This blog provides news, discusses relevant legal issues, and highlights emerging trends in New England municipal law from Preti Flaherty's attorneys who represent cities and towns throughout the region.

Recent Blog Posts

  • What Is the Municipal Liquidity Facility? There is no question that COVID-19 has had a major impact on state and local governments’ revenue and expenses. To what extent it will impact any particular governmental unit will vary depending on its mix of revenue sources. In an effort to address state and local cash flow pressures and tax revenue shortfalls, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (the “Federal Reserve”) and... More
  • Parties Close to Settlement of Voting Rights Case A lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court on July 17, 2020, against the State of Maine and the Cities of Augusta, Portland, and Bangor and the Town of Winslow, alleging violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act on behalf of four visually impaired voters. The aim of the case is to cause the State and municipalities to implement a system which would allow blind voters to vote absentee... More
  • Superior Court Supports Portland’s Home Rule Argument Justice Kennedy of the Cumberland County Superior Court recently ruled in favor of the City of Portland, giving significant deference to a municipality’s interpretation of its own charter. In the case of Fair Elections Portland v. City of Portland, the Court held that in a disputed factual context the judiciary would defer to the City’s determination that a petition that had been circulated for... More
  • State Issues COVID-19 Guidance Document for Reopening Public and Community Buildings As part of Phase 2 of the Restarting Maine's Economy initiative, the State yesterday released guidance on safe reopening of municipal and other government buildings. Read the full COVID-19 Prevention Checklist here.... More
  • State Ceases Enforcement of Marijuana Business Residency Requirement The Office of Marijuana Policy issued a letter on May 11, stating that, “Following the advice of the Office of the Attorney General, DAFS and OMP will cease enforcement of the residency requirement included in the Marijuana Legalization Act and the Adult Use Program Rule.” This decision is issued in response to a lawsuit filed against DAFS, which challenged the constitutionality of the... More
  • NH Governor's Emergency Order Re: Excess Expenditures Under RSA 32:10, the governing body of a municipality may transfer an unexpended balance in one appropriation to another appropriation, provided that the total amount spent for the year shall not exceed the total amount appropriated at Town Meeting. However, RSA 32:11 provides that when "an unusual circumstance arises during the year which makes it necessary to expend money in excess of an... More
  • Crazy Times, Even in the Municipal Bond Market The last few weeks have seen the municipal bond markets feeling the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Today, however, the Bond Buyer reported in its “Daily Briefing” that there was some stabilization last week in the municipal bond market. During the weeks of the worsening of the pandemic, the municipal bond markets saw less investments in municipal bonds and increased sales by holders of... More
  • Maine State Primary Postponed – What to Do About Municipal Meetings and Budgets? With the news that Governor Mills has ordered Maine’s primary election to be postponed until July 14, many towns are facing a dilemma about whether to postpone their own town meetings and elections. For those towns that like to coincide their local secret ballot meetings with the June primary, on top of the already existing health concerns, this is more reason to push local meetings off until... More
  • Are Stay at Home Orders an Unconstitutional Taking? In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, a question some are asking is whether there is a risk that governments will have to deal with claims that they have unconstitutionally taken value from property owners with the various stay at home edicts, closures, and other similar responses to the pandemic. The short answer is that such claims are unlikely to be successful as long as an ordinance and the... More
  • DOL Publishes Required FFCRA Poster and Guidance The federal Department of Labor has released the poster that all covered employers must post to inform them of emergency benefits available under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). The poster can be found here. Municipalities whose employees are principally working from home during this time should plan to circulate it by email on April 1, the effective date of the Act. The... More
  • Maine Legislature Passes COVID-19 Omnibus Bill re Public Meetings, Finance, and Other Municipal Concerns The Maine Legislature last night passed emergency legislation, LD 2167 (referred to as the COVID-19 Omnibus Bill), which addresses many of the concerns being faced by municipalities in this unprecedented situation. Following is our summary of the provisions of this law which impact municipal government: Public meetings During the declared state of emergency, meetings of municipal boards and... More
  • Municipal COVID-19 Update We are understandably getting many questions from our municipal clients regarding how to handle public meetings, annual meetings, and public transactions given the Governor’s order prohibiting large gatherings. The other significant area of concern involves questions about how to balance serving the public while protecting your workforce. Several municipalities, including Portland and Augusta,... More
  • Superior Court Ruling Supports Municipal Authority Michaela Murphy of the Kennebec County Superior Court recently issued a decision in favor of the Town of Readfield. The case was brought by a property owner whose occupancy permit for a residential structure had been revoked by the Code Enforcement Officer because he had misrepresented its intended use.  The permit was revoked because the property owner was openly using the site as a... More
  • NH Supreme Court Clarifies Law Relating to Highways by Prescription Public highways established by prescription are only those that have been used for public travel for 20 years prior to January 1, 1968. (See NH RSA 229:1.)  In Town of Dunbarton v. Guiney et al. (decided February 5, 2020), the New Hampshire Supreme Court clarified the nature of the proof needed to establish a highway by prescription. The trial court in that case found that a highway by... More
  • Regulating Tiny Homes On January 30, the Joint Standing Committee on Transportation heard public testimony regarding LD 1981, An Act Regarding the Regulation of Tiny Homes. The concept draft bill proposes to define a “tiny house” and allow for the titling of a tiny house as a camp trailer or trailer. This bill comes after the Maine State Bureau of Motor Vehicles ceased registering, assigning vehicle notification... More