Week Ending Aug. 13, 2021

Aug 13, 2021


PICPA Clarifies End to Pandemic-Related CPE Waivers

The Pennsylvania Department of State announced that its professional licensing waivers issued under the COVID-19 disaster declaration will begin to expire in phases starting Aug. 17. Under Act 21 of 2021, all waived and suspended regulations initiated because of the COVID-19 disaster emergency declaration will expire on Sept. 30, 2021, unless terminated sooner.

In response to questions regarding the waiver of the self-study credit maximum offered during the pandemic, the PICPA has confirmed with the State Board of Accountancy that the waiver on the limit does extend for the full 2020-2021 reporting period, despite it technically expiring Sept. 30, 2021. This means Pennsylvania CPAs can use as many self-study credits in the current reporting period as they would like. The 50% cap will be back in effect beginning Jan. 1, 2022.

The nearly 100 waivers approved by the administration temporarily eased regulations to allow such things as extended temporary practice permits and expanded scopes of practice for certain health professions, expedited reactivations to allow retired licensees to join pandemic response efforts more easily, and emergency temporary licenses for out-of-state practitioners who wished to help in Pennsylvania.

The department notified licensing boards, licensees, and stakeholders about the expiring waivers.

 

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General Assembly Keeps Busy During Quiet Summer

Summer recess generally halts the legislative process in Harrisburg, but the Pennsylvania General Assembly is still conducting business. Having approved an on-time and balanced $40 billion state budget in June, state lawmakers are using the summer months to prepare for the fall session. Committees in both the state House and Senate have been busy with public hearings and meetings on multiple topics.

Redrawing U.S. congressional and state legislative districts has gotten underway as well. The Legislative Redistricting Commission, which will redraw state House and Senate districts, held three public hearings in early August, and the Senate State Government Committee kicked off its series of hearings on congressional redistricting.

The PICPA government relations team is using the relative quiet of summer to position its legislative agenda for the fall. House Bill 1328, which amends the CPA Law, is  sponsored by Rep. Keith Greiner (R-Lancaster). The bill, pending before the House Professional Licensure Committee, would revise and update the CPA Law’s peer review provisions, adopt the PICPA’s Code of Professional Conduct, and add to the types of courses that qualify for the education requirement. In addition, your team in Harrisburg is monitoring newly introduced legislation (see story below).

Additionally, PICPA’s State Tax Thought Leadership Committees will be meeting throughout the summer to identify legislative and regulatory priorities.

The state Senate returns to session on Sept. 20 and the House returns on Sept. 27.

 

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PICPA Monitoring Newly Introduced Legislation

Several measures have been introduced or are being formulated in the Pennsylvania legislature that the PICPA government relations team is tracking.

  • Tax-Free Student Loan Forgiveness – Rep. Brian Sims (D-Philadelphia) is developing a proposal to make student loan forgiveness in Pennsylvania tax-free until Jan. 1, 2026.  
  • Changes to the Municipal Claims and Tax Lien Law for Cities of the Second Class (Senate Bill 811 and House Bill 1750) – Introduced by Sen. Wayne Fontana (D-Allegheny) in the Senate and Rep. Austin David (D-Allegheny) in the House, these proposals amend the Municipal Claims and Tax Lien Law, further providing for municipal claims first lien, docketing, judgment, and execution for first-class cities, as well as recovery of judgment and sale free from claims and providing second-class city property disposition.  
  • Personal Income Tax (PIT) Examination Process (House Bill 1756) – Introduced by Rep. David Zimmerman (R-Lancaster), this bill amends personal income tax in the Tax Reform Code, further providing for examination.
  • Reversing "Brain Drain" in PA Communities – Introduced by Rep. Nick Pisciottano (D-Allegheny), this proposal would allow individuals to receive either student loan forgiveness or a 0% interest rate on their student loans if they agree to live in a distressed zone of the state.  
  • Protecting Small Businesses from Predatory Lending – Introduced by Rep. Kristine Howard (D-Chester), this package is designed to protect small businesses from predatory lending.  

Please do not hesitate to contact PICPA’s government relations team at governmentrelations@picpa.org if you have questions on these or any legislative measures being considered in the state House and Senate.

 

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Transportation Funding Commission Releases Report

Gov. Tom Wolf's Transportation Revenue Options Commission (TROC) issued its funding recommendations for Pennsylvania's transportation network.

The final report contains a blend of short-term and long-term recommendations, including corridor tolling, goods delivery fees, and higher vehicle fees and taxes, but the primary revenue-raiser will be a vehicle-miles-traveled fee that likely would take years to roll out.

The state needs additional funding of $9.35 billion, which increases each year according to the report. Fully closing that gap would require several years due to the time needed to implement new revenue sources, so TROC developed a three-phased approach with target levels of additional funding by phase:

  • Phase 1 (Years one and two): $3.5 billion
  • Phase 2 (Years three and four): $6.6 billion
  • Phase 3 (Year five and beyond): $11.5 billion

The deliberations about proposed revenue sources occurred in the context of ensuring that the total funding targets by phase were maintained, notes the report. Throughout the process, the combinations and dollar values of proposed revenue sources were refined numerous times, always with an eye toward preserving the bottom-line revenue total for each phase.

The TROC was composed of transportation, economic, and community stakeholders from both the public and private sectors, including majority and minority leaders from the House and Senate transportation and appropriations committees.

The commission held its first meeting on March 25, 2021. A report of commission activities and funding options was submitted to the governor on July 30, 2021, just before the deadline of Aug. 1, 2021.

 

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Lawmaker Introduces Blockchain Technology Bill Package

State Rep. Napoleon Nelson (D-Montgomery) unveiled a blockchain legislative package aimed at promoting responsible and deliberative expansion of this growing industry.

“At present, blockchain represents a regulatory gray area, as many of today’s laws and regulations did not envision the level of technology we now enjoy,” Nelson said. “I have introduced two measures that will help develop a regulatory framework to support blockchain technology in a way that both promotes business development and protects consumers.”

The two proposals from Nelson – House Bill 1370 and House Resolution 121 – would permit businesses in Pennsylvania to develop blockchain-based products in a controlled way, while exploring the regulatory environment in anticipation of future growth. Both measures have been referred to the House Commerce Committee.

The House Democratic Policy Committee recently hosted a public hearing on the development and transparency of digital currencies.

 

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Monthly State Revenue Update

Pennsylvania collected $2.7 billion in General Fund revenue in July, the first month of fiscal year (FY) 2021-2022.

According to the Independent Fiscal Office Monthly Revenue Update, July 2021 General Fund revenues of $2.70 billion for the month reflected a decrease of $1.40 billion (-34.2%) compared to the same month of the prior year. July 2020 collections, however, included roughly $1.62 billion in revenue that was shifted from FY 2019-2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, notes the report. Excluding this shift, July 2021 revenues exceeded the prior year by $216.2 million (8.7%), says IFO.

The IFO will release monthly revenue projections for FY 2021-2022 in August.

 

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Speaker Announces Special Election for the 164th District

To fill the vacant seat in the 164th Legislative District in Delaware County, Pennsylvania Speaker of the House Bryan Cutler (R-Lancaster) announced a special election to coincide with the general election on Nov. 2, 2021.

The seat was vacated when Rep. Margo Davidson (D-Delaware) resigned after charges were filed against her of theft and election code violations.

Candidates for the office will be selected by a process designated by their respective political parties, and the winner of the special election will take office after the results are confirmed. 

 

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