$912 Million COVID-Relief Package Approved by Pa. Senate
The Pennsylvania Senate this week approved a $912 million relief package to help restaurants, schools, employers, and tenants impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. After receiving unanimous support in the Senate, the House Appropriations Committee quickly approved the bill, moving it to the full House for consideration.
Senate Bill 109 allocates $569.8 million for rental and utility assistance, $197 million for education programs, and $145 million to support Pennsylvania’s struggling hospitality industry.
The $197 million for education, which is also supported by federal funding, would be used to create a $150 million competitive grant program under the Department of Education to assist nonpublic schools that have been impacted by the pandemic and have not received government assistance.
The remaining $47 million would provide $17.5 million for career and technical centers; $17.5 million for intermediate units; $7.075 million for charter schools for the deaf and blind and approved private schools; and $5 million for the State System of Higher Education to support its restructuring initiative.
The third component in the package transfers $145 million from the Workers’ Compensation Security Fund to the COVID-19 Response Restricted Account to provide counties with block grants to assist the hospitality industry, including restaurants, bars, and hotels.
Grants would be provided in increments of $5,000 up to $50,000. Grants may not be used to pay for the same operating expenses covered by a federal PPP loan or the state’s prior $225 million Small Business Assistance Program.
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Wolf to Outline Legislative, Budget Priorities
As he prepares to make his seventh budget address on Feb. 2, Gov. Tom Wolf gave a preview of his legislative and budget priorities for the new fiscal year that will begin July 1.
“To get Pennsylvania back on track from the disruptions the pandemic is causing, we need to make major, targeted investments to strengthen our economy, support workers and small-business owners, rebuild our infrastructure, and help all Pennsylvanians build a path to financial security,” Wolf said.
Wolf’s agenda continues to prioritize that Pennsylvania businesses and workers have a path toward recovery following the COVID-19 pandemic, builds on bipartisan progress by removing barriers to help everyday Pennsylvanians succeed, and demands accountability through government reform.
In the area of tax policy, the governor is again proposing to reduce the corporate net income tax from 9.99% to 9.49% on Jan. 1, 2022, then continuing to reduce the tax incrementally to 6.49% by 2026. Wolf is also proposing to close the “Delaware Loophole” and shift to combined reporting for corporations. Find out more on PICPA’s position on combined reporting.
Legalizing adult-use cannabis is another policy initiative. Wolf wants to use the revenue generated from legalization to support historically disadvantaged small businesses and provide them with the assistance they need to rebuild from the current economic crisis. Additionally, a portion of the revenue will support restorative justice programs to help the individuals and communities that have been adversely harmed by the criminalization of marijuana.
After receiving the governor’s budget next week, state lawmakers will recess for several weeks for budget hearings. The PICPA will monitor these hearings.
You have an opportunity to speak directly to state senators and representatives in your area about the 2021-2022 Pennsylvania budget.
At one of our six PICPA members-only webinars, learn how lawmakers plan to accelerate our state's economic recovery and gain insight into the agenda for the upcoming legislative session. Sign up for yours today.
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Dunbar Joins House Republican Leadership Team
State Rep. George Dunbar, CPA (Inactive) (R-Westmoreland), has been elected to serve as chair of the state House Republican Caucus for the 2021-2022 legislative session. Dunbar’s election fills the vacancy created by the passing of Rep. Mike Reese (R-Westmoreland/Somerset).
“Although I certainly never asked for this challenge, I am deeply honored to serve in this leadership capacity for the benefit of Commonwealth residents,” Dunbar said. “Moving forward, I am excited for this tremendous opportunity to play a greater role in not only setting our dynamic caucus policy agenda, but, most importantly, striving to make Pennsylvania a better place today and for future generations.”
As caucus chair, Dunbar will conduct all Republican Caucus meetings, inform members of the session and voting schedules, and notify members when bills they are sponsoring are scheduled for a House vote and if amendments are posted to their legislation. In addition, he will participate in leadership discussions and help guide the House agenda.
In previous sessions, Dunbar has served as majority vice chair of the House Appropriations and Finance committees.
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Greiner Introduces Advisory Opinions Legislation
State Rep. Keith Greiner, CPA (R-Lancaster), introduced legislation to permit licensed professionals to receive advice from licensing boards concerning the meaning or interpretation of an act or regulation pertaining to the licensee. The PICPA supports the measure.
House Bill 325 would permit licensing boards and commissions within the Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs to answer inquiries through the form of an advisory opinion, which would be legally nonbinding. Many violations could be avoided because licensees would have the means to determine if an action is, in fact, permissible.
Often when a licensed professional has a question on whether a certain action is permitted by their respective licensing board, the licensee will ask the licensing board for advice prior to acting, Greiner noted. Under current law, the boards and commissions cannot provide this guidance.
House Bill 325 will be referred to a House Committee for review. Last session, PICPA-supported House Bill 1566 passed the House but was not considered by the state Senate.
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New Session Opens with Flurry of New Legislation
The new session has begun, and new legislation is ramping up. A rundown of the bills and proposals that the PICPA government relations team and our volunteer-led committees are currently monitoring is as follows:
House Bill 73, sponsored by Rep. Dawn Keefer (R-York), amends the Tax Reform Code entertainment production tax credit, further providing for carryover, carryback, and assignment of the credit. It provides that a taxpayer is not entitled to carry back, obtain a refund, sell or assign all or any portion of an unused tax credit granted to the taxpayer.
House Bill 198, sponsored by Rep. George Dunbar, CPA (Inactive) (R-Westmoreland), would allow a net operating loss deduction up to 100% of income to allow companies a chance to recover and reinvest in the state. The additional 60% deduction can only be from losses that occurred in 2020, it does not apply to losses carried forward from prior tax years.
House Resolution 26, sponsored by Rep. Dan Deasy (R-Allegheny), calls for an extension of the April 15, 2021, income tax filing deadline.
Rep. Brandon Markosek (D-Allegheny) plans to introduce legislation that exempts stimulus checks and loan forgiveness grants under the CARES Act and Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, from state and local taxation. Markosek introduced similar legislation last session.
The PICPA is monitoring these and other proposals, and will continue to update you on legislative actions of interest.
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Proposed Constitutional Amendment Approved by House and Senate
The state House and Senate each approved legislation that amends the state Constitution to put parameters around a governor’s ability to use emergency declaration orders.
House Bill 55, sponsored b Rep. Seth Grove (R-York), and Senate Bill 2, sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Kim Ward (R-Westmoreland), would define a governor’s power to use executive orders to declare emergencies, allow the state legislature to pass laws related to how emergencies must be managed, and limit a governor-issued emergency declaration to 21 days unless extended by a vote of the legislature.
The General Assembly approved a similar bill last session. Should House Bill 55 or Senate Bill 2 be approved this session, the question would be put forth to voters, potentially as soon as the primary election in May.
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PICPA-DOR Team Up for myPATH Demonstration
The PICPA recently hosted the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue (DOR) for a demonstration of its new online web portal system. Watch Karen Clark, CORE analyst at DOR’s Customer Experience Center, provide an overview of the myPath interface. The new portal replaces the personal income tax e-Services portal as well as PAdirectfile. The myPATH portal provides many self-service options, such as the ability to register an account, file returns, pay balances, submit correspondence to the DOR, review correspondence received from the DOR, and manage an account online.
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