Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren s.c. Alerts and Updates

Much attention has been paid in recent weeks to President Biden’s infrastructure plan as well as its key sources of funding, including, among other things, raising the corporate tax rate. In the shadow of this legislation, two bills have recently been introduced in the Senate that would take direct aim at current wealth transfer planning techniques. While neither bill is likely to survive in its current form, a recent ruling by the Senate parliamentarian has made imminent estate tax reform more likely. These proposals, their effective dates and the possible timeframe for estate tax reform are discussed below. Typically, to…
Over the last couple of months, we have seen a flurry of guidance impacting employee benefit plans. This issue of Benefits Counselor highlights key legal developments for employers and plan sponsors. GENERAL DEVELOPMENTS President Biden Signs American Rescue Plan Act On March 11, 2021, President Biden signed into law the latest COVID‑19 stimulus package, titled the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). In addition to providing a third round of stimulus checks for individuals, ARPA provides significant funding relief for single employer and multiemployer pension plans, aims to generate additional tax revenue through elimination of certain deductions for executive compensation benefits and provides additional…
Commercial lease disputes come in many different forms. Disputes may relate to payment issues, evictions, CAM calculations, property conditions, surrender obligations, maintenance and repairs, COVID-19 issues, noncompetition, purchase options, hours of operation, bankruptcy and a host of other issues. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. So what happens if you find yourself in a commercial lease dispute? The correct answer is rarely to jump headfirst into litigation. Disputes can often be resolved by exchanging correspondence that outlines each party’s respective legal and factual positions. This correspondence may involve a formal notice of default. In many instances, one party may realize it failed to…
As the COVID-19 vaccine becomes more widely available in the United States, there is rapidly changing guidance at the state and federal levels. Here are a few key issues Wisconsin employers should be aware of this spring related to the COVID-19 pandemic. COVID-19 Vaccinations Beginning April 5, 2021, all individuals in the state of Wisconsin who are 16 and older are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. As of the publication of this alert, Wisconsin had administered nearly 3 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccines, bringing the percentage of Wisconsin residents who have received the vaccine to approximately 31 percent.…
On Wednesday, March 31, 2021, the Wisconsin Supreme Court struck down Governor Tony Evers’ statewide mask mandate. The mask mandate previously applied to all enclosed spaces open to the public within Wisconsin. The Wisconsin Supreme Court said, however, that Governor Evers overstepped his authority by extending the public health emergency without legislative approval, thus making the statewide mask mandate invalid. While the statewide mask mandate is no longer in effect, employers should continue to monitor their local requirements as the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s decision does not affect local municipalities’ ability to institute their own mask mandates. Dane County, Rock County,…
In recent years, there has been growing concern, and regulation, of different chemicals commonly used with many consumer and industrial products sold in the U.S. marketplace. One such group of chemicals gaining increasing scrutiny among federal and state regulators are per- and Polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). PFAS chemicals includes more than 4,000 different chemical compounds and are widely used in everyday products, including stain and water resistant fabrics and carpeting, cleaning products, cookware, paints and fire extinguishing foams. PFAS substances do not easily break down in the environment and have been linked to a number of health problems including cancer, thyroid…
A Jefferson County Judge granted a Temporary Restraining Order to stop the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) from sampling for PFAS at industrial facilities, which the agency initially planned to begin as early as this week. Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce (WMC), the state’s chamber of commerce, is taking legal action in an attempt to stop the DNR’s proposed PFAS sampling program at specific facilities selected by the agency. WMC argues that the DNR does not have authority to test for substances that it does not currently regulate, and that the program does not consider background levels, and could, therefore,…
On March 11, 2021, President Biden signed into law the next wave of COVID-19 relief, titled the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA). While ARPA’s $1.9 trillion in financial stimulus has taken the spotlight, the law also includes several changes that will impact retirement plans, most notably defined benefit pension plans. Funding Shortfall Amortization Extension ARPA permanently extends the shortfall amortization period from seven to 15 years. Additionally, ARPA permits plans to reamortize any previous funding shortfalls over the new 15-year window, which allows plan sponsors to decrease their near-term plan contributions. These changes are effective for the 2022…
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) recently released a list of businesses targeted for PFAS testing. The DNR will sample water effluent at several facilities beginning in April. The list includes 39 industrial facilities, encompassing many of Wisconsin’s largest manufacturers and food producers. PFAS compounds are ubiquitous and likely to exist at low levels on nearly any property with a history of industrial or commercial use. Unlike previous DNR PFAS initiatives, the testing is not voluntary. The DNR is requiring companies to permit sampling and testing for more than 30 PFAS compounds despite the fact that no enforcement standards…
The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, or ARPA, will allow some current and past employees and their dependents to receive fully subsidized COBRA continuation coverage for periods from April 1, 2021 through September 30, 2021 – even if they never elected COBRA or dropped coverage. Here is what employers with group health plans subject to federal COBRA need to know about the new law. The Relief Overview ARPA provides three main areas of relief for affected individuals: (1) free COBRA coverage for “assistance eligible individuals” (AEIs) for periods of coverage from April 1, 2021 through September 30, 2021, with…
On January 21, 2021, President Biden ordered the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to consider whether emergency temporary standards on COVID-19 were necessary and, if so, to issue those standards by March 15, 2021. Days before that deadline, OSHA announced the implementation of a national emphasis program (NEP) focused on increasing OSHA’s enforcement efforts related to COVID-19. OSHA’s Direction on the NEP states that the enforcement efforts will place emphasis on: (1) hazardous conditions that put the largest number of workers at risk; and (2) employers that engage in retaliatory actions against employees who report potential violations of OSHA…
The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, signed into law on March 11, 2021, establishes the “Restaurant Revitalization Fund” (RRF). The RRF earmarks $28.6 billion in grants to restaurants, breweries, bars, caterers and food trucks. The Small Business Administration (SBA) will administer the RRF and provide the grants, which are intended to cover a business’s total pandemic-related revenue losses. Timing Be ready to act fast: The SBA will award grants to eligible entities in the order that applications are received. Like the first round of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), there is expected to be a stampede of applicants when…
(NOTE: This alert has been updated with a revised date for the next eligible group to receive COVID-19 vaccinations in Wisconsin) On March 11, 2021, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) announced the next eligible group for COVID-19 vaccinations. The group, designated Group 1c, extends vaccine eligibility to Wisconsin residents ages 16 and older with certain medical conditions that have a greater risk of severe infection from COVID-19. Such medical conditions include, but are not limited to, asthma, cancer, heart conditions, hypertension or high blood pressure, obesity (body mass index (BMI) of 30-39 kg/m2), overweight (BMI of 25-29 kg/m2),…
On March 11, 2021, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) announced the next eligible group for COVID-19 vaccinations. The group, designated Group 1c, extends vaccine eligibility to Wisconsin residents ages 16 and older with certain medical conditions that have a greater risk of severe infection from COVID-19. Such medical conditions include, but are not limited to, asthma, cancer, heart conditions, hypertension or high blood pressure, obesity (body mass index (BMI) of 30-39 kg/m2), overweight (BMI of 25-29 kg/m2), and Type 1 or 2 diabetes. The full list of medical conditions is available at: https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/covid-19/vaccine-about.htm. Group 1c is more…
Gov. Tony Evers signed Senate Bill 1 into law on February 26, 2021, which increases protection for Wisconsin employers from COVID-19-related civil liability. Specifically, the recently enacted law shields entities from civil liability for the death, injury or damages related to a COVID-19 infection of any individual, employee or patron who may have been infected because of an act or an omission through the entity’s performance of its functions or services. This civil immunity, however, does not extend to an entity’s “reckless or wanton conduct or intentional misconduct.” The law defines entities broadly to include partnerships, corporations, associations, governmental units,…
Millions have been spent on lawsuits over coverage for business losses related to the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting government restrictions, but there is still no clear answer as to whether standard business insurance policies provide coverage to business owners who have suffered staggering, if not fatal, losses over the past year. The doubt over coverage poses a dilemma for a policyholder in Wisconsin who made a claim that was denied by its insurer. Do you file suit and spend tens, perhaps hundreds, of thousands of dollars fighting the coverage battle or can you wait, saving your remaining resources, to determine…