LEGAL NEWS: TRENDING TOPICS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT
In our April 2018 Barton in Brief newsletter we wrote about the enactment by the NYC City Council of 11 separate bills designed to provide further protection for employees when it comes to sexual harassment in the workplace. Mayor De Blasio signed the bills into law, which apply to nearly all employers in New York City. Governor Cuomo and the State Legislature have followed-suit by incorporating into the 2018-2019 State Budget amendments to the State Labor Law which closely mirror the City’s new law. The State’s action applies to nearly all employers throughout the State of New York and encompasses sweeping changes to the rules prohibiting sexual harassment. Our synopsis of the key provisions:
- Similar to the City ordinance, the State amendments will require all employers, regardless of their size, to provide sexual harassment training, annually, to all employees, from the CEO on down.
- Employers must provide all employees with a written non-harassment policy.
- Employers must develop and publish a standard complaint form to be used by employees.
- Employees must be informed, in writing, of all available forums for adjudicating sexual harassment complaints (e.g., EEOC, NYS Division of Human Rights, etc.).
California’s Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 is the most far-reaching attempt at data protection since HIPAA. It’s at the same time more, and less, than it appears. Regardless, it will change the privacy landscape in the US for years and serve as a model for states and will also provide work for lawyers and IT consultants for a long time. The haste in which it was drafted, though, creates exemptions and ambiguities that will foment considerable uncertainty and a number of disputes.
Manhattan is known for its robust and cosmopolitan real estate market. Recently, there have been a number of critical tax law changes that could have a tremendous impact on Manhattan real estate and its retail sector by affecting the viability of traditional brick and mortar stores and changing the dynamics of lease payments due to landlords.
Regarding the retail sector, NYC has recognized its substantial shopping and retail industry and duly collects its share of revenue via the Commercial Rent Tax (“CRT”). The CRT, first introduced in 1963, is a tax collected by NYC from tenants who occupy or use a property for commercial activity in Manhattan, south of 96th Street and north of Murray Street. As it stands, the CRT applies an effective tax rate of 3.9% to businesses located in the aforementioned zone that pay at least $250,000 in annualized base rent.
According to press reports, the President has decided to rely on a bill pending in Congress to resolve the issues regarding investment from China in technology and other businesses in the US. The bill is the Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act,” known as FIRRMA. Most observers believe that Congress will enact FIRRMA this year. As proposed, FIRRMA will govern a very broad swath of transactions between domestic and foreign businesses from all sources, not only inbound investment from China.
FIRRMA grants significant additional authority to the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), the existing interagency body that regulates inbound foreign investment based on nexus with U.S. national security. The existing regime relies on the filing with CFIUS of voluntary notices by the parties to an inbound investment transaction that may affect U.S. national security. CFIUS reviews the notices to determine whether further investigation is required and whether to recommend that the President block the transaction. If the parties have failed to file and receive clearance, CFIUS has the legal authority to cancel their transaction.
An estimated $8.5 billion was spent on legal cannabis in the United States last year. However, even this amount is a drop in the bucket compared to projections for the next several years. Those projections range from a 'low' of $23.4 billion to as much as $44.4 billion by the year 2022 if the full economic impact of the marijuana industry is factored into the calculation. Much like lotteries have become for cash strapped states, cannabis and hemp sales, on a taxable basis, are equally a potentially huge revenue source for years to come. Not surprisingly then some 20 states have legalized marijuana for medical use, while another 9 states and Washington, D.C., now allow it for recreational purposes too. Additional states are also currently considering legislation for legalization of cannabis, at least for medical use, as well as industrial hemp production. With polls showing that some two-thirds of Americans believe marijuana use should be decriminalized, the move, at least at the state level, towards its legalization is not particularly surprising. Correspondingly, more members of Congress have moved towards supporting "states’ rights" for marijuana legalization.