Tag Archives: Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania Announces the First Phase of Permit Applications for Grower/Processors and Dispensaries.

Yesterday, Secretary of Health, Dr. Karen Murphy of the Pennsylvania Department of Health (“DOH”) announced that applications for medical marijuana grower/processors and dispensaries will be available at the Pennsylvania DOH’s website, www.health.pa.gov, beginning January 17, 2017. Permit applications will be accepted from February 20, 2017 until March 20, 2017.

In less than a year, Pennsylvania’s Medical Marijuana Act (“MMA”) has gone from enactment to the first phase of implementation. Pursuant to chapter 6 of the MMA, Section 601 authorizes grower/processors and dispensaries as the only entities authorized to receive a permit and operate as a medical marijuana organizations and grow, process or dispenses medical marijuana.

Section 602(a) of the MMA generally requires all applications to include:

1. Verification of all principals, operators, financial backers or employees of a medical marijuana grower/processor or dispensary.
2. A description of responsibilities as a principal, operator, financial backer or employee.
3. Any release necessary to obtain information from governmental agencies, employers and other organizations.
4. A criminal history record check.
5. Details relating to a similar license, permit or other authorization obtained in another jurisdiction, including any suspensions, revocations or discipline in that jurisdiction.
6. A description of the business activities in which it intends to engage as a medical marijuana organization.
7. A statement that the applicant: (i) Is of good moral character; (ii) Possesses the ability to obtain in an expeditious manner the right to use sufficient land, buildings and other premises and equipment to properly carry on the activity described in the application and any proposed location for a facility; (iii) Is able to maintain effective security and control to prevent diversion, abuse and other illegal conduct relating to medical marijuana; and (iv) Is able to comply with all applicable Commonwealth laws and regulations relating to the activities in which it intends to engage under this act.
8. The name, residential address and title of each financial backer and principal of the applicant. Each individual, or lawful representative of a legal entity, shall submit an affidavit with the application setting forth: (i) Any position of management or ownership during the preceding 10 years of a controlling interest in any other business, located inside or outside this Commonwealth, manufacturing or distributing controlled substances; and (ii) Whether the person or business has been convicted of a criminal offense graded higher than a summary offense or has had a permit relating to medical marijuana suspended or revoked in any administrative or judicial proceeding, and
9. Any other information the department may require.

Section 607 of the MMA sets forth the following fees and requirements to obtain a permit.

For a grower/processor:  1) An initial nonrefundable application fee of $10,000 must be paid; 2) A permit fee of $200,000 is required at the time of application. (The fee shall be returned if the permit is not granted); and 3)  A grower/processor must have at least $2,000,000 in capital, $500,000 of which must be on deposit with a financial institution.

For a dispensary: 1) An initial nonrefundable application fee of $5,000 must be paid: 2  A permit fee of $30,000 for each location must be paid. (The fee shall be returned if the application is not granted); and 3) A dispensary must have at least $150,000 in capital, which must be on deposit with a financial institution.

In October and November, the DOH drafted and published general regulations as well as specific regulations for both grower/processors and dispensaries. The regulations can be found at 28 PA. Code CHS 1141, 1151, and 1161.

Pursuant to 28 PA. Code §1141.23, no more than 25 permits will be issued for grower/processors and only one grower/processor permit per applicant. Additionally, no more than 50 dispensary permits will be issued and no more than five dispensary permits to one person. A dispensary permit may be used at no more than three locations.

28 PA. Code §1141.28 states the DOH shall publish in the Pennsylvania Bulletin notice of the initial permit application availability and the timeframe which they will be accepted. Only the form of application provided on the DOH’s website may be used and it must be submitted electronically.

Secretary Murphy further announced that this was the first phase of the program and that initially up to 12 permits will be issued for grower/processors and up to 27 permits will be issued for dispensaries, across Pennsylvania’s six medical marijuana regions. Secretary Murphy stated that “the decision for which counties will be issued permits in this first phase was determined by using the department’s medical data, as well as comments from more than 5,000 patients and nearly 900 potential grower/processors and dispensary applicants.” For further information on how many permits will be issued per each region please read the blog at http://cannabisindustrylawgroup.com/index.php/2016/12/21/pa-department-of-health-outlines-phase-i-of-medical-marijuana-program/

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Major Pennsylvania Firearm Cases of 2016

As the year is coming to a close, I thought it important to document some of the monumental court decisions that Firearms Industry Consulting Group® (FICG®), a division of Prince Law Offices, P.C., obtained in 2016, as well as, some other cases of importance.

We were successful in a monumental case of first impression in obtaining a decision from the Commonwealth Court holding that all license to carry firearms applicant information is confidential and not subject to disclosure. The court held that disclosure through an un-enveloped postcard was a public disclosure.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court in Commonwealth v. Childs re-affirmed that the Castle Doctrine is an inalienable/inherent right.

There was the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Birchfield v. North Dakota that held that a state may not imposed additional criminal sanctions or penalties on someone refusing a breathalyzer or blood draw. Although we were not involved in the Birchfield decision, as a result of the decision, we were able to get numerous individual relief from previously prohibiting convictions and plea deals.

In another case of first impression, we were successful in a Second Amendment as-applied challenge in relation to a mental health commitment. The District Court even declared:

Indeed, Mr. Yox provides the perfect test case to challenge § 922(g)(4), as the illogical contradiction of being able to possess firearms in his professional capacities but not being able to possess a firearm for protection in his own home puts in relief a factual scenario where an as-applied Second Amendment challenge to this statute may succeed.

Indeed, if Mr. Yox were not to succeed on his as-applied challenge, we cannot imagine that there exists any person who could.

In a monumental order, the Superior Court vacated its decision in Commonwealth v. Goslin and ordered re-briefing and argument on whether Mr. Goslin, who merely possessed a lawful pocket knife on school grounds, was entitled to the defense of his possession constituting an “other lawful purpose.” This was after the Superior Court had issued a devastating opinion holding that one could only possess a weapon on school grounds if it related to and was necessitated by the reason the individual was on school grounds. We now await the court’s decision.

The most recent decision was in relation to Lower Merion Township’s illegal firearm ordinances, which precluded individuals from possessing and utilizing firearms in their parks, in direct contravention of Article 1, Section 21 of the Pennsylvania Constitution and our state preemption, found in 18 Pa.C.S. 6120. The Commonwealth Court found that Firearm Owners Against Crime (FOAC) was entitled to an injunction.

These are but a few of the extremely important, pro-Second Amendment, decisions that were rendered this year in Pennsylvania.

If your rights have been violated, contact us today to discuss your options! Together, we can ensure that YOUR constitutional rights aren’t infringed!

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Numerous Verified Reports of Voting Machine Issues in Pennsylvania

As some of you are aware, I am serving in Berks County as a Poll Watcher. Prior to today, I had little concern over the voting machines used by Pennsylvania, as they are 30+ years old and not connected to the internet. However, today my concern has changed.

I have seen numerous verified reports from across the Commonwealth of voting machines specifying the Democratic candidates, when an individual has selected the straight Republican candidates button. This has been a confirmed issue in Lebanon County, as reported by PennLive – Voting Machine Error that Showed Republicans Voting Democrat Fixed. There is also the report from the Schuylkill County Republican Committee of the same thing:

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I also have a report from Berks County – Muhlenberg 10th, that the same issue was occurring. There are also reports from Exeter, identical in nature.

While currently all information is supporting that votes cast for the candidates specified by the light next to his/her name is being correctly recorded, it is questionable of whether that information can be definitively known at this time, given the way in which the data is recorded in these machines.

Accordingly, any voter should specify the individual candidates that he/she desires to vote for and not click the button to vote straight party.

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Ballot selfie? PA Law and the First Amendment Collide

If you are planning on snapping a “selfie” in the voting booth this Tuesday, you may find yourself on the wrong side of the law.

dutch_voting_selfie

25 Pa.C.S. § 3530 prohibits a voter from showing “his ballot or the face of the voting machine voted by him to be seen by any person with the apparent intention of letting it be known how he is about to vote.” A person who violates this section “shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and, upon conviction thereof, shall be sentenced to pay a fine not exceeding one thousand ($1,000) dollars, or to undergo an imprisonment of not more than one (1) year, or both, in the discretion of the court.”

While the law does not make it a crime to show a ballot after it has been cast, any revelation prior to the vote being cast appears to be punishable. This would seemingly include any live streaming activities as well. It also appears to conflict with one’s First Amendment right to free speech.

In fact, a Federal Court held in September that a New Hampshire ban on “ballot selfies” was unconstitutional. The law challenged made it unlawful for voters to snap a picture of their ballot and post it on social media.

The Pennsylvania Department of State (DoS) issued a guidance on rules in effect at the polling place on election day in October of this year. Under the section entitled “Electronic Devices” the DoS states that the Election Code does not address the use of electronic devices in the polling place and as such, counties should “adopt common sense rules that take into account the need for order in the polling place and the right of citizens to vote unimpeded.”

In particular, the guidance notes that “[r]ecent court cases have found a First Amendment right to take “ballot selfies”. Therefore, the DoS recommends that “voters who want to take a picture of themselves voting take care that they not disclose the selections of voters other than themselves. The Department recommends that voters wait until after they leave the polling place to post ballot selfies on social media.”

While the law has not changed here in Pennsylvania, it would seem that the trend on a national level would indicate that if an individual were to challenge the law in relation to “ballot selfies” they would be successful on First Amendment grounds.

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Allegheny County Sheriff’s Department Violates the Law in Issuing Unlawful LTCF

Today, I became aware of an article by Stephen J. Nesbitt and Jonathan D. Silver of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette entitled Sheriff’s Office deletes photos of Pirate Parrot ‘gun license’ in which it not only alleges, but provides proof, that the Allegheny County Sheriff’s Office issued a license to carry firearms (LTCF) to a fictitious mascot – Pirate Parrot – in violation of the Uniform Firearms Act (UFA).

The article includes a photo of the LTCF that was issued (interestingly reflecting an issuance date of 4/2/15), which the article declares was taken down off of the Sheriff Office’s social media page but which Allegheny County Sheriff Mullens confirmed the existence of.

While some may not be alarmed and may believe it to be humorous, there are significant legal consequences. First, and foremost, a license to carry firearms can only be issued to an “individual,”after the requisite investigation, pursuant to 18 Pa.C.S. 6109. Clearly, the Pirate Parrot is not an individual and a quick review of the LTCF Application, which is promulgated by the Pennsylvania State Police, confirms that it would be an impossibility for the Sheriff to issue an LTCF due to the Pirate Parrot lacking identification, which is defined in 37 Pa.Code. 33.102.

Moreover, in conducting the investigation, the Sheriff is to

  • (1)  investigate the applicant’s record of criminal conviction;
  • (2)  investigate whether or not the applicant is under indictment for or has ever been convicted of a crime punishable by imprisonment exceeding one year;
  • (3)  investigate whether the applicant’s character and reputation are such that the applicant will not be likely to act in a manner dangerous to public safety;
  • (4)  investigate whether the applicant would be precluded from receiving a license under subsection (e)(1) or section 6105(h) (relating to persons not to possess, use, manufacture, control, sell or transfer firearms); and
  • (5)  conduct a criminal background, juvenile delinquency and mental health check following the procedures set forth in section 6111 (relating to sale or transfer of firearms), receive a unique approval number for that inquiry and record the date and number on the application.

Clearly, it is an impossibility for the Sheriff to conduct such an investigation in relation to a fictitious entity. One must question whether the unique approval number was obtained (whereby false information was provided to the Pennsylvania Instant Check System (PICS)) and whether the Pirate Parrot was charged for his LTCF, since certain portions of the amount collected must be remitted to the State Treasury, pursuant to Section 6109(h)(3). All of these violations, pursuant to 18 Pa.C.S. 6119, would be misdemeanors of the first degree.

But there are further violations of the law. Pursuant to 18 Pa.C.S. 6111(g)(3.1),

Any person, … who knowingly and intentionally obtains or furnishes information collected or maintained pursuant to section 6109 for any purpose other than compliance with this chapter or who knowingly or intentionally disseminates, publishes or otherwise makes available such information to any person other than the subject of the information commits a felony of the third degree.

And then there are the civil consequence of disclosing LTCF applicant information, as provided by Section 6111(i)

Confidentiality.  All information provided by the … applicant, including, but not limited to, the … applicant’s name or identity, furnished by … any applicant for a license to carry a firearm as provided by section 6109 shall be confidential and not subject to public disclosure. In addition to any other sanction or penalty imposed by this chapter, any person,… State or local governmental agency or department that violates this subsection shall be liable in civil damages in the amount of $ 1,000 per occurrence or three times the actual damages incurred as a result of the violation, whichever is greater, as well as reasonable attorney fees.

Plus, there are violations related to the Allegheny County Sheriff Department’s inclusion of false information into the Pennsylvania State Police’s database of LTCF applicant information.

What is most disconcerting is that this is the same Sheriff’s Office that imposes unlawful regulations on applicants who apply for LTCFs. As set-forth in Section 6109, only the PSP is to promulgate the form to apply for an LTCF and the criteria for denying an individual is found in Section 6109(e). Yet, in the absence of any criteria found within Section 6109(e), the Allegheny County Sheriff’s Department denies individuals who, prior to a finding of guilt, have an open case in any court and of any type (including traffic citations, parking tickets, fish and game, etc). It also denies anyone with a closed case in any court where exists a remaining case balance, even where the individual has a payment plan with the court. And lastly, in direct violation of Section 6109, the Allegheny County Sheriff’s Department refuses to accept and process applications for non-PA Resident Licenses.

It would be nice if the Allegheny County Sheriff’s Department spent more time on complying with the law than violating the law…but all may not be lost. Given the issuance of Pirate Parrot’s LTCF, now there exists a legal and constitutional basis, under Equal Protection, to challenge all of the Sheriff Departments denials and illegal requirements. More importantly, some in the Sheriff’s Department may have the opportunity to keep former Attorney General Kathleen Kane company in jail.

If you believe your confidential LTCF applicant information has been disclosed by an individual or governmental agency, contact us today to discuss your options!

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Filed under Firearms Law, Pennsylvania Firearms Law

First Step to Starting Your Business

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Prince Law Offices, P.C. attorney Jeffrey A. Franklin will be presenting at “First Step to Starting Your Business” in cooperation with the Kutztown University of Pennsylvania Small Business Development Center.  
First Step to Starting Your Business (Lancaster, PA)
Date: Nov 4, 2016 10:30am – 12:30pm
Registration Deadline: 11/4/2016 8:00 AM (EDT)
Point of Contact: Kutztown SBDC (877) 472-7232
Center: Kutztown SBDC
Fee: None
Location: 454 New Holland Ave Suite 300 Lancaster, PA 17602 , Lancaster PA 17602
 
This workshop covers a number of critical issues relevant to starting and operating a small business. Professional presenters include attorneys, insurance agents, accountants, financial specialists and zoning and codes staff. The workshop is designed for both entrepreneurs thinking about opening their first business and existing business owners looking for a “checkup”.
Desire more specific assistance regarding your business formation, agreements, intellectual property, trademarks, zoning, real estate law, cyber security, insurance, etc., contact attorney Jeffrey A. Franklin at Prince Law Offices, P.C.

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$107 Million for Solar and Renewable Projects – $65 Million Available This Year

sunshotSeptember 14, 2016 the U.S. Energy Department announced up to $107 million in new projects and planned funding in order to support America’s continued leadership in clean energy innovation through solar technology. Under the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s (EERE) SunShot Initiative, the Department will fund 40 projects with a total of $42 million to improve PV performance, reliability, manufacturability and to enable greater market penetration for solar technologies. In addition to the new projects announced today, the Department intends to make up to $65 million, subject to appropriation, in additional funding available for upcoming solar research and development projects to continue driving down the cost of solar energy and accelerating widespread national deployment.

One of SunShot’s goals is to drive down the levelized cost of utility-scale solar electricity to $0.06 per kilowatt-hour without incentives by 2020. 

“Since 2008, the commitments made by the Department of Energy have contributed to solar PV’s deployment growing 30-fold and overall costs falling more than 60 percent,” said Under Secretary for Science and Energy Franklin Orr. “Continuing to invest in solar technologies will help to drive down costs even further for American consumers and ensure that the U.S. maintains global leadership in this century’s clean energy economy.”

PV Research and Development Program: $17 Million for 19 Advanced PV Technologies

SunShot selected 19 projects to receive a total of $17 million under the PV Research and Development Program to improve the performance, reliability and manufacturability of existing PV technology while seeking to advance next generation solar technology development. The new research and development projects focus on both current and emerging PV technologies aimed at improving power conversion efficiency and energy output, while also enhancing service lifetime and decreasing hardware costs. These projects could significantly lower solar PV costs from SunShot’s 2020 targets to support even more widespread deployment of PV technologies across the nation. Click here to view the list of awardees.

Two projects are from neighboring Delaware.  Congratulations U-Del:  

UNIVERSITY OF DELAWARE

Project Name: Rapid Patterning and Advanced Device Structures for Low Cost Manufacturable Crystalline Silicon IBC Cells
Location: Newark, DE
SunShot Award Amount: $1,124,491
Awardee Cost Share: $125,084
Principal Investigator: Steven Hegedus
Project Summary: This project is developing a new method for the manufacturing of interdigitated back contact (IBC) solar cells with metal contacts on the backside of the wafer, which allows for greater light harvesting on the front surface due to the absence of grid shadowing. The new process will use direct laser patterning of the metal electrodes to isolate the positive and negative contacts, as well as laser firing of dopants to create localized contacts regions between the metal and the silicon wafer. The result will be a lower cost silicon manufacturing process and device structure that will lead to an IBC cell with 25% efficiency.

UNIVERSITY OF DELAWARE

Project Name: Improved Performance and Reliability of PV Modules using the Reaction of Metal Precursors
Location: Newark, DE
SunShot Award Amount: $800,000
Awardee Cost Share: $88,889
Principal Investigator: William Shafarman
Project Summary: This project is working to improve the performance and reliability of thin-film copper indium gallium sulfide selenide (CIGSS) cells. The team is developing innovative approaches to improve the deposition and device fabrication to provide a pathway to significant reduction in LCOE. By focusing on processes and materials with low manufacturing cost and that are already used in commercial production, the project expects to directly impact the market and advance CIGSS technology toward and beyond the SunShot 2020 goal of $0.06 per kilowatt hour LCOE.

Technology to Market Program:  $25 Million for 21 Rapid Solar Innovation Projects

To accelerate the current growth trajectory of solar energy in America, the Department is also announcing nearly $25 million for 21 new projects under SunShot’s Technology to Market Program. The funding will support the development of new tools, technologies and services for the solar industry by helping to reduce hardware costs, improve business operational efficiency and broaden the investor pool for project development. Additionally, the projects will yield products that can leverage new, emerging technologies and assist in streamlining regulatory processes. Click here to view the list of awardees.  One project is from neighboring New Jersey.  

QADO ENERGY, INC.

Location: Summit, NJ
SunShot Award Amount: $700,000
Awardee Cost Share: $700,000
Project Summary: This project enables large utilities to conduct rapid forecasting and planning of distributed energy resource (DER) deployment combinations through the use of hybrid distribution/transmission models. The rapid addition of distributed generation creates concerns among utilities and regional transmission operators about impacts on transmission. The development of transmission impact functionality will drive down interconnection times of large commercial and small utility projects, which are known for their lengthy queues.

Future Funding for PV Technology, Technology to Market and Systems Integration Programs

Later this year, SunShot intends to make up to $65 million, subject to appropriation, in additional funding available under the PV Research and Development Program, Technology to Market Program and its Systems Integration Program. The PV Research and Development Program is expected to make up to $25 million available in funding to improve PV module and system design, including hardware and software solutions that facilitate the rapid installation and interconnection of PV systems. The Technology to Market Program expects up to $30 million to be made available for projects that accelerate the commercialization of products and solutions that can help to drive down the cost of solar energy. Finally, SunShot will make up to $10 million available under its Systems Integration Program for projects that are focused on improving solar irradiance and power forecasts that will accelerate data integration into energy management systems used by utilities.

Desire more specific assistance regarding CHP, renewable energy projects, energy law, or real estate law, contact attorney Jeffrey A. Franklin at Prince Law Offices, P.C.

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