Friday, April 26, 2013


Big news for my Indiana clients!

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence and legislative leaders reached a budget deal Thursday that will cut the state’s personal income tax rate by 5 percent over the next four years while giving small increases to school funding.

The tax-cut plan would reduce the state’s current 3.4 percent tax rate to 3.3 percent in 2015 and then reduce that to 3.23 percent in 2017.

Pence issued a statement calling the cut “a great victory” for taxpayers even though it is half of what he proposed and is phased in over a much longer period.

Republican legislative leaders had resisted Pence’s push for a 10 percent tax cut to be fully implemented by July 2014. The House approved a budget plan in February without an income tax cut and the Senate this month had backed just a 3 percent cut.

Republican House Speaker Brian Bosma said his priorities had always been that the state’s budget be strong enough to avoid big spending cuts or the need for tax increases in the future.

“We believe this blend is the right blend, it’s at the right amount, it’s at the right time to be sustainable for the future,” Bosma said.

The Republican-dominated House and Senate are both expected to vote on the two-year budget plan on Friday, which is expected to be the final day of this year’s legislative session.

The proposed budget also calls for repealing the state’s inheritance tax retroactive to Jan. 1 of this year, which will reduce state revenue by about $150 million. Legislators last year had approved a 10-year phase out of that tax.

The spending plan gives 2 percent and 1 percent increases for school funding over the next two years, for about a $330 million hike.

Democrats have criticized the school funding increase as inadequate after former Gov. Mitch Daniels cut some $300 million from school spending during the recession.

The budget plan would also increase state funding for road and bridge projects by $215 million a year.

Pence said in his statement that the tax cuts put the state’s taxpayers first.

“The combination of a 5 percent individual income tax cut, inheritance tax repeal and additional tax relief for businesses is the right tax relief at the right time and will give a much needed boost to working families, small businesses and family farms,” Pence said.

(Taken from story published in the Louisville Courier-Journal on April 25, 2013; Written by Tom LoBianco and Tom Davies)

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

New FMLA Regulations: Employers need to know!

On February 5, 2013, twenty years to the day after the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) was signed into law, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) issued a revised Final Rule implementing recent expansions to the FMLA, effective March 8, 2013. This Final Rule expanded FMLA protection for military families, airline personnel and flight crews, and also requires covered employers to update their FMLA posters and policies. In addition, the Final Rule also implements clarifying changes for the calculation of intermittent and reduced schedule leave.

If your business has employees who have military personnel in their families, the Final Rule implements the following changes regarding Military Leave: 
  • Extends the availability of FMLA leave to family members of members of the National Guard, Reserves, and the Regular Armed Forces for qualifying exigencies arising out of the servicemembers’ deployment
  • Adds a qualified exigency leave category for parental care leave, allowing an employee to take leave to care for a military member’s parent who is incapable of self-care when the care is needed due to the servicemember’s covered active duty
  • Increases the amount of time an eligible family member can take for Rest and Recuperation from five days to a maximum of 15 calendar days to spend with a military member on rest and recuperation leave orders
  • Extends FMLA military caregiver leave for family members of current servicemembers to include an injury or illness that existed prior to service and was aggravated in the line of duty
  • Extends FMLA military caregiver leave to family members of certain veterans with serious injuries or illnesses
  • Provides that periods of absence from work by qualifying military members which are due to USERRA-covered service is counted in determining an employee’s eligibility for FMLA leave
The Final rule clarifies how Covered Employers calculate intermittent and "Reduced Schedule" Leave:

  • Clarifies that an employer may not require an employee to take more leave than necessary
  • Clarifies that FMLA leave may only be counted against an employee’s FMLA entitlement for leave actually taken and not for time that is worked
  • Clarifies that an employer must track FMLA leave using smallest increment of time used for other forms of leave with a one hour maximum
  • Clarifies that the physical impossibility exception is to be applied only in the most limited circumstances, and the employer has the responsibility to restore the employee to the same or equivalent position as soon as possible 
The Final Rule contemplates that all employers must post revised FMLA posters to reflect these new regulations, effective March 8, 2013. The updated poster can be found here.  Its also a good idea to update  your FMLA forms.  Our firm can certainly assist here, but you can see the DOL's suggested form updates here. We can also help Employers revise their policies and procedures to help comply with the updated FMLA regulations. 
The DOL also offers a most helpful side-by-side comparison chart to help Employers understand the changes in the Final Rule here.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Our Office has relocated . . . again!!

Yes, for those who are paying attention, John R. Russell, Ltd. wants to make it clear.  Our office has relocated to the South Holland Professional Center at 15525 South Park Avenue, Suite 104, South Holland, Illinois 60473.  I am sharing office space with veteran attorney Thomas Gilley, and I am looking forward to the new opportunities my new location will offer.  Please come and visit.