Integrating Federal Benefits Laws with State and Local Requirements

Governmental plans and sponsors face unique legal issues. While governmental plans are exempt from ERISA, many other federal laws governing employee benefit plans do apply, often in unusual ways. At the same time, governmental plans are subject to state and sometimes local laws, creating a complex additional layer of regulation. Governmental plans and sponsors also face vastly different governance, financial dynamics and accounting standards than private sector plans.

Our attorneys have extensive experience addressing the specialized needs of governmental plans, whether of states, municipalities or political subdivisions, and we bring to bear deep knowledge and understanding of this unique legal landscape when advising our governmental plan clients. Our governmental plans practice includes the following:

  • Providing advice and counseling on investment and other fiduciary issues that takes into account applicable state and local laws and regulations and “common law” trust and fiduciary responsibility principles
  • Analyzing and advising on constitutional “impairment of contract” issues implicated by plan benefit changes
  • Providing advice on plan design and Internal Revenue Code qualification issues that considers the numerous exemptions and specialized rules applicable to governmental plans
  • Drafting plan documents, amendments and employee communication materials that fit the government entity’s intent and are consistent with the more limited technical/qualification requirements applicable to governmental plans
  • Assisting with and drafting 457(b) plans and non-qualified 457(f) deferred compensation arrangements
  • Advising on administrative and plan design issues related to domestic partner and same-sex marriage laws
  • Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) issues related to retiree medical benefits and retiree health trusts