Tag Archives: Brad A. Molotsky

COVID-19: NJ updates its Moratorium on Residential Utilities and their ability to pursue Non-Payment

Last week, NJ updated its guidance on COVID-19 related charges for most utilities in Executive Order 190.

Water, Gas, and Electricity:

No household may have its electricity, gas service, or water service shut off for nonpayment. This moratorium on utility shutoffs is extended to at least March 15, 2021 and applies to all residential gas, electric and water utilities, both public and private.

If there is any customer whose service has been disconnected since March 16, 2020, their service must be reconnected.

In addition, utilities will not be charging late fees nor fees to reconnect services that have been disconnected.

Although utility service shutoffs are still suspended, customers are still encouraged to set up payment plans with their utilities so they can begin paying their bills, if they are able, over a period of time.

According to NJ State published information on line, if you are struggling to pay your utility bills, contact your utility company about assistance programs and payment plans, or visit BPU’s “Assistance Programs” page for information about programs that can help.

Note: For any questions about your service, first contact your utility company. A list of public gas and electricity utility company phone numbers is available here.

If you are unable to resolve an issue with your utility company, you should contact BPU’s Customer Assistance team by filling out this online form, or by calling (800) 624-0241 and leaving a voicemail.

Phone and Internet:

No cable or telecommunications provider that provides residential internet and voice services to New Jersey residents shall terminate these services due to nonpayment before November 15.

After November 15, cable and telecommunications providers are required to enroll customers with an already existing account in an interest free payment plan of at least 12 equal monthly installments, including the balance already due, prior to disconnecting the customers service.

For households with school-age children who need Internet connectivity for remote-learning, Internet shutoffs will not be permitted through March 15, 2021. If a household experiences a change of circumstances where school age children will be using their home Internet service for school, the cable and telecommunications company will be required to reconnect that Internet service.

Source: Executive Order No. 190

Duane Morris has created a COVID-19 Strategy Team to help organizations plan, respond to and address this fast-moving situation. Contact your Duane Morris attorney for more information. Prior Alerts on the topic are available on the team’s webpage.

If you have any questions about this post, please contact Brad A. Molotsky, Elizabeth Mincer, Paul Josephson, Matthew LoBello or the attorney in the firm with whom you are regularly in contact.

Be well and stay safe.

COVID-19: NJ announces updated COVID era Sports rules and regulations

As of last week, NJ organized sports activities can resume.

As of October 12, no-contact practices, contact practices, and competitions for sports defined as “Low Risk”, “Medium Risk”, and “High Risk” are permitted in both outdoor and indoor settingsLow-risk, non-contact sports include golf and tennis. Medium- and high-risk sports include baseball, softball, soccer, basketball, football hockey, judo, boxing, karate, wrestling, rugby, and group dance.

All indoor practices and competitions are limited to 25% of the room capacity or 25 people, whichever is fewer. However, if the number of individuals who are necessary for practice or competition, such as players, coaches, and referees, exceeds 25, the practice or competition may proceed if no unnecessary individuals such as spectators are present.

Even if this exception applies, the number of individuals at the practice or competition cannot exceed 25% of the capacity of the room, and such limit cannot exceed 150 persons.

Outdoor competitions or tournaments must abide by the limit on outdoor gatherings, which is currently limited to 500 people.

Facilities and participants must also abide by a number of health and safety protocols outlined in the Department of Health’s “Guidance for Sports Activities,” such as screenings for athletes, coaches, and staff; limitations on equipment sharing; and requirements for disinfecting and sanitizing surfaces and equipment.

Staff, parents, guardians, and visitors are required to wear face coverings at practices and games. Athletes are encouraged to wear masks during downtime, but not during physical activity.

The Department of Health’s guidance also includes further details on which sports are defined in which category, how to create a sports program preparation plan, how to prepare a facility for sports practices, how to conduct sports practices, and how to prepare for games and tournaments.

Fall School Sports Season

Sports under the jurisdiction of the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) or the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) must also abide by those associations’ rules.

The final determination on the fall high school sports seasons will be made by the NJSIAA, and school districts will make the ultimate decision on whether teams will resume competition.

Under the NJSIAA’s current plan, competition may start September 28 for girls tennis and on October 1 for all other sports except football, which will kick off its season on October 2.

Regular seasons will conclude on October 23 for girl’s tennis, November 7 for football, and November 12 for all other fall sports. Limited postseason play will run from October 24 through October 31 for girls tennis, and November 13 through November 22 for all other sports.

Schools that do not participate in the postseason may continue to play until November 22, with the exception being Thanksgiving football games. These are permissible after November 22, at each school’s discretion. No other fall sports competition will be allowed after November 22.

For additional information and updates, refer to theNJSIAA’s COVID-19 alert page.

NOTE: A student-athlete’s ability to participate with their team will not be altered in any way – regardless of whether they participate in remote-learning or in-person instruction.

A new law waives the requirement to complete an annual pre-participation physical examination for any student-athlete enrolled in grade six to 12 who either completed a physical examination during the 2019-2020 school year or completed a physical examination that allowed the student to participate on a school-sponsored interscholastic or intramural athletic team or squad during the 2019-2020 school year.

A student-athlete who has not completed a physical examination within 365 days prior to the first day of official practice in the athletic season is permitted to participate on a school-sponsored athletic team provided they complete the physical examination before the end of the athletic season.

Professional Sports

Professional sports teams which train or play in New Jersey can practice and engage in games or matches, if their leagues resume competition.

The State has been in constant discussions with these teams about the protocols they will have in place to protect the health and safety of the players, coaches, and team personnel – including facilities where proper sanitation and hygiene practices can be readily maintained.

Source: Executive Order No. 148Executive Order No. 149Guidance for Sports ActivitiesExecutive Order No. 161Executive Order No. 163https://nj.gov/governor/news/news/562020/approved/20200812b.shtmlExecutive Order No. 187

Duane Morris has created a COVID-19 Strategy Team to help organizations plan, respond to and address this fast-moving situation. Contact your Duane Morris attorney for more information. Prior Alerts on the topic are available on the team’s webpage.

If you have any questions about this post, please contact Brad A. Molotsky, Elizabeth Mincer, Paul Josephson, Matthew LoBello or the attorney in the firm with whom you are regularly in contact.

Be well and stay safe.

COVID-19: NJ announces $112M of grant funds for small businesses, restaurants and families under the CARES Act

Earlier today, October 13, 2020, Gov. Phil Murphy announced plans to distribute $112 Million of the state’s CARES Act money via grants to small businesses and struggling families.

$70 million will be distributed by the state’s Economic Development Authority Small Business Emergency Assistance Grant Program:

$35 million to the food service industry (places defined as “food services and drinking places”);

$15 million to microbusinesses (those with five employees or fewer);

$20 million to replenish the EDA’s existing Small Business Emergency Grant program;

Other grants include:

$10 million to add to the EDA’s PPE program, which helps small business owners purchase PPE;

$15 million to support renters in the Department of Community Affairs Rental Assistance Program;

$5 million to food banks and other hunger relief efforts to help families battling food insecurity;

$12 million for the Department of Human Services’ new Housing Assistance Program, which provide rental or mortgage assistance payments on behalf of eligible households that have suffered a financial hardship.

The source of funds is the $2.4 Billion the state received in money from the CARES Act.

By way of background, the Small Business Emergency Assistance Grant Program provides grants to small businesses impacted by the pandemic. To date, over 19,000 small businesses have benefited from the program. Phase 3 of the Grant Program expands eligibility to any business with 50 or fewer full-time equivalent employees and increases the amount of funding businesses can receive.

Duane Morris has created a COVID-19 Strategy Team to help organizations plan, respond to and address this fast-moving situation. Contact your Duane Morris attorney for more information. Prior Alerts on the topic are available on the team’s webpage.

If you have any questions about this post, please contact Brad A. Molotsky, Elizabeth Mincer, Matthew LoBello or the attorney in the firm with whom you are regularly in contact.

Be well and stay safe.

 

COVID-19: NJ HMFA provides Small Landlord Emergency Grant availability for COVID-19 Impact – Round 2 Funding

Earlier this morning on 9-29-20, the New Jersey Housing Mortgage and Finance Agency (NJHMFA) announced the expansion and reopening of its Small Landlord Emergency Grant (SLEG) Program to assist vulnerable renters across NJ by covering their missed rent from April through July 2020.

The program will reopen today, Monday, September 28th, at noon and will run until Tuesday, October 13th at 4:00 p.m.

NJHMFA developed the SLEG Program to reimburse small landlords for missed or reduced rent payments between April 2020 and July 2020 due to COVID-19. Landlords approved for a grant must forgive any back rent or late fees incurred by their tenants.

“Since April, New Jersey landlords have filed 30,000 eviction cases in Landlord-Tenant court. Although Governor Murphy has enacted an eviction moratorium to protect residents from being locked out of their homes for nonpayment of rent, this alarming number demonstrates that many New Jerseyans are struggling to pay rent,” said Charles A. Richman, Executive Director of New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency. “Our goal with the SLEG Program is to mitigate hardship for as many landlords and tenants as possible in the current economic crisis. To this end, we have made some small but significant adjustments to the program to increase both eligibility and accessibility. Not only will we reach more renters in need, but we have also removed some of the barriers for landlords to apply.”

To be eligible for the 2nd round of the SLEG Program:

1. Applicants must own a residential property in New Jersey with 3 to 30 rental units;

2. Applicants must be registered with the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs’ (DCA) Bureau of Housing Inspection;

3. The property must not be a seasonal or vacation rental property;

4. The property must have at least one non-vacant rental unit impacted by COVID-19 between April and July 2020;

5. The property must have low-to-moderate income rent levels.

$15 million in CARES Act funding has been allocated to fund the first and second rounds of the SLEG Program.

All completed eligible applications will be randomly sorted by computer to give each applicant an equal chance of being funded. Grant funding will be allocated on a case-by-case basis, based on the number of COVID-impacted units and the amount of missed rent. A list of all successful landlord applicants will be posted to the NJHMFA website, and letters will be sent to all tenants of awarded landlords.

There are a range of tools available on NJHMFA’s website to assist property owners in preparing their applications. These include an application checklist, an annotated application with sample answers, and a Frequently Asked Questions list.

Duane Morris has created a COVID-19 Strategy Team to help organizations plan, respond to and address this fast-moving situation. Contact your Duane Morris attorney for more information. Prior Alerts on the topic are available on the team’s webpage.

If you have any questions about this post, please contact Brad A. Molotsky, Elizabeth Mincer, Matthew LoBello or the attorney in the firm with whom you are regularly in contact.

Be well and stay safe.

NJ enacts broad sweeping Environmental Justice Bill – S232 – ESG Focused

On September 18, Governor Murphy signed into law S232 / A2212 (Singleton / Weinberg / Ruiz / McKeon / Vainieri Huttle / Timberlake), which requires the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) to consider the cumulative impacts of locating new power plants or major manufacturing facilities in certain lower-income areas.

Per the press release announcing the Bill signing, S2322 is intended to tackle the complex issue of assuring a healthy environment in certain urban communities.

The Bill requires the NJDEP to evaluate the environmental and public health impacts of certain facilities on overburdened communities when reviewing certain permit applications. New Jersey is the first state in the nation to require mandatory permit denials if an environmental justice analysis determines a new facility will have a disproportionately negative impact on overburdened communities.
 
The bill defines an overburdened community as any community where 35% of the households qualify as low-income according to the U.S. Census, 40% of households are minority, or 40%of households have limited English proficiency. There are approximately 310 municipalities with populations totaling approximately 4,489,000 that have overburdened communities within their municipalities.
 
The Bill requires the DEP to evaluate the environmental and public health impacts of the following facilities on overburdened communities when reviewing the following permit applications:
  1. Major sources of air pollution (i.e., gas fired power plants and cogeneration facilities);
  2. Resource recovery facilities or incinerators; sludge processing facilities;
  3. Sewage treatment plants with a capacity of more than 50 Million gallons per day;
  4. Transfer stations or solid waste facilities;
  5. Recycling facilities that receive at least 100 tons of recyclable material per day;
  6. Scrap metal facilities;
  7. Landfills; and
  8. Medical waste incinerators, except those attendant to hospitals and universities.
“For decades, residents living in overburdened communities have had their lives routinely and inconveniently interrupted by the toxic facilities located in their neighborhoods,”  said Senator Troy Singleton. “Their daily routines have been intertwined with the unpleasant smells of industry, unsightly smoke from pollution, and untimely visits to the emergency room for asthma and other respiratory ailments. Now, after years of having no say, these communities will finally have a voice in the siting of these industries. After years of waiting for action, this long overdue law will bring them the environmental justice that they deserve.” 
 
“As a statewide and regional hub of industry, commerce, innovation and energy, the impact of the legacy of environmental contamination is real and present in New Jersey. This historic legislation is a model to show the rest of the Country how to ensure that communities are protected and how by utilizing both activism and leadership simultaneously, you can truly change the status quo,” said Mayor Ras J. Baraka, City of Newark. “I applaud the leadership of our State policymakers for making this law come to fruition, and we give our thanks to Governor Murphy for making environmental justice central to his administration.”
 
To read the text of the Governor’s press release – click here  https://t.e2ma.net/message/z8iqpd/rq338ni
 

Duane Morris has an Environmental Team to help organizations and individuals plan, respond to and address their environmental contracting, due diligence, compliance and permitting issues. Contact your Duane Morris attorney for more information. Prior Alerts on the topic are available on the team’s webpage.

If you have any questions about this post, please contact Brad A. Molotsky, Lori Mills, Seth Cooley, Lindsay Ann Brown or the attorney in the firm with whom you are regularly in contact.

Be well and stay safe.

COVID-19: The IRS adds additional forms that can be signed electronically on or before 12-31-2020 in connection with the Pandemic

On August 28, the IRS announced that it would temporarily allow the use of digital signatures on certain forms that cannot be filed electronically. As of September 11, 2020, they added several more forms to that list.

According to the NJ Business and Industry Association, the IRS made this decision to help protect the health of taxpayers and tax professionals during the COVID-19 pandemic. The permission to file electronically is intended to reduce in-person contact and lessen the risk to taxpayers and tax professionals, allowing both groups to work remotely to timely file forms.

The IRS added the following forms to the list of those being accepted digitally:

Form 706, U.S. Estate (and Generation-Skipping Transfer) Tax Return;
Form 706-NA, U.S. Estate (and Generation-Skipping Transfer) Tax Return;
Form 709, U.S. Gift (and Generation-Skipping Transfer) Tax Return;
Form 1120-ND, Return for Nuclear Decommissioning Funds and Certain Related Persons;
Form 3520, Annual Return To Report Transactions With Foreign Trusts and Receipt of Certain Foreign Gifts; and
Form 3520-A, Annual Information Return of Foreign Trust With a U.S. Owner.
The forms are available at IRS.gov and through tax professional’s software products. These forms cannot be e-filed and generally are printed and mailed.

Per the BIA, the below list was announced August 28, and all of these forms can be submitted with digital signatures if mailed by or on December 31, 2020:

Form 3115, Application for Change in Accounting Method;
Form 8832, Entity Classification Election;
Form 8802, Application for U.S. Residency Certification;
Form 1066, U.S. Income Tax Return for Real Estate Mortgage Investment Conduit;
Form 1120-RIC, U.S. Income Tax Return For Regulated Investment Companies;
Form 1120-C, U.S. Income Tax Return for Cooperative Associations;
Form 1120-REIT, U.S. Income Tax Return for Real Estate Investment Trusts;
Form 1120-L, U.S. Life Insurance Company Income Tax Return;
Form 1120-PC, U.S. Property and Casualty Insurance Company Income Tax Return; and
Form 8453 series, Form 8878 series, and Form 8879 series regarding IRS e-file Signature Authorization Forms.

Duane Morris has created a COVID-19 Strategy Team to help organizations plan, respond to and address this fast-moving situation. Contact your Duane Morris attorney for more information. Prior Alerts on the topic are available on the team’s webpage.

If you have any questions about this post, please contact Michael Gillen (Head of TAG Group), Brad A. Molotsky, Elizabeth Mincer or the attorney in the firm with whom you are regularly in contact.

Be well and stay safe.

 

COVID-19: PA to allow 50% indoor dining capability effective 9-21-2020

Earlier today on September 8, 2020, Gov. Tom Wolf announced that restaurants in Pennsylvania will be allowed to increase their indoor seating capacity to 50%, effective Sept. 21.

The 25% indoor restriction has been in place since July, 2020.

According to the Philadelphia Business Journal, it is not clear whether Philadelphia County will make the increase to 50% capacity considering it just beginning to reopen indoor dining at 25% on Tuesday following a nearly a six-month closure.

To qualify to be able to open at 50% occupancy, restaurants will be required to self-certify that they comply with all public safety guidelines. The self-certification process is an on line process and will appear in a special database available online. There will also be special branded material, including window clings and other signs, that show certification.

Duane Morris has created a COVID-19 Strategy Team to help organizations plan, respond to and address this fast-moving situation. Contact your Duane Morris attorney for more information. Prior Alerts on the topic are available on the team’s webpage.

If you have any questions about this post, please contact Brad A. Molotsky, Elizabeth Mincer or the attorney in the firm with whom you are regularly in contact.

Be well and stay safe.

COVID-19: FHA Extends Eviction and Foreclosure Moratorium for Homeowners through 12-31-2020

Per HUD, earlier today, on August 28, 2020, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) announced the 3rd extension of its foreclosure and eviction moratorium through December 31, 2020, for homeowners with FHA-insured single family mortgages covered under the Coronavirus Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

This extension provides an additional 4 months of housing security to homeowners. With this 3rd extension, the FHA has now provided more than 9 months of foreclosure and eviction relief to FHA-insured homeowners

The FHA’s Single Family foreclosure and eviction moratorium has been in place since March 18, 2020, and continues to apply to homeowners with FHA-insured Title II Single Family forward and Home Equity Conversion (reverse) mortgages.

The moratorium requires that mortgage servicers:

1. Halt all new foreclosure actions and suspend all foreclosure actions currently in process for FHA-insured single family properties, excluding legally vacant or abandoned properties; and

2. Cease all evictions of persons from FHA-insured single family properties, excluding actions to evict occupants of legally vacant or abandoned properties.

The HUD press release suggested that homeowners with FHA-insured mortgages should continue to make their mortgage payments during the foreclosure and eviction moratorium if they are able to do so, or seek mortgage payment forbearance pursuant to the CARES Act from their mortgage servicer, if needed.

Pursuant to the CARES Act, the FHA requires mortgage servicers to:

1. Offer borrowers with FHA-insured mortgages delayed mortgage payment forbearance when the borrower requests it, with the option to extend the forbearance for up to a year.

2. The FHA does not require a lump sum payment at the end of the forbearance period.

3. Assess borrowers who receive COVID-19 forbearance for its special COVID-19 National Emergency Stand alone Partial Claim before the end of the forbearance period. The COVID-19 National Emergency Standalone Partial Claim puts all deferred mortgage payment amounts owed into a junior lien which is only repaid when the borrower sells the home, refinances the mortgage, or the mortgage is otherwise extinguished.

Duane Morris has created a COVID-19 Strategy Team to help organizations plan, respond to and address this fast-moving situation. Contact your Duane Morris attorney for more information. Prior Alerts on the topic are available on the team’s webpage.

If you have any questions about this post, please contact Brad A. Molotsky, Elizabeth Mincer or the attorney in the firm with whom you are regularly in contact.

Be well and stay safe.

COVID-19: NJ announces reopening of Gyms and Indoor Amusement Facilities – 9-1-20

As of today, August 26, 2020, Governor Murphy announced the reopening of gyms and indoor amusement facilities effective as of September 1, 2020. Reopening will include a 25% of capacity limitation and typical safety protocols including masks, social distancing, one way traffic, etc.

Per a press release from Planet Fitness as reported in NJ Patch, “Fitness centers are critical to the mental, physical and financial health for New Jerseyans, and we are grateful that Governor Murphy has announced that we can reopen with safety protocols in place,” said Craig Benson, who operates 18 Planet Fitness locations in the state. “Throughout the reopening process, we will continue to collaborate with local, county and state health officials to ensure that our members can work out again in a safe, clean, and welcoming environment, and our staff can get back to work.”

With respect to gyms:

  • group fitness classes are to be limited to 1 person per 200 SF of space;
  • logs are to be maintained for members and staff;
  • 6′ of distance between pieces of equipment;
  • required sanitization of equipment; and
  • showers are NOT permitted to be open

Many gyms and eating establishments will look to include some or all of the following in their safety protocols:

◦Limited capacity to comply with social distancing;

◦Advanced air filtration systems with high-grade filters;

◦Masks required at all times;

◦Well-stocked cleaning stations with hand sanitizer;

◦Posters explaining best-health practices displayed throughout the facility or gym; 

◦High-tech electrostatic disinfecting sprayers for the tables and gyms as well as equipment;

◦One-way flow for foot traffic;

◦Temperature checks for staff members at the start of each shift in addition to health questionnaire;

◦Touchless check-in;

◦Cleaning of tables and/or machines before and after each use; and

◦ Having an ample supply of PPE equipment for staff and members including masks and gloves.

Indoor dining and movie theatres are expected to be reopened on or before September 14th.

Duane Morris has created a COVID-19 Strategy Team to help organizations plan, respond to and address this fast-moving situation. Contact your Duane Morris attorney for more information. Prior Alerts on the topic are available on the team’s webpage.

If you have any questions about this post, please contact Brad A. Molotsky, Paul Josephson, Elizabeth Mincer or the attorney in the firm with whom you are regularly in contact.

Be well and stay safe.

Cannabis: Governor Wolf calls on PA Legislature to pass a Recreational Cannabis Bill; $1B of CARES relief

Earlier today, August 25, 2020, Gov. Tom Wolf called on the Pennsylvania Legislature to legalize recreational marijuana and use the tax revenue to help small businesses that have been impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

According to the Philadelphia Business Journal, Gov. Wolf’s proposal on recreational marijuana was part of a package unveiled to spend the $1 billion remaining out of $3.6 billion CARES Act funding. The Governor called for a range of spending that would include $225 million in forgivable loans and grants to small businesses and another $100 million for restaurants and bars, hospitality and leisure businesses that have taken a big hit since March with business closures and occupancy restrictions.

Tax revenue from the sale of recreational marijuana would add to the state’s small business funding and half would go to historically disadvantaged businesses.

While the recreational marijuana legalization was NOT tied to CARES Act funding, Gov. Wolf in the news conference said legalization would add even more money to the programs that Pennsylvania residents and businesses would need to get back on their feet after the Covid-19 hit to the economy.

His proposals for the remaining CARES Act funding would also include paid family and sick leave for all Pennsylvanians while announcing six weeks for all state employees; $225 million more in hazard pay for frontline workers; $10 million to help employers pay for the cost of personal protective equipment and cleaning supplies; and $250 million more in child care investments.

Governor Wolf also wants the alcohol tax to be canceled or reduced for 6 months and also allow bars, restaurants and other hospitality industries to buy alcohol at cost for six months.

Duane Morris has created a COVID-19 Strategy Team to help organizations plan, respond to and address this fast-moving situation. We also have a Cannabis Practice Group that in active in the cannabis regulatory, licensing, IP, real estate and fund raising aspects of the cannabis industry. Contact your Duane Morris attorney for more information. Prior Alerts on the topic are available on the team’s webpage.

If you have any questions about this post, please contact Brad A. Molotsky, Tracy A. Gallegos, Paul Josephson, Seth Goldberg, Elizabeth Mincer or the attorney in the firm with whom you are regularly in contact.

Be well and stay safe