Last year Kinder Morgan, a major energy construction and pipeline company, revealed its plan to construct a pipeline through parts of Georgia and South Carolina. But the company later suspended its efforts following passage of legislation by the Georgia General Assembly placing a moratorium on pipeline construction. The legislature wanted to further consider land use policy and the impact on citizens in the exercise of eminent domain. The South Carolina legislature followed with passage a similar law. It placed a three-year moratorium on “for-profit pipeline companies” exercising eminent domain power. But a ban in concept and perception isn’t always a full ban. Natural gas, for example, is regulated under the federal Natural Gas Act, which trumps state law by giving natural gas companies a carve-out to use eminent domain for the construction of pipelines and facilities. Additionally the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure actually preempt the vast majority of state…       Read More

HBS “Intersection of Law and Business” Newsletter — September 15, 2016

Welcome to the first edition of our HBS newsletter designed specifically to update clients and friends of the firm about changes and trends in law and government that directly impact the worlds of business, finance, healthcare, insurance, technology and all aspects of both private and public entities. Our goal is to provide you with practical and timely updates to keep you abreast of an array of issues. So here goes with our quick look at “the Intersection” as of September 15, 2016:

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With just a few months remaining in the current administration, the IRS is moving quickly to change the manner in which individuals who are gifted or inherit minority ownerships with limited rights within family-owned business and other entities are valued. In recent years such minority ownerships were allowed significant discounted values for gift and estate tax purposes. That was significant in that such transfers ate up less of the $5.45 million currently excluded from these taxes. If you own or assist a closely held company or plan to create a family-owned LLC or LLP (known in Georgia as an LLLP) you might want to consider making moves to understand the implications of this potential new regulation which could have a wide-ranging impact for future estate plans. Brad Coppedge of our Columbus office heads up our Tax Practice group and deals with every aspect of estate planning, including complicated matters utilizing…       Read More

Hospitals may have additional time before they must meet federal requirements to provide          written notice to Medicare patients who are receiving observation services. Congress passed the    Notice of Observation Treatment and Implication for Care Eligibility Act (NOTICE Act) in 2015, effective October 1, 2016. The actual enforcement date may be later in the year or even early next year, depending on the length of the process for final approval of the form. The new law requires specific notice to Medicare patients who may have been in a hospital for several days under observation but not officially admitted. The issue at hand is the fact that patients under observation but not admitted may not qualify for Medicare coverage for their visit. Hospitals are now busily creating protocol to meet the new notification requirements. This is a fluid situation as to the actual effective date. Anyone interested in learning more about…       Read More

Amendments to the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which were announced earlier          this year, will significantly expand the pool of workers eligible for overtime pay—and the new               rules which include government workers will extend overtime pay to over 4 million workers in    its first year of implementation alone. The rule more than doubles the salary threshold that determines coverage for overtime. Under the new rules, any salaried employee earning less than $47,476 annually would be entitled to time-and-a-half for work that exceeds 40 hours per week. The current cutoff for overtime pay is $23,660. The final rule applies to workers in local and state governments as well as employees in the private sector. The Department of Labor offers guidance to state and local governments in “Overtime Final Rule and State and Local Governments,” For more information about compliance, including technologies that can assist in meeting the…       Read More

Bloomberg Technology reports, “The first major regulations governing civilian drone operations in the U.S. are now in place and permit anyone 16 or older to fly for hire if they pass a written knowledge test and background check. They can only fly drones during daylight, within sight, and no higher than 400 feet (122 meters) from the ground.” That comes as no surprise to HBS attorney Elizabeth Wharton who was an early leader in advising clients and members of Georgia’s General Assembly on the regulation of what is likely to become one of the most important emerging technologies for government, higher education, media, agribusiness and a plethora of business interests in the coming years. Bloomberg adds, “Industry officials at a Congressional briefing on Aug. 24 predicted insurance, construction, agriculture and electrical power companies, which have been cautiously exploring applications for unmanned aircraft, would now leap into such operations. The regulations also open…       Read More

Our Government Affairs team includes several attorneys who also provide analysis for local and national news organizations. As the presidential race rounds the corner they explain that the polls could be extra dicey this year. Most political polls are adjusted to reflect past voter turn-out levels for various demographic groups based on age, race, gender, and political affiliation. Most major pollsters are relying on the 2012 election data. If younger voters, African-American, and Hispanic-Latino voters return to the polls at the levels they voted in 2012 or in greater numbers, our team says Hillary Clinton will have the edge. But if independent voters emerge at a higher level and younger voters or African-Americans don’t vote at the same level as 2012, the edge could go to Donald Trump. Regardless they tell us the race will be close and that the polls could be off. In Georgia, at the moment, our…       Read More