Legislative Updates

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Are you or your business delinquent in paying state taxes?
You may qualify for the 2017 PA Tax Amnesty Program.

Posted May 5, 2017

Dear Chamber & CREDC members,

Earlier today, I had the opportunity to participate in a press conference hosted by the PA Department of Revenue announcing a new Tax Amnesty Program for businesses.

The 2017 PA Tax Amnesty Program provides an opportunity for individuals and businesses to pay past-due taxes (unpaid/underpaid) as of December 31, 2015 with all penalties and half of the interest waived.  More than 30 different state taxes are eligible under this 60-day program, including personal income tax, corporate net income tax, sales and use tax, employer withholding tax, and inheritance tax.

By participating in the program, you or your business will save half of the interest, all of the penalty, and any fees associated with your delinquent taxes.  The state will also cancel liens or other enforcement actions against you.  Certain eligible individuals or businesses that choose to not participate may incur a 5% non-participation penalty added to the balance due and may be subject to other enforcement actions.

I encourage those who are eligible to participate in the 2017 Tax Amnesty Program, as it may provide significant savings to you or your business.

CLICK HERE to apply for the 2017 Tax Amnesty Program.

For more information, access the Tax Amnesty Program Guidelines, Tax Amnesty Program Q&A, and Tax Amnesty Fact Sheet.

A brief webinar is available through this link<https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qilPeSmxKdw>, which provides an overview of the 2017 Tax Amnesty program.

David Black
President & CEO

Revenue Package is Approved, 2016-2017 Commonwealth Budget Officially Complete

Posted July 14, 2016

Chamber & CREDC members, we have a budget – and a revenue package, too.  The General Assembly worked rather quickly and in a bipartisan fashion to move the 2016-2017 State Budget through the legislative process.  The spending bill was officially passed by the House and Senate on June 30, its constitutional deadline.  The $31.5 billion spending plan provides for a 4.7% increase over the 2015-2016 budget.  Perhaps most notably it increases funding for both basic and higher education by 3.5% and 2.5% respectively.  It also addresses state mandated increases for the Department of Corrections, the Department of Human Services, and public pension obligations without requiring new broad-based taxes in order to be balanced.  Governor Wolf elected to allow the legislation – SB 1073 – to become law without his signature.  This action signaled his approval for the spending plan but was a call to the General Assembly to figure out ways to pay for it.

Then, yesterday afternoon, legislators approved the $1.3 billion revenue package by a vote of 116-75 in the House and 28-22 in the Senate.  A combined total of 82 Democrats and 62 Republicans voted in favor of bill.  HB 1198 increases taxes on certain tobacco products, while creating new taxes on digital downloads.  Some highlights of the revenue package include:

  • $2.60-per pack tax on cigarettes (increased from $1-per pack); $0.55-per ounce new tax on roll-your-own and smokeless tobacco; and 40% new tax on electronic cigarettes, including vaping devices and liquid cartridges
  • 6% sales tax extended to digital downloads for e-books, games, music and audio, photographs, and videos, including streaming services
  • 3.07% state income tax extended to Pennsylvania Lottery winnings
  • 2% new tax on casinos’ daily gross revenue from table games
  • 0.95% bank shares tax (increased from 0.89%)
  • Cuts tax credits for the Keystone Innovation Zone program from $25 million to $15 million
  • Allows tax delinquents to pay back taxes in a 60-day period without penalty
  • Takes into account the $149 million generated by the recently passed state store modernization bill

For a comprehensive summary of the revenue package, click here to view the House Democratic Summary.

To submit comments or questions on the 2016-2017 Commonwealth Budget, please email Larissa Bailey, Government Relations Manager, at lbailey@hbgrc.org.

U.S. Department of Labor Announces New Overtime Rule

Posted May 19, 2016

Yesterday afternoon, the U.S. Department of Labor announced its new regulation concerning overtime.  Though some modifications were made to the regulation that was originally published in July 2015, the final rule will still gravely impact employers, both large and small, across America.

As stated on The Society for Human Resource Management’s (SHRM) website:

  • The rule extends overtime protections to 4.2 million workers who are not currently eligible under federal law.
  • Workers who earn as much as $47,476 a year ($913 a week) will have to be paid overtime, even if they’re classified as a manager or professional.
  • The Department of Labor will increase the salary threshold every three years. Based on current projections, the salary threshold is expected to rise to more than $51,000 with its first update on January 1, 2020.
  • Employers must comply with the new regulations by December 1, 2016.

(Source: https://www.shrm.org/legalissues/federalresources/pages/overtime-rule-hub.aspx)

Dave Black, President & CEO of the Harrisburg Regional Chamber & CREDC, shared his thoughts on the final rule with ABC27 yesterday morning.  Black not only touched on the negative impact on employers and employees from the regulation but also discussed the overreach of the Executive Branch of the Federal Government in by-passing Congress on this issue.

This regulation will impact professional positions that periodically (seasonal) may require extra hours, not for profits who do events resulting in extra hours on a periodic basis, including governments, likely leading to higher costs to consumers.  It also fails to take into account market (salary and cost of living) conditions throughout the country.

Legislation known as the Protecting Workplace Advancement & Opportunity Act (H.R. 4773 and S. 2707) was introduced earlier this year in an effort to block the regulation from becoming law.  The Senate’s Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship did hold a hearing on S. 2707 in May 2016, otherwise the legislation has not advanced.

How will this rule affect your organization?  Tell us how the final regulation will impact you (i.e. financially, administratively, etc.) come December 1.  Please email your comments to Larissa Bailey, Government Relations Manager, at lbailey@hbgrc.org.

Overtime Regulation Moves Towards Approval, Legislation Introduced to Stop It

Posted April 13, 2016

The U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) proposed regulation on white collar overtime rules has gone to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for approval. This is the final step before the rule can be implemented.  (There will be a 60-day congressional review period which allows lawmakers to disapprove final rules created by federal agencies; however, the disapproval resolution would likely be vetoed by President Obama.)

The proposed rule includes three key provisions:

  1. Sets the minimum salary level for the overtime exemption at the 40th percentile of weekly earnings of full-time salaried workers (This would be $50,440 in 2016, which is more than double the current threshold of $23,660.)
  2. Increases the annual salary threshold from $100,000 to $122,148 for exemption as a highly compensated employee
  3. Includes an automatic annual adjustment provision that will require the salary thresholds be adjusted each year to keep up with inflation

If implemented the proposed rule would significantly increase the number of employees who are eligible for overtime, placing an undue burden on an array of employers across the nation.  The rule’s effects would be a terrible blow to the entire employer community – specifically those who are small businesses – for-profit and non-profit alike.

In an effort to stop the regulation from going into effect, the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives introduced the Protecting Workplace Advancement & Opportunity Act (H.R. 4773 and S. 2707) which would effectively nullify the rule.  It is essential this legislation must be passed to ensure employers, workplace flexibility and opportunity, and the economy are not threatened by this onerous rule.

Tell your legislators to help protect any and all employers by supporting the Protecting Workplace Advancement & Opportunity Act.  If steps aren’t taken to block the rule, the regulation will go into effect sending disastrous shockwaves through the employer community, drastically changing the American workforce as we know it today. 

Act now – send emails to Senators Pat Toomey and Bob Casey, as well as your local Representative (Lou Barletta, Charlie Dent, Tom Marino, Scott Perry) on this critical issue.  Use this standard message template and personalize it before sending to your lawmakers.

Click here to view the Harrisburg Regional Chamber & CREDC’s official position on this issue.

Governor Wolf signs executive orders, Chamber & CREDC urges General Assembly
to pass PA Fairness Act  

Posted April 8, 2016

Yesterday afternoon Governor Wolf signed two executive orders providing for equality in the workplace both in state agencies and for state contractors.  The first executive order pertains to state employees, while the second executive order applies to state grants and procurement processes.  Both orders forbid any and all agencies under the governor’s jurisdiction from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation, gender expression, and identity.  Governor Wolf stated he had hoped the General Assembly would have passed such legislation first; however, because the bills stalled, he resorted to taking executive action.

The Harrisburg Regional Chamber & CREDC has supported this legislation for years and encourages the General Assembly to act and pass the PA Fairness Act to ensure all employees are protected against discrimination in any workplace. As our official position on this issue, we believe it is crucial state law be updated to provide permanent protections for the most basic of human rights for all Pennsylvanians, regardless of race, religion, age, sex, national origin, disability, and now – sexual orientation, gender identity/expression.

“Not only is this legislation the right thing to do, it’s good business for Pennsylvania in retaining and attracting a workforce (as many local businesses already know).  It’s a simple way to get additional looks for Pennsylvania from other businesses considering to expand operations to other states, ” said Chamber & CREDC President & CEO, David Black.

Click here to find your legislator and ask them to support the PA Fairness Act (SB 974 & HB 1510) today.  

Governor Wolf to Let 2015-2016 Budget Become Law

Posted March 24, 2016

Governor Wolf has backed down from his threat to veto the 2015-2016 supplemental budget passed by the General Assembly last week.  Instead of rejecting the legislation, Governor Wolf will let it become law without his signature. (While in session, a bill becomes law after 10 days if the Governor does not sign or veto it.)

The $6.6 billion spending package, which increases direct aid to public schools by $200 million, increases state aid to Penn State, Pitt, and Temple, and contains no new taxes, will end the 9-month gridlock between Governor Wolf and the General Assembly; however, the budget battle is likely to ensue again soon as the 2016-2017 budget is due by June 30.

While there is good news on the budget, the fiscal code, which is a roadmap for budget spending, will be vetoed.  It is unsure what impact this may have on the approved spending plan.  There is still work to do on 2015-16 affairs with three months remaining in the fiscal year.

For questions or assistance, please contact Larissa Bailey, Government Relations Manager, by email at lbailey@hbgrc.org or by phone at (717) 213-5041.

2015-2016 Budget & Medical Marijuana Bills Make Their Way Through General Assembly

Posted March 17, 2016

Wednesday was an eventful day in the State House of Representatives.  Lawmakers passed two critical pieces of legislation, another 2015-2016 budget bill and a bill that would legalize the medical use of marijuana in Pennsylvania.

Senate Bill 3 – Medical Marijuana

House members voted 149-43 to approve an amended version of Senate Bill 3 sponsored by local Senator Mike Folmer (R-48).  The Medical Cannabis Act would allow specially-approved physicians to prescribe medical marijuana to be used in the treatment of certain severe medical conditions, including seizures, cancer, chronic pain, HIV/AIDs, PTSD, autism, and numerous other neurological and gastrointestinal conditions.  The PA Department of Health would oversee the program and it would be advised by the new State Board of Medical Cannabis Licensing.  The legislation would initially provide licenses for 25 growers/processors and 50 dispensaries, of which the dispensaries would be permitted to have up to three locations each.  Growers and processors would have to pay an initial registration fee of $200,000 plus an annual $10,000 renewal fee, as well as a 5% tax which cannot be passed on to patients or caregivers.  Dispensaries may produce medical marijuana in forms including pills, creams, and oils, including those that could be vaporized or converted to edible forms; the smoking of medical marijuana would not be permissible under the legislation.  Last year the potential economic impact of legalizing medical marijuana was estimated to be $333 million to $665 million per year.  The bill will be taken up by the Senate on Monday, which originally approved the legislation last May by a vote of 40 to 7, whenever the members return to session.  Governor Wolf has publicly stated he is eager to approve the legislation should it reach his desk for signature.

Of the members who represent our tri-county region, nine legislators voted in favor of Senate Bill 3 including Representatives Sheryl Delozier, Sue Helm, Patty Kim, Ron Marsico, John Payne, Mike Regan, Greg Rothman, Will Tallman, and Mike Tobash, while Representatives Steve Bloom, David Hickernell, and Mark Keller voted against it. For a complete list of votes, click here.

2015-2016 State Budget

In hopes of settling the nearly nine-month deadlock over school funding and taxes, the Pennsylvania Senate voted 31-18 (all 30 Republicans and 1 Democrat) to pass a Republican-crafted $30 billion budget bill on Wednesday afternoon.  Later that evening the State House considered the same bill and passed it in a vote of 128-63 (115 Republicans and 13 Democrats), now sending it to Governor Wolf’s desk for approval of which he has already threatened to veto.  The state is currently operating on a $23.4 billion budget, almost $ billion less than last year, which was passed right before the New Year.  This unresolved has gravely affected recipients of state funding, including school districts, colleges and universities, human service providers and not-for-profits, and businesses that contract with the state among others.  The bill, which does not contain any tax increases through the remainder of the current fiscal year, would spend $873 million more than the state spent in 2014-2015 but $238 million less than the budget proposal that the General Assembly passed in December and Wolf partially vetoed.  Highlights of the latest budget proposal include: $5.93 billion in direct state support to school districts ($150 million more than last year but $175 million less than Governor Wolf is seeking); 5% increase in aid to state-related universities, including Penn State, Pitt, Temple, and Lincoln (state-related universities have received no state aid this fiscal year); and restores full funding to the PA Department of Corrections and $50.5 million for statewide agriculture extension services.

Should Governor Wolf veto the budget plan, House Republicans believe they have the votes to override the veto because fewer Democrats are supporting their party’s Governor.  The veto would require a minimum of 16 Democratic votes; 13 Democrats already voted in favor of the latest proposal.

Of the members who represent our tri-county region, all of the Republicans, both House members and Senators, voted in favor of the bill, while Democratic Senator Rob Teplitz and Representative Patty Kim voted against it.  For a complete list of Senate votes click here and for the House votes click here.

For questions or assistance, please contact Larissa Bailey, Government Relations Manager, by email at lbailey@hbgrc.org or by phone at (717) 213-5041.

Governor Wolf Raises Minimum Wage for State Workers and Those Under State Contracts

Posted March 8, 2016

Yesterday afternoon Governor Tom Wolf signed an executive order increasing the minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.15 per hour for state workers, as well as those under state contracts.

Those employees that perform direct services to the Commonwealth or spend at least 20% of their working time on ancillary services related to the contract or lease will be paid a minimum of $10.15 an hour.  This provision will take effect when contracts or leases are solicited or bilaterally modified on or after July 1, 2016.

Additionally Governor Wolf used this opportunity to call upon the General Assembly to raise the minimum wage for all Pennsylvanians.

The Harrisburg Regional Chamber & CREDC has not taken a specific position on this issue; however, it is something we are closely monitoring.

Will your business be affected by this executive order? 

Please take a few moments to complete a brief survey.

For questions or assistance, please contact Larissa Bailey, Government Relations Manager, by email at lbailey@hbgrc.org or by phone at (717) 213-5041.

Thank you in advance for your help on this issue!

Proposed U.S. Department of Labor Overtime Regulations

Posted February 11, 2016

As a result of a Presidential Memorandum signed by President Obama in 2015, the U.S. Department of Labor (Department) published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to update the regulations defining and delimiting the exemptions for “white collar” employees. This has the potential to have a huge impact on your business, especially with low to mid-level salaried employees.

On February 1, 2016, the U.S. Chamber hosted a symposium focused on how the U.S. Department of Labor’s proposed overtime regulation will impact vulnerable employers: small businesses, state and local governments, nonprofit welfare and service organizations, and academic institutions. The entire session video is archived at this link.

Please consider taking the following actions ASAP in hopes of preventing the proposed regulations from going into effect:

  • Look over this questionnaire on the proposed rule.   This short exercise will help you to be better prepared once the regulation goes final (it’s expected sometime late summer).
  • Reach out to your member of Congress and tell them how these proposed regulations will impact you.  Then, ask your congressman to relay your concerns to the Department of Labor.  Do determine which congressman represents the district in which your company/organization is located in, click here.  Here is their contact information:Congressman Lou Barletta (R-11)
    4813 Jonestown Road, Suite 101
    Harrisburg, PA 17109
    Staff: Bruce Krell (Bruce.Krell@mail.house.gov)Congressman Charlie Dent (R-15)
    250 W. Chocolate Avenue
    Hershey, PA 17033
    Staff: Alicia Hain (Alicia.Hain@mail.house.gov)Congressman Tom Marino (R-10)
    30 S. Market Street, Suite 1A
    Selinsgrove, PA 17870
    Staff: Sara Rogers (Sara.Rogers@mail.house.gov)Congressman Scott Perry (R-04)
    730 N. Front Street
    Wormleysburg, PA 17043
    Staff: Tyra Wallace (Tyra.Wallace@mail.house.gov)
  • Add your name to a grassroots petition to the Department of Labor calling for the withdrawal of the proposed regulation.  The petition can be found at this link.

For questions or assistance, please contact Larissa Bailey, Government Relations Manager, by email at lbailey@hbgrc.org or by phone at (717) 213-5041.

Thank you in advance for your help on this issue!