By Peter N. Calcara, vice president, government relations,
and Alexandra Fabian, manager, government relations
PICPA's Day on the Hill program is a unique opportunity for members to bring their specialized training and problem-solving skills to Harrisburg to speak with state lawmakers on behalf of Pennsylvania CPAs. The PICPA held the program for the 17th time on June 12, 2018. Seventy-six members became honorary ambassadors for the profession as they traversed the halls of our beautiful state Capitol.
PICPA members heard presentations from state lawmakers, the Department of Revenue, and the Independent Fiscal Office. They then met individually with legislators to address critical fiscal issues such as depreciation and 1099-MISC withholding.
Steve Christian, CPA, current PICPA president, opened the program by welcoming attendees and thanking them for their support. “Part of PICPA’s core mission is to promote and protect the CPA profession,” he said. “Lawmakers find the information they receive from their constituent CPAs to be very relevant and informative. The nonpartisan approach to PICPA’s lobbying efforts—bad tax policy is bad tax policy, whether it’s a Republican or Democratic initiative—is a cornerstone of our effectiveness in Harrisburg.”
The ultimate goal for the day was to position our more than 20,000 PICPA members as thought leaders and a resource to state lawmakers and regulators, to build relationships with decisionmakers, and to garner lawmakers’ support for our position on our key legislative priorities. It’s not a foregone conclusion that just because the PICPA speaks on an issue or takes a position on a piece of legislation that lawmakers will listen and vote our way. That is why these meetings are so important. The legislative process is not done in a vacuum, and the effort requires constant vigilance both in Harrisburg and back home in the district.
At this year’s event, PICPA members participated in 136 meetings with state legislators. Members asked their lawmakers to support bonus depreciation legislation (House Bill 2017 and Senate Bill 1056) and 1099-MISC nonresident withholding legislation (House Bill 2413). Members also educated legislators on combined reporting, a position on which the PICPA is officially neutral, and thanked them for their support for our legislation amending the local earned income tax collection law (Act 32), which became law earlier this spring as Act 18.
The PICPA is constantly jockeying for legislators’ time and a place on the General Assembly’s agenda. We’re competing with hundreds of interest groups—some better financed than us, others with a more compelling or media-attractive story. Logic, commonsense, and facts don’t always win the day. But what happens if the PICPA does not have a voice in the legislative process at all? Some other group will undoubtedly take the influence we have been able to achieve. Do you know who those groups will be? Will they have the same level-headed view on the issues? In other words, CPAs bring strong problem-solving skills to the equation that many other groups do not. It’s an important and unique distinction that sets the PICPA apart from others engaged in the legislative process.
All attendees were reminded to continue being advocates for the profession when they return home. Lawmakers want to hear from their constituents on important issues, and getting a meeting with them when they are back in the district is typically easier because they are not encumbered by the chaos of session days in Harrisburg. PICPA’s government relations team will help you every step of the way—from the first contact, to talking points for the follow up.
If you missed Day on the Hill this year, the sessions were recorded and can be streamed via Facebook.
To those who attended this year’s Day on the Hill, the PICPA thanks you, and the profession thanks you. We look forward to seeing you again next year.
For those who were unable to attend, there will be a seat open for you next year. Every voice we add to the PICPA chorus makes us louder, and we are at our loudest when we come together in Harrisburg. Plan to join us next year in Harrisburg, and let’s show them what a booming voice we can have.