Tag Archives: finance

Minnesota Senate passes increased funding for public defenders

Minnesota Lawyer (subscription required) reports on the bill for public defenders’ funding.  The background of the funding for public defenders is as follows.

In 2008, public defenders were funded through attorney’s registration fees.  The Minnesota Supreme Court upheld this type of funding.  Through this funding, the state Board of Public Defense was able to generate around $1.9 million annually.  This request was reapproved in 2011.

However, in December, the state Board of Public Defense withdrew its request to earmark funding from the attorney registration fee.    This decision came in December, when various committees and group sections of the Minnesota State Board Association removed its support for the petition.

On Tuesday, April 16th, 2013, the state Senate passed a judiciary funding bill that increases funding for public defenders.  The bill provides $5 million for increased employee salary and benefits for public defenders.  The bill also provides $5.6 million for new public defenders positions that will reduce caseloads.  The Senate bill was passed by 47-18 votes.

The Senate Judiciary Finance Division Chairman Ron Latz (DFL-St. Louis Park) stated that the bill helps alleviate a public defender system that is “overworked, overburdened, [and] has some of the biggest caseloads in the country.”

via Minnesota Senate passes increased funding for public defenders | Minnesota Lawyer.

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Filed under attorneys, courts, District Court, employment, Pending Legislation, wage

Campaign donation issue reopened

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court agreed to hear McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, 12-536.   The gist of this case deals with the constitutionality of the two-year ceilings that federal law sets on what an individual can give during a campaign for the presidency or Congress, in donations to candidates, to political parties, or to other political committees.

The Supreme Court did not explicitly promise whether it would reconsider its decision in Buckley v. Valeo (1976).  Since Buckley, the government had more leeway to control contributions to candidates or political organizations than over spending by candidates or by independent political activists.

In 2010, the Supreme Court decided a hotly controversial decision in Citizens United v. FEC.  In Citizens United, the Supreme Court declared unconstitutional any limit on spending during federal campaigns by corporations or labor unions, so long as they spent the money independently of a candidate or candidate organization.

In McCutcheon, McCutcheon wants to be able to give more contributions than the two-year overall limits.  McCutcheon’s contributions, if he could go over the limit, would have exceeded the two-year ceiling by $26,200.

Under federal law, the ceiling for the 2011-2012 campaign season was $2,500 per election to any candidate or a candidate’s campaign organization, no more than $30,800 per year to a national political party, no more than $10,000 per year to a state political party, and no more than $5,000 to any other political committee.

The two year ceiling for that same period, which is the issue in this case, is set at $177,000 overall.  That is broken down into $46,200 to a candidate for federal office and $70,800 to non-candidate entities.  The second amount was restricted in that no more than $46,200 could be given to a state party or a non-candidate committee.

via Campaign donation issue reopened : SCOTUSblog.

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Filed under Appellate, civil rights, courts, Judges, legal decision, rules, Supreme Court, union

New Mortgage Loan Regulations

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau issued two regulations that expand the types of mortgage loans subject to federal protections and require creditors to provide loan applicants with written appraisals.  You can access the regulations here.

One of the regulations expands the types of mortgage loans subject to the protections of the Home Ownership and Equity Protections Act HOEPA, which was enacted to address abusive refinancing practices and equity loans with high interest rates or high fees.  HOEPA was amended through the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act to add protections for high-cost mortgages.

Among the changes, the regulation requires borrowers to receive home ownership counseling before obtaining a high-cost mortgage.

The regulation also adds exemptions for three types of loans the CFPB does not believe are as risky: loans to finance initial construction of a house, loans originated and financed by housing finance agencies, and loans from the U.S. Department of Agricultures Rural Housing Service loan program.

The CFPB also issued a rule that would require creditors to provide applicants with free copies of all appraisals and other written valuations and requiring creditors to notify applicants in writing.

The rule is consistent with an amendment to the Equal Credit Opportunity Act. Previously, creditors only had to provide copies of appraisals when applicants requested them.

Creditors are prohibited from charging applicants for copies of appraisals, but may charge for appraisals and other written valuations.

Both rules become effective January 18, 2014.

via Courthouse News Service.

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Filed under civil rights, regulations

Stericycle vs Novotel at NLRB

In Stericycle, Inc., the Board reversed its Novotel rule for dealing with union-backed employment law suits before an election.

At issue is whether union assistance with such suits constitutes an improper grant of benefit that might warrant re-running the election if the union wins. Under Novotel, a union may give employees free legal services to investigate, prepare, and file a lawsuit during the critical period before an election. However, the D.C. Circuit has refused to enforce that rule, prompting the majority in Stericycle to reverse it and conclude that such assistance is objectionable conduct.

The key ruling in the decision, which Members Becker, Hayes, and Pearce joined, is that:

we hold that a union engages in objectionable conduct warranting a second election by financing a lawsuit filed during the narrow time period—known as the “critical period”—between the date of the filing of the representation petition and the date of the election, which States claims under Federal or State wage and hour laws or other similar employment law claims on behalf of employees in the unit.

The Board acknowledged the importance to employees’ collective rights that education about their workplace rights, attorney referrals, and funding for lawsuits provides. But those interests were outweighed by the need to avoid the grant of benefits before an election (Novotel distinguished funding extraneous benefits with funding lawsuits directly related to the workplace problems that lead to the union campaign). The Board also argued that the harm to employees’ collective rights was minimal because of the critical period was only for a limited amount of time. Further, funding a lawsuit before the critical period remains unobjectionable conduct.

The Board, with Liebman, Becker, and Pearce signing on, also tried to define the boundaries of permissible and impermissible assistance.  According to the Board, is is OK for a union during the cirtical period to “inform employees about their rights [under labor and employment laws], assist them in identifying violations, urge them to seek relief, and even refer them to competent counsel [which may file suit during the critical period as long as there is no union funding] without casting into question subsequent election results.”

via Workplace Prof Blog.

 

 

 

 

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Filed under labor, NLRB

8th Cir to hear MN campaign law

From MPR:

A federal appeals court will hear a challenge to Minnesota’s law requiring corporations to disclose their political donations.

A three-judge panel of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the law in May. But in September, the entire court will hear the matter again.

Arguments before the full 8th Circuit will be September 21 in St. Louis

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Filed under Appellate, courts, Minnesota

Campaign Disclosure Law

The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals upholds campaign disclosure law

In a 2-1 decision, the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld a Minnesota campaign finance law that requires extensive disclosure of independent expenditures on behalf of candidates and restricts corporate contributions to state candidates and political parties.

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Filed under legal decision