Governmental Operations

Following its predictable loss before the South Dakota Supreme Court, South Dakota is expected to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to rule that its law requiring out-of-state retailers to collect sales tax is constitutional. Doing so will require the U.S. Supreme Court to take the unusual step of overruling precedent.  

In Quill Corp. v. North Dakota, decided in 1992, the Supreme Court held that states cannot require retailers with no in-state physical presence to collect sales tax.

Chapter 8 of The Book of the States 2017 contains the following articles and tables:

A federal district judge in Texas has invalidated Obama overtime regulations which would have made it more likely states and local governments would have had to pay more employees overtime.

Per the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), executive, administrative, and professional “white collar” employees do not have to be paid overtime if they work more than 40 hours a week. Per Department of Labor (DOL) regulations, adopted shortly after the FLSA was adopted in 1938, employees must perform specific duties and earn a certain salary to be exempt from overtime as white collar employees.

On May 23, 2016, DOL issued final rules nearly doubling the previous salary level test for white collar employees from $455 per week, or $23,660 per year, to $913 per week, or $47,476 per year. The rules also automatically update the salary level every three years for white collar employees.

In Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Inc. v. Comer the Supreme Court held 7-2 that Missouri violated Trinity Lutheran Church’s free exercise of religion rights when it refused, on the basis of religion, to award the Church a grant to resurface its playground with recycled tires.

Trinity’s preschool ranked fifth among 44 applicants to receive a grant from Missouri’s Scrap Tire Program. Missouri’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR) informed the preschool it didn’t receive a grant because Missouri’s constitution prohibits public funds from being used “directly or indirectly, in aid of any church, sect, or denomination of religion.” Trinity sued the DNR claiming it violated the Church’s First Amendment free exercise of religion rights.

States and local governments don’t particularly care that trademarks aren’t government speech. But they do care about the breadth of the government speech doctrine because government speech is not protected by the First Amendment (meaning governments can say what they want and exclude messages they disagree with).

One small caveat for state legislature: most states have adopted the Model State Trademark Act, which bars state trademark registration on the same basis as Section 2(1) of the Lanham Act, discussed below. 

In a unanimous opinion, in which Justice Gorsuch participated, in Town of Chester v. Laroe Estates the Supreme Court held that an intervenor must possess Article III standing to intervene in a lawsuit as a matter of right if he or she wishes to pursue relief not requested by the plaintiff. The State and Local Legal Center (SLLC) filed an amicus brief in this case supporting the Town of Chester.  

Steven Sherman sued the Town of Chester alleging an unconstitutional taking as the town “obstructed his plans” to build a subdivision. Laroe Estates paid $2.5 million to Sherman for the property while Sherman went through the regulatory process. Laroe Estates sought to intervene in the lawsuit suit.

In a unanimous opinion, in which Justice Gorsuch participated, in Town of Chester v. Laroe Estates the Supreme Court held that an intervenor must possess Article III standing to intervene in a lawsuit as a matter of right if he or she wishes to pursue relief not requested by the plaintiff. The State and Local Legal Center (SLLC) filed an amicus brief in this case supporting the Town of Chester.  

Steven Sherman sued the Town of Chester alleging an unconstitutional taking as the town “obstructed his plans” to build a subdivision. Laroe Estates paid $2.5 million to Sherman for the property while Sherman went through the regulatory process. Laroe Estates sought to intervene in the lawsuit suit.

The Seventh Circuit has become the first federal circuit court of appeals to rule that employees may bring sexual orientation discrimination claims under Title VII. This case directly affects state and local governments in their capacity as employers in Indiana, Illinois, and Wisconsin.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 makes it unlawful for employers to discriminate on the basis of a person’s “race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.”

Kimberly Hively is openly lesbian. She sued Ivy Tech Community College where she taught as a part-time, adjunct professor. She applied for at least six full-time positions between 2009 and 2014, didn’t receive any of them, and in July 2014 her part-time contract was not renewed. She believes her sexual orientation is the reason.  

Prevailing wage laws are created by state governments or local municipalities to set a rate of pay that is thought to be standard for a labor group contracted to do public-sector projects in that area. Twenty-nine states currently have prevailing wage laws. Since 2015, three states have repealed their laws and a number of states are considering repeal this year. 

Prevailing wage laws are laws created by state governments or local municipalities to set a rate of pay that is thought to be standard for a labor group contracted to do public-sector projects in that area. The standard rate of pay is oftentimes determined by analyzing local wage data and identifying the median or average rate of pay for a labor group or project.Twenty-nine states currently have prevailing wage laws.

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