From AAPL’s Legislative and Regulatory Corner -
AAPL Focusing on Independent Contractor and Sales Tax Issues for Landmen This Fall
The fall is always an important time for government relations efforts across the U.S., particularly with critical elections taking place in November. While many state legislatures are in recess or approaching an end of session, this is a critical time to keep our issues top of mind and begin planning for 2015. This fall, AAPL is focusing on efforts to educate members on sales tax issues facing independent contractors, as well as planning next steps for legislative efforts in Texas and in Pennsylvania.
In addition, this Legislative Corner introduces two new sections: “Who’s in Session?,” which provides status updates of the U.S. and state legislatures, and “Regulatory News and Updates,” which is a comprehensive digest of recent major oil and gas regulations across the country.
INDEPENDENT CONTRACTORS & SALES TAX ISSUES
Sales Tax Issues in Texas: AAPL’s legislative and regulatory committee and tax committee are currently in discussion on how to move forward regarding the sales tax issues in Texas. We expect to have an update meeting in November. If you are in Texas and being audited for sales tax, please email David Nolen, chairman of the tax committee at firstname.lastname@example.org or me at email@example.com.
Independent Contractor Bill in Pennsylvania: I will be traveling to Pennsylvania this month to continue conversations on the landman independent contractor bill. The current legislative session in Pennsylvania ends on November 30, at which point all bills not already passed will “die.” Given this short timeline, plus likely changes in the gubernatorial office, AAPL has opted to postpone the introduction of the independent contractor bill until next January, when the 2015 session opens. In the meantime, we’re working with local AAPL associations – MLBC and NALA – to coordinate a landman call-up day at the capitol in Harrisburg early next year. AAPL currently has bi-partisan support for the bill and we’re hopeful we can get some movement in January 2015. I will share more details as this unfolds.
Coming Soon – New Master Service Agreement: AAPL is in process of updating its standard Master Service Agreement (MSA) form for landmen. This is one of the most important layers of protection in an audit. If you are an independent landman, please make sure you have an MSA. If you don’t have an MSA, please contact me and I would be happy to send you one. We expect to present the new standard MSA in December.
Coming Soon — Independent Contractor Toolkit: As a reminder, AAPL is working on an online toolkit that will include videos, articles and several other resources to educate AAPL members on the tax issues affecting independent contractors across the country. If you have suggestions for what should be included in the toolkit, please let me know.
Independent Contractors Survey: As mentioned in last month’s update, AAPL has partnered with PricewaterhouseCoopers to conduct a new survey regarding landmen compensation and the opportunities and challenges facing independent contractors.
Are You Being Audited? Contact AAPL: If you are being audited by the U.S. Department of Labor for the misclassification of independent contractors, AAPL can help. We’ve brought the full force of our association to help get cases against landmen dismissed in the past, and we can help fight your case as well. If you learn that you’re being audited or facing and audit, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Proposed Fracking Moratorium in Denton, Texas: The city of Denton voted to consider a fracking moratorium within city limits on its November ballot. If allowed to pass, this would be the first fracking moratorium in Texas history. AAPL is preparing to send a letter to all Denton County residents explaining the economic risks of a fracking ban. AAPL is also actively participating in efforts against other moratorium efforts across the county, particularly Colorado. As a reminder, the Hydraulic Fracturing fact sheet is posted on the AAPL website on www.landman.org/resources/aapl-toolkit.
Comments on EPA’s Proposed ‘Clean Water Act’ Revisions: As you might know, the EPA has proposed revisions to the “Clean Water Act” to clarify which U.S. waters are protected under the “Clean Water Act” and speed up permit processing for water use. Specifically, the proposed rule would protect most seasonal and rain-dependent streams as well as wetlands near rivers and streams. As in years past, the Clean Water Act will not cover farmland, groundwater, ditches or ponds. AAPL is currently reviewing the proposal and will submit a formal comment to the EPA by October 20. For more information, please see the EPA website: www2.epa.gov/uswaters.
Letter to the West Virginia State Bar: The West Virginia State Bar is currently addressing the unlicensed practice of law by landmen. We’re working with the West Virginia State Bar and expect to be on their December agenda. I’ll share more updates as well proceed with a formal letter on behalf of AAPL members residing in West Virginia.
WHO’S IN SESSION? – FALL 2014
The following states are in recess and are expected to convene on the dates provided: Pennsylvania (October 6); New Jersey (October 9); Michigan (October 22); Ohio (November 12); Rhode Island (January 7) and New York (January 8). California is in final recess and is expected to formally adjourn sine die on November 30. Delaware is in recess and is expected to adjourn sine die on December 31. Massachusetts is in recess but can continue to meet in informal session. They are expected to convene on January 6, 2015. The U.S. Congress is in recess. The Senate is expected to reconvene in pro forma session on October 15 and the House is expected to reconvene in regular session on November 12.
The Florida Senate, Kentucky and Virginia are now pre-filing for the 2015 legislative session.
The following states are currently holding interim committee hearings: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, the California Assembly and Senate, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, the Illinois House and Senate; Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma House and Senate, Oregon, the South Carolina House and Senate, South Dakota, Tennessee, the Texas House and Senate, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
REGULATORY NEWS AND UPDATES
Endangered Species Changes in New Mexico, Western U.S.
AZcentral.com reported on October 2 that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) will be adding the yellow-billed cuckoo to the endangered species list. The bird used to be common throughout the western United States and parts of Canada, but is now down to between 350 and 500 breeding pairs. The FWS listing includes a proposal to designate more than 500,000 acres of land in Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming as critical habitat. Of the acres, 245,000 are up for consideration in Arizona, which has the largest population of the bird. The FWS is accepting comments on the proposal until October 14. Protection for the yellow-billed cuckoo officially begins on November 1.
On October 1, The Santa Fe New Mexican reported that the FWS published its findings on the Rio Grande cutthroat trout, the official state fish of New Mexico, declaring that the species is no longer a candidate for listing under the Endangered Species Act. The fish was designated a candidate in 2008 after its habitat had been reduced by 89 percent, but after determined conservation efforts, the fish’s population has bounced back in recent years.
HB 1900 Could Put U.S. Natural Gas Pipelines on the Fast Track
In a letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), Maine Republican Gov. Paul LePage called on the agency to fast-track the proposed natural gas pipeline in the region. Governor LePage requested that FERC speed up regulatory reviews on the project and consider building natural gas storage facilities to stabilize the supply for regional power plants. The pipeline bill, HB 1900, has passed the U.S. House and currently awaits action in the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. If enacted, the bill would require FERC to rule on natural gas permits within a year to avoid automatic approval. LePage also criticized Massachusetts Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick for not supporting pipeline development there. Democratic U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud, who is challenging LePage in Maine’s gubernatorial race, criticized LePage for not attending a meeting last summer of the region’s governors to coordinate on the gas pipeline expansion, The Portland Press Herald reports.
New Hydraulic Fracturing Reporting Requirements in California
California SB 1281/Chapter 561 was approved by Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown on September 24. The new law will expand reporting requirements for well owners to include the amount of fluid or gas injected into each well used for enhanced recovery, underground storage of hydrocarbons, or waste water disposal, and the source and volume of any water used to generate or make up the composition of any injected fluid or gas, as specified. Owners will also be required to report the treatment of water and the use of treated or recycled water in oil and gas field activities, and the specific disposal of all water used or generated by these activities, including water produced from each well. The new law takes effect on January 1, 2015.
As always, we welcome your input as we continue to work on behalf of landmen, and we will update you as new developments occur. Are there any other regulatory developments or landman issues AAPL should be focusing on? Let me know at email@example.com.
American Association of Professional Landmen
Governmental Affairs Liaison