CHANGES IN THE LAW AND EXTENDED DEADLINES

 

Inside this Edition:

ELECTION UPDATE

– Twelve States and Puerto Rico Have Now Postponed Primary Elections in Response to COVID-19; Vote-By-Mail Expands; Signature Gathering Requirements Adjusted

– Impact on FEC Reporting

BUSINESS IMPACTS

– Maryland Extends State Licenses and Registrations

– Non-Essential Businesses Shut Down and Stay at Home Orders Issued Throughout the Country

FEC UPDATE

– FEC Office Closed to Visitors; Agency Remains Open and Operational with Employees Directed to Telework

IRS UPDATE

LOBBYING UPDATE 

 

ELECTION UPDATE

Twelve States and Puerto Rico Have Now Postponed Primary Elections in Response to COVID-19; Vote-By-Mail Expands; Signature Gathering Requirements Adjusted

As of March 26, primary elections were postponed, or voting periods extended, in Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Ohio, Puerto Rico, and Rhode Island. Pennsylvania is expected to delay its primary that is currently scheduled for April 28 until June 2. Pennsylvania’s legislature passed a measure delaying the election. Governor Wolf is expected to sign the measure into law this week.

Rescheduled primary elections are only the beginning of the election law changes we are starting to see. States that have yet to hold their primary election continue to expand options for voting-by-mail and absentee ballots. For example, Alaska has moved entirely to vote-by-mail and extended the voting deadline to April 10. Similarly, Indiana announced on Wednesday the state would mail absentee-ballot applications for its June 2 primary to all registered voters. In Wisconsin, election officials have decided to move forward with its primary election on April 7 but re-opened voter registration to allow voters to request an absentee ballot until April 2. Wisconsin has no-excuse absentee voting and intends to have curbside in-person voting on election day. Ohio is also now allowing all voters to cast votes by mail. Further, Texas and Arizona are now actively considering options for expanding vote by mail and local officials in Virginia have asked the Virginia Department of Elections to cancel all in-person voting for May and June elections to protect poll workers and the general public.

While these vote-by-mail contingency plans may reduce the health risks of COVID-19, some drawbacks include increased costs, increased risk of logistical problems and voter fraud, and reduced turnout among voters who move frequently or lack a mailing address. The federal government has stepped in to provide some financial assistance. The $2 trillion stimulus agreement passed by the Senate Wednesday evening includes $400 million for election assistance for states. The money will be distributed through the Election Assistance Commission, and the funds will be used to support mail-in voting, expand early voting and online registration, and provide additional voting facilities and more poll workers to increase voter safety. States will be required to report back to the EAC on how they plan to spend the money to prevent, prepare for, and respond to COVID-19.

Ballot access requirements have also been impacted. New York and Oklahoma suspended their signature circulator requirements for candidates to qualify for the ballot in their respective states. Just yesterday, Holtzman Vogel Josefiak Torchinsky represented a Virginia candidate for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate and secured a preliminary injunction reducing the number signatures the candidate was required to collect to obtain ballot access.

We continue to monitor developments in each state to keep you apprised of any additional changes.

Impact on FEC Reporting

The FEC announced that affected campaigns may continue to accept primary contributions until the date of their rescheduled elections. Further, the FEC has adjusted the reporting dates and deadlines for pre-election reports, and 48-Hour Notices. The reporting deadlines for Congressional pre-primary reports and 48-Hour Notices window for these states are as follows:

 State

Election date

Close of books

Filing deadline

   48-Hour Notices
(candidates only)

 
Alabama Runoff

Alaska Primary

Connecticut Primary

Delaware Primary

Georgia Primary

Indiana Primary

Kentucky Primary

Louisiana Primary

Maryland Primary

Mississippi Runoff

Ohio Primary

Puerto Rico Primary

Rhode Island Primary

07/14/2020

08/18/2020

08/11/2020

09/15/2020

05/19/2020

06/02/2020

06/23/2020

07/17/2020

06/02/2020

06/23/2020

06/02/2020

06/07/2020

09/08/2020

06/24/2020

07/29/2020

07/22/2020

08/26/2020

04/29/2020

05/13/2020

06/03/2020

06/27/2020

05/13/2020

06/03/2020

05/13/2020

05/18/2020

08/19/2020

07/02/2020

08/06/2020

07/30/2020

09/03/2020

05/07/2020

05/21/2020

06/11/2020

07/05/2020

05/18/2020

06/11/2020

05/21/2020

05/26/2020

08/27/2020

06/25/2020 – 07/11/2020

07/30/2020 – 08/15/2020

07/23/2020 – 08/08/2020

08/27/2020 – 09/12/2020

04/30/2020 – 05/16/2020

05/14/2020 – 05/30/2020

06/04/2020 – 06/20/2020

06/28/2020 – 07/14/2020

05/14/2020 – 05/30/2020

06/04/2020 – 06/20/2020

05/14/2020 – 05/30/2020

05/19/2020 – 06/04/2020

08/20/2020 – 09/05/2020

 
         

*At this time, only the presidential primary elections have been rescheduled in Alaska, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, and Rhode Island; the Congressional primary dates have not been changed.

If you have any questions about how these changes potentially impact you, please contact us.

BUSINESS IMPACTS

Maryland Extends State Licenses and Registrations

On March 12, Maryland issued an order extending state licenses and registrations until 30 days after the State of Emergency and catastrophic health emergency is terminated in the state. The extension applies to registrations for charitable organizations, professional solicitors, fundraising counsels, and public safety solicitors due during the period. The Secretary of State clarified that the order only impacts registration due dates from March 12 until the State of Emergency and catastrophic health emergency is terminated. Any registrations that were due before March 11 and not filed are delinquent.

Non-Essential Businesses Shut Down and Stay at Home Orders Issued Throughout the Country

As of March 26, at least 28 states and the District of Columbia have enacted stay-at-home orders or other policies ordering “non-essential” businesses to shut down or limit activities. The scope and details of the orders vary from state to state. Each business must carefully review its state’s order to determine whether and how the mandated restrictions apply. Under most orders, businesses engaged primarily in political activities are deemed “non-essential.”

The relevant orders for the District of Columbia, Virginia, and Maryland are linked here. If you need assistance determining whether your business is essential under the order(s) in place in your jurisdiction, please contact us.

FEC UPDATE

FEC Office Closed to Visitors; Agency Remains Open and Operational with Employees Directed to Telework

On March 24, the FEC updated its previous announcement about its operational status. The agency closed its office to visitors and has now directed its employees to telework. The agency states that most agency operations continue to be unaffected. It is continuing to delay the processing of materials submitted by mail. The FEC’s website and electronic filing systems remain online and it encourages users to send materials electronically and contact staff electronically or by phone. Any materials submitted to the agency only by mail will be deemed received within 24 hours after the agency resumes normal mail operations. Agency staff continue to process materials submitted electronically, including campaign finance reports, enforcement complaints, and advisory opinion requests. April Quarterly reports remain due on April 15, 2020.

IRS UPDATE

On March 20, the Treasury Department and IRS announced that the tax filings and payments for all federal income taxes due on April 15, 2020, regardless of amount, will now be due on July 15, 2020. The IRS issued guidance clarifying that this delay includes IRS Form 1120-POL (Income Tax Return for Certain Political Organizations), originally due on April 15. However, the delay does not include Form 990 (Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax) which is due on May 15, 2020. Accordingly, you should plan to file any required Form 990 by May 15. The standard six-month extension is available for this filing.

Filers should remain aware of tax filing deadlines in your own individual state. As of March 25, over ten states had made no changes to its state tax filing deadlines. Further, not every state revised its filing deadlines in accordance with the federal deadlines. Idaho, for example, extended its tax filing deadline to June 15.

LOBBYING UPDATE

As of March 26, filing deadlines for federal Lobbying Disclosure Act registrants have not been moved. The next LDA reports are due April 20, 2020. We continue to monitor developments in this area to remain apprised of any additional changes.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this document is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any matter. The material may not reflect the most current legal developments and the content and interpretation of the law addressed herein is subject to revision. The transmission and receipt of this document, in whole or in part, does not constitute or create a lawyer-client relationship between HVJT and any recipient. Do not act or refrain from acting upon this information without seeking professional legal counsel. We disclaim all liability in respect to actions taken or not taken based on any or all the contents of this document to the fullest extent permitted by law. If you have questions about any of the information contained in the document, you should contact us so that we can review the facts associated with your particular situation.   

 



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