HMS Legal Blog

Crystal Ball .21

A new year is upon us; and while that may facially seem like a good thing, the continued uncertainty has people anxious.  I feel challenged to consider what issues, concerns, and hot topics are likely to rise the surface in the next twelve months.  With the pandemic still at the top of the news queue most of the time, and with many people still working from home, if they are working at all, picking the possible hot-button issues is no easy task. The trick, if there is one, is to narrow down the range of probable outcomes – in this case, to things that were begun and not finished.  What follows are my predictions for those industries regulated by public utility commissions – and the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (“PaPUC”) in particular.

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Is the PUC Preparing to Address Utility Rates in Light of the Recent Tax Cut?

Most US taxpayers are by now conscious of the passage of President Trump’s signature tax legislation which dramatically reduces the corporate tax rate from 35% to 21%.  What many folks may not know is that the rates they pay to their local utility include recovery for the income tax expense of those utilities.  This raises the question that some states, notably Kentucky and Oklahoma, have already begun to address: “How do regulators make sure that utility rates promptly reflect the substantial reduction in tax liability?”  In Oklahoma, the Attorney General has called upon the Oklahoma Corporation Commission to address the tax savings issue which he estimates to total $100 million statewide.  The Kentucky Public Service Commission already has ordered utilities to track their savings due to the tax change and to timely pass these savings on to customers.  Montana and Michigan are taking similar actions. 

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Kevin J. McKeon awarded the prestigious James S. Bowman Award.

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On May 15, 2014, during the Pennsylvania Bar Association’s annual meeting, the PBA’s Administrative Law Section presented the James S. Bowman Award to Kevin J. McKeon of Hawke McKeon & Sniscak, LLP.  The award honors a lawyer who is making a significant impact on the practice of administrative law and who is demonstrating leadership in mentoring administrative law practitioners.  McKeon regularly represents clients before the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and also serves as lead counsel on significant cases before Pennsylvania’s appellate courts and the federal circuit courts of appeal. He serves on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s Appellate Court Procedural Rules Committee, is a co-author of Pennsylvania Appellate Practice, and is a frequent lecturer on topics in administrative law and appellate procedure.   The award is named for the late Honorable James S. Bowman, the first President Judge of the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania,   whose comprehensive knowledge of administrative law, government law and appellate procedure was widely recognized and respected.

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Act 13’s Local Zoning Provisions Put On Hold

Commonwealth Court Grants Preliminary Injunction Halting Zoning Limits in Act 13

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