The Aftermath of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Decision on DOMA

The Windsor Decision Creates Myriad of Questions While the plaintiff in the Defense of Marriage Act case, Edith Windsor, will get back $363,000 in federal estate taxes plus interest, the future is murky for the estimated 114,000 legally married same-sex couples living in the United States. That’s because a state line still decides who is married and who is not… Read On

Mid-Year Update: Federal & State Taxes

State Taxes While there were not that many major tax law changes in Pennsylvania this year, it appears as if there are big changes on the horizon as House Bill 465 is inundated with tax provisions.  Pending Governor Corbett’s signature, one key provision would close the “Delaware loophole” that allows corporations to minimize tax obligations by transferring assets to out-of-state holding companies… Read On

PCN to Broadcast Arguments in Department of Education Records Case Today

Nauman Smith attorney Joshua D. Bonn argued a public records case with broad implications for Penn State and other state-related universities at the Commonwealth Court’s en banc argument session on June 19, 2013.  The Pennsylvania Cable Network will broadcast the argument session today at 7 p.m, and online by the end of the weekend. Bonn represents Ryan Bagwell, who is seeking records related to Louis Freeh’s investigation of the Jerry Sandusky scandal at Penn State University.  Bagwell asked the Department of Education to disclose emails received by Ronald Tomalis… Read On

Federal Preemption Protects Railroads from a “Flood” of Claims

In September, 2011, Hurricane Lee slammed into the eastern seaboard of the United States.  The northeast was particularly hard hit, including Pennsylvania.  Damage to both commercial and residential property was extensive.  Many of those affected did not have flood insurance.  Those home and business owners have looked for deep pockets out of which to recoup their losses. … Read On

Pennsylvania’s Fledgling Right-to-Know Law Could Face a Major Overhaul

Barely four years old, Pennsylvania’s “new” Right-to-Know Law, (“RTKL”), could be in for a major overhaul.  Senator Dominic Pileggi, the author of the bill which eventually became, in large part, the 2009 law, has introduced a bill this session, SB 444, which would make major amendments to the existing law.  Public hearings have been held concerning the proposed amendments.  … Read On

Marcellus Shale – Update

Marcellus Shale gas drilling and fracking continue to be in the spotlight.  Last minute changes to Senate Bill 259 made during the recent budget negotiations have prompted environmental and oil and gas royalty owner groups alike to observe that the legislation seriously weakens the negotiating rights for certain landowners holding mineral rights.  Governor Corbett signed Senate Bill 259 into law on July 9… Read On

Agency has no duty to inquire of former employees and officials whether they are in possession of the agency’s public records

The Commonwealth Court has examined the scope of an agency’s duty to make inquiries to individuals in possession of the agency’s public records. Charles Breslin v. Dickinson Township, — A.3d —-, 875 C.D. 2012 (Pa.Cmwlth. 2013). The Breslin case involved an open-records request for a specific email between Township supervisors. The request at issue described the date and subject line of the email and further stated the email was “… currently in the possession of [the] former township manager ….” The Township’s Open-Records-Officer conducted a search… Read On

Marcellus Shale Update

Governor Tom Corbett has announced that the Marcellus Shale Impact Fees imposed pursuant to Act 13 have risen to more than $400 million during the past two years.  Under Act 13 the majority of the money goes to counties and local governments, with the biggest beneficiaries understandably being those counties with the largest number of unconventional wells. … Read On

Trial Court Finds Mandamus Action Proper Means to Enforce OOR Final Determination Under Current Right-To-Know Law

Judge Terrence R. Nealon of the Lackawanna County Court of Common Pleas issued a decision on February 7, 2013 in Ledcke v. County of Lackawanna, No. 12 CV 6701, holding that a requester seeking to enforce a Final Determination of the OOR should do so by a Complaint in Mandamus or, possibly a motion for civil contempt. … Read On

Philadelphia Trial Court Holds that Metadata is a Public Record

A trial court in Philadelphia has concluded that metadata is subject to public disclosure under Pennsylvania’s Right-to-Know Law (RTKL).  Scott v. Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (Philadelphia C.C.P., 8/3/2012).  In that court’s opinion, an agency must honor a request to provide an electronic document in the format in which the document was originally created. Metadata is “information that provides information about other data.” … Read On

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