By Peter Calcara, vice president – government relations
As we begin 2018, it’s worth looking back on PICPA’s advocacy efforts in 2017. Let me first say, on behalf of the government relations team, “Thank You” for your continual commitment to PICPA’s advocacy efforts. The legislative process is not always easy, and it often frustrates even those of us who live and work within it daily. But with your help we made many strides in shaping public policy in 2017, and we are looking forward to building upon our success in 2018 and beyond.
The year was not without significant challenges, particularly with another protracted budget stalemate. An agreement to fund the $32 billion spending plan was finally reached at the end of October (more than four months after its initial approval, and eight months after Wolf proposed it). Throughout the lengthy process, PICPA's government relations team provided state lawmakers, the Wolf administration, and other stakeholders with technical expertise and strategic leadership.
Here are some of the highlights of PICPA’s year of advocacy:
- Supported passage of major pension reform legislation (Act 5 of 2017).
- Advocated for amendments to the Pennsylvania Solicitation of Funds for Charitable Purposes Act (Acts 71 and 72 of 2017).
- Blocked a legislative effort to alter the tax appeals process that would have been detrimental to CPAs’ ability to represent taxpayers before either the Board of Appeals or the Board of Finance and Revenue.
- Hosted another successful Day on the Hill on June 7, 2017, with 89 members in attendance. Members attended 35 meetings with their respective state Representatives and 27 meetings with their Senators.
- Initiated a study to address next-generation leaders and explore methods to further engage young members in advocacy.
- Convened a series of Congressional roundtable discussions across the state to introduce federal leaders and their staff to member CPAs in their districts. Topics of discussion included tax reform, IRS funding and capability, mobile workforce, the fiscal state of the nation, and the Affordable Care Act.
- Joined in establishing the Pennsylvania Coalition for Civil Justice Reform (PCCJR) which is dedicated to improving the state's civil justice system by elevating awareness of problems and advocating for legal reform.
- Submitted multiple comment letters, provided testimony at various hearings at the state capitol, held many webinars and events, and conducted hundreds of meetings with legislators.
But that’s not all. I encourage readers to review the following year-end resources that more fully summarize our efforts:
Looking ahead to 2018, the budget will once again dominate Harrisburg’s legislative landscape for the first part of the year. The fiscal challenges and political divides that have defined the last decade remain firmly entrenched in Harrisburg. Elections will be a focus during the latter part of the year, as all 203 state House seats and 25 of the 50 seats in the state Senate are up for election.
Despite the challenges that remain, PICPA’s government relations team will continue to adapt and fight for the interests of CPAs in the commonwealth, but here’s to hoping ghosts of past sessions will be put to rest in the new year. The role you play in advocating for your profession is truly invaluable. Thank you for your dedication to our efforts, and we look forward to working with you in 2018!