President.


[1] Raise of the top marginal income tax from 37% to 39.5% (applies to incomes over $425,700 for single filers and $509,300 for joint filers). Taxing long term capital gains and qualified dividends as ordinary income for taxpayers with taxable income over $1 million. Taxing unrealized gains at death for unrealized gains above $1 million for single filers and 42 million for joint filers. Apply a 3.8% net investment income tax (NIIT) to active pass-through business income above $400,000. Pass-through businesses include partnerships, sole proprietorships, and S corporations.

[2] The White House Briefing Room Statements: “Fact Sheet: The American Families Plan” 4/28/2021

[3] The White House Briefing Room Statements: “Fact Sheet: The American Families Plan” 4/28/2021

Categories
COVID News

Covid is Down But Not Out: Osha’s Guidance for Your Employees

News & Analysis
Latest legal news and recent law changes.

Covid is Down But Not Out: Osha’s Guidance for Your Employees

On June 15th, OSHA released new guidance for employers that brings them in line with the recent CDC guidance released on May 28th. This guidance allows vaccinated workers in all industries except the medical field to go back to work without wearing a mask, unless required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations.

For unvaccinated workers, OSHA still advises that masks be worn and social distancing be followed. In workplaces where all employees are fully vaccinated, most employers no longer need to take steps to protect workers from COVID-19 exposure. If there are unvaccinated employees in the workplace, steps do need to be taken to protect those employees. OSHA points to 11 mitigation measures that they advise employers to take:

  1. Grant PTO for employees to be vaccinated.
    1. They also note that businesses with fewer than 500 employees may be eligible for tax credits based on PTO given to employees to get vaccinated.
  2. Instruct any workers who are infected or unvaccinated workers who have had close contact with an infected individual to stay home from work.
  3. Implement physical distancing for unvaccinated and at-risk employees in all communal areas.
  4. Provide face coverings for unvaccinated and at-risk employees.
  5. Educate and train workers on COVID-19 policies and procedures in languages they understand.
  6. Suggest that unvaccinated customers, visitors, or guests wear face coverings.
  7. Maintain Ventilation Systems.
  8. Perform routine cleaning and disinfection.
  9. Record and report COVID-19 infections and deaths.
  10. Implement protections from retaliation and set up an anonymous process for workers to voice concerns about COVID-19 related hazards.
  11. Follow other applicable mandatory OSHA standards, including: respiratory protection, sanitation, protection from bloodborne pathogens, and OSHA requirements for employee access to medical and exposure records.

Some people will still choose to wear masks in the workplace, maybe to protect someone close to them, or maybe because it makes them feel comfortable. Regardless of the reason, it is important to respect the choices that others make regarding their safety.  This has been a trying time, and it is not always possible to know the circumstances that others are dealing with. Be kind and stay strong.

 

Categories
COVID News

Bars and Restaurants Given an Extension for To-Go Alcohol Deliveries until December 31, 2021

News & Analysis
Latest legal news and recent law changes.

Bars and Restaurants Given an Extension for To-Go Alcohol Deliveries until December 31, 2021

Although things are starting to return to normal as of June 15th (see blog post), loosened alcohol sales and consumption laws will remain in effect for the remainder of 2021.

The Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control provided various temporary allowances during COVID which included the ability to return purchased alcohol; allowances of off-sales purchases from on-sale retailers; purchasing “to-go” premixed alcoholic beverages; and acceptance of payment at delivery. In other words, it was easier for establishments to sell beer, wine, and pre-mixed cocktails/drinks for pick-up and delivery.

These loosened restrictions are expected to assist restaurants badly hurt by the pandemic, because they can continue to expand outdoor operations in areas such as sidewalks and parking lots, and can continue the sale of to-go alcoholic beverages with food deliveries.

Furthermore, if these allowances continue to be popular, the legislature has pondered keeping some of them permanent, which would be greatly endorsed by current restaurants and breweries.

For more details see the CA Press Release, or contact the Burton Law Firm at 916.822.8700.

Categories
Business Law COVID

SB-95 Employment: COVID-19: Supplemental Paid Sick Leave Passed

News & Analysis
Latest legal news and recent law changes.

SB-95 Employment: COVID-19: Supplemental Paid Sick Leave Passed

On March 19th, Governor Newsom approved SB-95, the Supplemental Paid Sick Leave law, which requires firms with twenty-five (25) or more employees to provide supplemental paid sick leave to said employees who are unable to work or telework due to COVID-19 (aka the “covered employees”). Their sick leave shall be paid at the highest of the covered employee’s regular rate of pay, the state minimum wage, or the local minimum wage to which the covered employee is entitled.  The bill entitles full time employees up to eighty (80) hours of supplemental paid sick leave, that the number is reduced for part-time workers.

The employees new Supplemental Paid Sick Leave takes priority in calculating an employee’s already existing and available leave, because “[a]n employer shall not require a covered employee to use any other paid or unpaid leave, paid time off, or vacation time provided by the employer . . . in lieu of COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave.”

Section 248.2(b) of Labor Code broadly extends the scope of this supplemental paid sick leave to:

  • employees subject to quarantine or isolation;
  • employees advised by a local health officer to self-quarantine;
  • employees seeking a vaccination;
  • employees experiencing symptoms related to the COVID-19 vaccine;
  • employees experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and seeking a medical diagnosis;
  • employees caring for a family member who is subject to a quarantine or isolation period or who has been advised to self-quarantine; and/or
  • employees caring for a child whose school or place of care is closed or otherwise unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19.

One concern is that the new law could provide employees with a way to work the system, in that it appears to allow eligibility for paid sick leave if “the employee has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19.” That leaves the door open to interpretation and abuse.  However, this is nothing new for employers; and the new law will hopefully assist to end the pandemic as soon as possible.

For more information, please contact our firm at 916.822.8700 or info@lawburton.com. Or, see the full text of the law at: https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billTextClient.xhtml?bill_id=202120220SB95.

Categories
COVID News

Individual Tax Deadline Extended from April 15th to May 17th, 2021

News & Analysis
Latest legal news and recent law changes.

Individual Tax Deadline Extended from April 15th to May 17th, 2021

On March 17th, the IRS made a 4th quarter decision to extend the federal deadline, and therein moved the individual tax filing deadline ahead by a little over a month. Now, your individual IRS taxes will be due May 17th, 2021.

Relatedly, taxpayers shall postpone federal income tax payments without penalties and interest, regardless of the amount owed. Penalties, interest and additions to tax will begin to accrue on any remaining unpaid balances as of May 17, 2021. Individual taxpayers will automatically avoid interest and penalties on the taxes paid by May 17.

Please take note, this deadline only extends to federal individual payments, and does not extend to state tax payments or deposits or payments of any other type of federal tax, such as partnership and corporate deadlines.

For more information, please contact the Burton Law Firm at 916.822.8700. More information will be released in the following days, but feel free to read on at: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/tax-day-for-individuals-extended-to-may-17-treasury-irs-extend-filing-and-payment-deadline.

UPDATE: The California FTB has agreed to match the IRS individual filing deadline to May 17th.

“We are aware the federal tax filing and payment deadline for individuals has been extended to May 17, 2021. Consistent with the IRS, California will also extend the state tax filing and payment deadline for individuals to May 17, 2021. The extension does not apply to estimated tax payments due on April 15, 2021.” See https://www.ftb.ca.gov/about-ftb/newsroom/2020-tax-year-extension-to-file-and-pay-individual.html for more details.