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Government

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Public Policy

For more than 35 years, McNair’s work with local, state and federal governmental entities has been a proven combination of experience and capabilities. Ever since our founding by Governor Robert E. McNair in 1971, McNair has provided government advocacy for Carolina businesses of all sizes, and has worked in tandem with governmental agencies to achieve public policy objectives.

Whether your organization’s business activity is highly regulated (such as the specialized administrative requirements that health care providers, electric utilities and telecom companies must meet), or you simply need help with securing a permit or presenting your story in an administrative forum, McNair lawyers can use their understanding of administrative policy and procedures on your behalf. And if you are an administrative policymaker particularly in local and state government, we will work with you and use our knowledge to help make your complex policy decisions easier.

Local Government

Just as we understand how state government works at the highest executive and legislative levels, our working relationships with these decision-makers enhances our ability to counsel counties, municipalities, school districts and special purpose entities throughout the state on their legal and operational needs.

If you are a local government official in South Carolina, you have likely worked with a McNair lawyer. We have represented 25 of the state’s 46 counties, more than half of the 85 school districts, and dozens of municipalities on some issue of importance to them. We not only serve as outside "general counsel" to some of these clients – our lawyers often are special counsel on administrative, environmental, financing, immigration, land use and other matters.

General Counsel Representation

Our lawyers advise members of all types of governmental bodies, including municipalities, counties, school districts and special purpose districts, as well as their elected officials and directors, as general and special counsel. Economic development is a particular focus of our practice, and we understand zoning, land use, eminent domain and valuation as they apply to commercial and industrial properties and projects. We have also drafted local laws and regulations with significant statewide impact, and are experienced in government process and procedure.

Public Finance

In counseling the state of South Carolina and the governing bodies of more than half of South Carolina’s counties and many of the state’s municipalities, McNair has served as bond counsel on a wide range of economic development, water, sewer and general obligation financings. We have also advised on financing for all four of the state’s major airports, have handled tax-exempt financing for more than half of the state’s 85 school districts.

Land Use and Zoning

McNair’s knowledge of and representation of local governments is central to our land use and zoning practice. Zoning regulations ultimately reflect a political process, as well a commercial one, and our lawyers are skilled at advising on and resolving crucial issues to secure the timely approval of permits and zoning applications.

Constitutional Issues

As more municipalities and country governments enact legislation regarding the employment of illegal immigrants, we increasingly are advising these public clients on appropriate language for ordinances to ensure that they are constitutionally correct. We also counsel local government clients on dealing with a full range of civil rights issues, from allegations of sexual harassment and racial discrimination. And we advise on compliance with laws that regulate open meetings, campaign finance, conflicts of interest and many other constitutional issues.

Example of our Services
An excellent example of McNair’s multifaceted local government counsel is our role in facilitating development projects involving multiple government units and private businesses. In one major package we integrated municipal, county and private financing to facilitate the construction of a downtown convention center / hotel development. Other examples include an incentive package that we developed to help two municipalities create a development corridor between them, a public-private partnership formed to create incentives for redeveloping a blighted urban area, and innovative multi-entity incentives for the development of a public-private recreation complex.

Solutions in State Government

Our firm has created the kind of working relationships with state government that allow us to reach business solutions for our clients, either through convincing arguments that change administrative policy, or advocacy of their position. We work with the members, staff and legal counsel of the South Carolina Budget and Control Board, the state agency with authority in concerns as diverse as public finance, human resource management, procurement and health care.

We also work with and before the state’s Administrative Law Courts, particularly in appeals of administrative rulings by regulatory agencies. Our voice is heard in Columbia by those who matter – and that means that the crucial issues you face receive the full and objective consideration they deserve.

Economic Development

McNair as been involved with South Carolina’s entire economic development process. We assisted with the creation of the South Carolina Jobs - Economic Development Authority to structure the state’s first use of industrial incentives to finance general commercial development. We understand how state government works at the highest executive and legislative levels, and our professional credibility means that we are often successful at working with decision-makers to craft solutions that reshape development law and position us to resolve even the most complex development challenges.

Environmental

Our state environmental law practice features strength in coastal permitting issues, reflecting one of our team members’ prior experience as Chief Counsel, Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management with the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC). Any environmental permit obtained from SCDHEC or the US Army Corps of Engineers for development within the state’s eight coastal counties triggers a requirement for a coastal zone consistency certification, and we have the skill to guide clients through the full coastal zone consistency certification process. We are effective at demonstrating that a project is consistent with the policies and procedures of the Coastal Zone Management Program Document, including 401 water quality analysis.

Health Care

Whether your health care operation intends to build, add to or modify its existing physical plant, undertake a significant new capital expenditure, or enter a business combination with another provider, McNair can help you at every step in the regulatory approval process. You get comprehensive advice on compliance strategies for all significant certification threshold issues, including permit applications, exemption requests and cost overrun determinations.

Our lawyers will represent you before the state planning board responsible for your operations. Hospitals rely on our working relationships with the regulatory authorities in those states to secure merger and acquisition approval from the Attorney General, state health regulators and similar authorities.

Procurement

No matter what products and services your company seeks to sell to state government – sophisticated electronics, school buses or vending machine maintenance – McNair lawyers can be your advocates in the procurement process. We work with any company or organization wanting help to resolve a contract dispute, needing to handle a bid protest, or seeking guidance on the best ways to establish or expand business with state government agencies.

Once a contract is secured we can help with performance issues, including interpretation of contract clauses, identification and pricing of change orders, and government audits and investigations. We can also help you bring, and defend against, protests over the propriety of state government contract award processes.

Regulated Utilities

We help clients in key regulated utility industries – electric power, telecommunications, water management – work with state regulators to operate efficiently and effectively in today’s complex mix of market economics and public policy. Our lawyers are experienced in helping utilities with traditional regulatory concerns such as ratemaking proceedings, facility siting and administrative litigation.

Tax

Our state tax practice handles audits, appeals and criminal tax investigations. You will get a defense in administrative hearings before state taxing authorities, thanks to our approach that combines a willingness to litigate with the skill to work out a negotiated settlement.

In addition, public and private foundations, charitable organizations, hospitals, educational institutions and governmental agencies (including a South Carolina governmental organization created to assist school districts and county governments provide educational services to children with learning disabilities) also seek our help to secure and maintain their tax-exempt status.

Example of our Services
McNair focuses on solutions that add value for both business and government. For example, we helped one of South Carolina’s largest banks build a new North American financial headquarters in the state and receive development incentives that were otherwise blocked by state tax law. McNair lawyers proposed and lobbied for a change in the law and then structured a favorable incentive package.

  • When the Sierra Club filed an appeal against the South Carolina licensing of our client’s low-level nuclear waste disposal facility, McNair defended the licensing approval in a week-long hearing that involved highly technical scientific issues. When our opponents appealed the approval, we prevailed in the Administrative law court on behalf of our client.
  • When a private religious institution and a county government formed a new tax-exempt hospital system, we negotiated the Certificate of Public Advantage and the antitrust clearance, and led the litigation which resolved key constitutional issues.
  • So that ten South Carolina municipalities could create a joint action agency to provide wholesale electric service to its members through 25% ownership of a nuclear power plant, McNair had to draft and secure approval of a special state law, then twice successfully defend the law before the South Carolina Supreme Court.

    Campaign Law

    Our federal practice includes advising clients on issues involving the federal Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995, the new congressional gift rules and the existing executive branch gift rules. This includes lobbying, registration and disclosure requirements. If your business or organization is interested in policy advocacy, we can help you form Political Action Committees (PACs) that comply with the stringent federal registration and reporting requirements.

    We’ll also advise you on compliance with the Foreign Agents Registration Act, provide general advice for trade associations and coalitions, assist with related tax issues and offer guidance on federal election law issues.

    Environmental

    McNair’s lawyers have the federal regulatory experience to litigate environmental claims, act in contested administrative permit or enforcement proceedings, and maintain regulatory compliance. Private cost recovery actions under such federal laws as CERCLA (the Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation & Liability Act) and RCRA (the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act) are a special focus of our practice, and we help clients negotiate CERCLA and RCRA consent agreements with federal environmental agencies. We also negotiate and mitigate claims brought against clients by the EPA under the Clean Air and Water Acts.

    Example of our Services
    McNair defended a past owner of a manufacturing facility against a private action brought under the CERCLA and RCRA statutes. The current owner sought in federal court well over $10 million in cleanup costs and damages, and we demonstrated that provable damages were less than half that. On the second day of trial, we reached a favorable settlement for less than the provable damages.

    Health Care

    Health care provider organizations throughout the Carolinas turn to McNair for help with the full spectrum of their regulatory and administrative needs at the federal level. Our lawyers make sure that mergers, acquisitions, joint ventures and contracting arrangements comply with federal antitrust requirements set by the US Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission.

    Clients with reimbursement concerns get representation at all levels of the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and its agencies, especially the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). If you face a False Claims Act investigation by the HHS Office of the Inspector General (OIG), you can turn to us knowing that we have represented providers like you in investigations, administrative proceedings and trials.

    Labor and Employment

    McNair is the one advocate employers need to deal with federal labor law concerns. If you face a union organizing drive, we’ll ensure that you comply with National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) election law, and counter aggressive unionizing efforts without creating a “union-busting” controversy.

    We have represented many employers in complaint investigations and administrative proceedings by such federal agencies as the US Department of Labor, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA). And we make sure that pension and benefit plans are kept in full compliance with IRS and Department of Labor regulations under federal laws such as COBRA, ERISA (the Employee Retirement and Income Security Act) and HIPAA (the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act).

    Tax

    From Fortune 500 companies to individuals, clients seek our help when faced with tax concern that involves the Internal Revenue Service. You get the benefit of our experience and familiarity with the procedures of the IRS and other taxing authorities to reduce proposed tax assessments, abate or waive penalties, obtain private letter rulings and other formal and informal advice, advise on IRS demands for documents and other information, and negotiate offers in compromise, lien releases, and payment plans, and other administrative solutions to your tax problems.

    A major part of our work is creating tax-exempt 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(6) organizations under the Internal Revenue Code, and maintaining their tax-exempt status by securing IRS letters of determination and responding to audits and inquiries.

    Example of our Services
    We successfully resolved an IRS audit, appeal and resulting US Tax Court case involving an asserted $50 million income tax deficiency against a US multinational corporation and foreign affiliates, with over 250 separate adjustments and issues, including transfer-pricing, treaty-based competent authority proceedings, inventory valuation, and officer compensation.